A former University of Alaska Fairbanks student is suing the school for withholding his diploma. In February Nolan Youngmun was acquitted of charges he raped another UAF student. Youngmun’s attorney says the University has dragged its feet in its own investigation and lacks the authority to withhold the diploma.
In April 2015 a UAF student accused fellow student Nolan Youngmun of rape. Youngmun was a UAF hockey player and petroleum student set to graduate that spring. Two separate investigations and procedures followed from the charges. One was a trial in criminal court with two counts of rape; the second investigation was conducted by the University. This February, more than year after he was charged, Youngmun was acquitted on both counts in criminal court. But Willaim Ingaldson a lawyer representing Youngmun, says the UAF has yet to wrap up its investigation after 15 months and is refusing to give Youngmun his degree.
“It’s our position that they do not have the authority as an interim sanction to withhold the degree,” Ingaldson said. “Second, it’s also our position that it never had, for this type of misconduct, have to authority to not confer the degree.”
Ingaldson said under Title IX rules, investigations are intended to last no longer than 60 days. He says his client is asking for 100 thousand dollars in damages. The school’s inappropriate action has cost Youngmun.
“He was a good student, I mean he had a 3.4 GPA in petroleum engineering and he’s lost a job because of it,” Ingaldson said. “A very well-paying job in the oil industry.”
Marmain Grimes UAF spokesperson say Regent policy does allow for a wide latitude in what are called summary restrictions.
“Those can include withholding a degree. It can include trespass from campus. It can include telling someone, ‘Hey. You need to take classes online only. And not in person on campus.’ So there’s a wide range of things that a summary restriction can mean.”
More than that, Grimes says, the school cannot talk about individual student discipline issues. UAF has 20 days to respond to the lawsuit.