That there’s more than just a whiff of kangaroo courts in how sexual misconduct allegations are handled on campus is obvious enough. The accused not actually being able to hear the evidence against them, no questioning of any witnesses nor the accuser, retrospective changes in consent and all that. This is even before we get to the politics behind it all – it simply cannot be true that one in four, one in five, women is sexually assaulted on campus. That’s a rate equivalent to a war zone and no, we’d not be sending our daughters into that and then paying for the privilege. That basic accusation just doesn’t pass any of the most basic smell tests.
But, you know, politics on campus has become more than just a little disengaged from reality out here. And the actual rules that are being proposed by Betsy DeVos seems reasonable enough:
The Trump Administration’s new policies on college sexual misconduct, spearheaded by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, could drastically change how administrators handle sexual assault on campus. Under a draft version of the proposed rules, published on Wednesday by The New York Times, colleges and universities would be held responsible for far fewer incidents, legally exempt from investigating, for example, any assaults not reported to the school official designated to deal with these cases, and any that take place outside of school grounds. The alleged victim could also have to prove their case by the “clear and convincing” standard of evidence, as opposed to the lower “preponderance of the evidence” standard required by the Obama Administration.
Do note something extremely important here. Any private organisation can use any disciplinary standards it damn well wishes. What is changing is the minimum standard that a Federally supported organisation must use. They’re entirely at liberty to then have more expansive policies on top of that. So, while the new rules say the colleges aren’t responsible for off campus actions, they can be if they wish. But that getting closer to criminal burdens of proof rather than civil in what is very much closer to a criminal allegation with criminal punishments seems entirely sensible.
DeVos is preparing new Title IX policies that would “bolster the rights of students accused of assault, harassment or rape, reduce liability for institutions of higher education and encourage schools to provide more support for victims,” according to an explosive New York Times report published Wednesday.
The potential new regulations for Title IX (the federal civil rights law created to ensure gender equality in education) include several changes that have advocates up in arms, including narrowing the definition of sexual misconduct and allowing assailants to cross-examine their accusers during the mediation process. Title IX regulations apply to all levels of schooling, but advocates are focusing on universities due to the epidemic of sexual violence that takes place on campuses.
Note how absurd the demands of the campaigners have become. Actually being able to ask the accuser a question or two is such an outrage that allowing it to happen cannot be bourne. Which brings us to this:
Survivor: DeVos college plan would protect accused, not accusers
Well, yes, these rules would do that. This is a good thing too. For the very same reason that we’ve got largely the same rules about someone being accused in court of something. We’ve got to have evidence, it must be possible to confront the accuser, we go to a higher standard of proof that just the balance of probabilities and so on. For the reason that it’s easy enough for someone to scream “He Did It!” and point an accusatory finger. But before we start to rip lives apart we think it’s a good idea to ponder on whether it happened, if it did was it a crime and again if, did the accused do it?
We generally bring all of these constraints upon accusation leading directly to punishment under the rubric of the rule of law, possibly of civil liberty. And there’s no known reason that going to college means you shouldn’t be able to avail yourself of the protections of both of those. And if we’re honest about it the shrieking that this modest proposal – university sexual misconduct courts should have a modicum of civil liberty protection within them – is causing is just further grist to the mill. How deluded are these people to think that such modest protections aren’t a good idea?