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Reconsidering Campus Sexual Assault

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The handling of complaints of sexual assault on campus has been a mess.  The charge that victims have been treated insensitively and had their complaints too lightly dismissed has often been valid.  The countercharge that campus administrations, whether voluntarily or coerced by the U.S. Dept. of Education, went too far the other direction and degenerated into witch hunts has also been valid at times.

Melissa Korn reports for the WSJ:

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos on Thursday said the department plans to roll back the Obama administration's guidance on how colleges and universities should handle sexual assault cases.
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The federal government will solicit public comment and establish a new regulatory framework to help schools adjudicate the cases, Mrs. DeVos said.
Sexual assault has been a flashpoint on college campuses for years, as schools struggled to interpret a 2011 letter that spelled out how the institutions should investigate such allegations. That advisory, known as the "Dear Colleague" letter, recommended that schools use a lower standard of evidence in determining guilt than many criminal cases require and detailed recommendations on who should preside over hearings and how quickly the cases should be wrapped up.

"The current approach isn't working," she said in a speech at George Mason University's Antonin Scalia Law School. She said that students and campus administrators "have all told me that the current approach does a disservice to everyone involved," including survivors of sexual assault as well as some of the accused who she described as "victims of a lack of due process."
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Georgia State University President Mark Becker said he is eager for more clarity from the Education Department on how schools should handle these cases, to professionalize and standardize the process.

"You can end up with all sorts of crazy shit happening" when administrators and disciplinary boards don't understand how to investigate and adjudicate cases, he said.
Maybe just refer the cases to the pros in the local police and district attorney's offices and let them handle it?

4 Comments

"Maybe just refer the cases to the pros in the local police and district attorney's offices and let them handle it?"

I think there are two issues: (a) whether a college/university can act to punish sexual assault and (b) when it should wait until the authorities deal with it.

A wrinkle to this is where a college/university decides to punish conduct short of criminal, which, in many cases, it has the right to do.

A college/university generally should act where criminal liability is clear--e.g., if forcible rape is witnessed by 100 people--without waiting for the authorities. It should not act in cases where the facts are simply unclear or subject to different interpretations--there is too much possibility of bias etc.

However, all should agree that the 'Dear Colleague" letter is utterly appalling. But I will also say that to the extent colleges follow it and work injustice, those who did the dirty work are horrible people.

Sheriff Joe is the only 85 year-old American citizen in history whose clemency liberals deplore, and college men are the only accused in history for whom liberals seek to avoid the presumption of innocence (plus, at many campuses, even the right to representation and cross-examination).

Yes, thanks, I know a campus complaint is not a criminal charge. But a rape complaint certainly carries the stigma of a criminal charge (and a very serious one), plus all those dreaded collateral consequences liberals fret over at such length.

Liberals voted against sexism, before they voted for it.

Reason.com ran 2 articles which I found enlightening.

As described in the case of collegiate kangaroo courts designed perhaps
in the amoral "reconciliation" model of South Africa, both the wrongly
accused, and the truly victimized, are the ones denied justice.

E.g.
"Tubbs was obligated to personally cross-examine the man
she had accused of rape."
"She informed the campus police two days after her alleged attack.
She agreed to take a rape examination ..
He was found innocent by Stony Brook;"...

http://reason.com/blog/2015/02/25/college-rape-trials-are-unfair-to-men-an
http://reason.com/blog/2017/09/07/betsy-devos-rape-ocr-title-ix-campus

Another problem that colleges have is what do you do while the criminal charges are pending, which can take quite a while. Do you take steps to separate the students in someway? Is there some point at which there is enough evidence that the accused should be removed from campus pending resolution (certainly a less sever sanction than being held in jail on bail.) I don't think colleges can just push this off on the criminal justice system, they have to deal with it somehow. The key is that the way they deal with it need to include basic procedural safeguards for the accused, which appear to be lacking in far too many cases.

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