Appellate Court Rules that Colleges Can't Protect Students from Violent Campus Crimes

A California Appeals Court has ruled that a woman who was attacked with a knife by a classmate in a UCLA chemistry lab cannot hold the university responsible, reports several media outlets.

The 2-1 ruling came in a negligence lawsuit filed against the University of California regents by Katherine Rosen after being attacked by Damon Thompson who was found not guilty due to insanity. Rosen said school officials failed to warn students that Thompson was potentially violent despite being made aware of his threatening behavior.

The ruling is based on California law, not federal law.

"We find no basis to depart from the settled rule that institutions of higher education have no duty to their adult students to protect them against the criminal acts of third persons," the appeals court decision stated. "The conduct at issue here -- a violent crime perpetrated by an individual suffering from mental illness -- is a societal problem not limited to the college setting."


Related Links

The Associated Press

Inside Higher Ed

The Chronicle of Higher Education