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Suspended WSU football player asks judge to lift suspension

Suspended WSU football player asks judge to lift suspension

PULLMAN, Wash. - Attorneys for suspended WSU football senior and football player Robert Barber filed a petition in Whitman County Court Wednesday, asking that a judge lift the suspension and allow him back in school. Attorneys call the suspension a "mean-spirited effort to ruin Barber's life."

Barber, a senior from American Samoa, was suspended by WSU's Student Conduct Board because of his role in a fight at a house party this summer. Despite not yet being charged with a crime, WSU's conduct board first expelled Barber. He appealed the expulsion, which was changed to a suspension and began immediately.

His case has drawn attention from critics who say the process used to suspend Barber is broken. Former Cougar quarterback Jack Thompson and Senator Michael Baumgartner joined a news conference called by the Asian-Pacific Islander Coalition in Seattle this week. The group says WSU's student conduct process engages in racial profiling.

Wednesday, Barber's attorneys filed a Motion to Stay Agency Action Pending Review in Whitman County Court, asking a judge to lift the suspension.

"WSU expelled Robert Barber but did not provide proper due process when depriving him of his liberty and property rights when carrying out sanctions," attorneys wrote in the motion.

On Aug. 22, Barber was one of a number of people involved in a fight at a fraternity live-out known as "The Palace." A video shows Barber in a fight with another student, but also shows "dozens of people involved in the melee and pushing, shoving and striking one another." The attorneys write that Barber is one of "very few individuals who have been disciplined for this incident."

Barber said he panicked when someone hit him or pushed him from the side, but the conduct board did not believe Barber's assertion that he was acting in self-defense. The board chair said Barber looked angry, despite not being able to see his face on the video.

According to attorneys, "The hearing conducted by Lisa McIntyre was riddled with procedural errors." Barber is not allowed to cross-examine anyone, but can submit questions to the board. Attorneys claim McIntyre did not ask all the questions Barber proposed. Attorneys also claim "the written questions by Mr. Barber and the written questions or comments of the complainant were destroyed by school staff."

Attorneys also say Barber was asked to leave the room when the complainant was testifying and that "when Mr. Barber was out of the room, the conduct board whispered about him and joked that Mr. Barber was being sent to a 'holding cell." They point out that Barber has no criminal history and was polite and respectful to the board.

In their final statement in the filing, attorneys say "Despite the fact the process of school discipline is supposed to be educational for students, the board specifically wrote in their order ...'it is the specific intention of the Conduct Board that you not be allowed to graduate from this University.'" Attorneys continue, "That doesn't serve the purpose of educating Mr. Barber and it doesn't do anything to protect the safety of other students. Rather it is (sic) openly mean-spirited effort to ruin Mr. Barber's life."

The attorneys ask the judge to set aside the order and allow Barber to finish his time at WSU.