Student sues UMass, alleges he was denied access to interpreter during hearing

Hampshire County

An international student is suing UMass, alleging the university violated his civil rights. The plaintiff is a Chinese national who speaks Mandarin and maintains that he struggles with English.

Zhauzhong Du’s complaint says UMass denied an interpreter after he was suspended for an alleged disciplinary infraction.

Du is an architecture major in his third year at the university. His lawsuit acknowledges he was suspended on March 28, after his roommate accused him of pulling a box cutter out in a threatening manner.

He was charged with assault in Eastern Hampshire District Court. Following his arraignment, Associate Dean Patricia Cordosa told him he was barred from campus and unable to attend classes.

“To make sure they have a fair trial,” Cordosa said. “That they understand the court proceedings before them. It’s a little different in the university setting, where schools don’t have to follow the same regulations that a court would have.”

Du claims he was interviewed twice without being offered an interpreter. According to the Daily Collegian, UMass claims Du declined an interpreter.

Northampton attorney James Winston told 2News that the purpose of the interpreter is “To make sure they have a fair trial, that they understand the court proceedings before them. It’s a little different in the university setting, where schools don’t have to follow the same regulations that a court would have.”

Du was supposed to graduate this month but doesn’t have enough credits after missing nearly three weeks of classes. Du’s lawsuit claims the University violated his right to due process by not providing an interpreter.

Du wants the school to vacate his suspension and cover his attorney fees and any other fees or damages.

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