Unethical Op-Ed Of The Month: “Don’t Weaken Title IX Campus Sex Assault Policies” (The New York Times)

Do you know what this monstrosity of an op-ed finds outrageous about Betsey DeVos’s efforts to undue the Obama administration’s “guilty unless proven innocent”  standard for campus rape allegations?  It involves too much due process, as in basic fairness before a citizen is grievously punished and harmed by the determination that he or she has committed a crime.. The authors, Jon Krakauer and Laura L. Dunn, put it this way:

Damn right it does. Before someone is punished for a vile crime like rape or sexual assault, the accuser’s credibility and motives must be established. Astonishingly, with all the horrific examples of men being falsely accused of rape, like here, here, and here, the campus activists, feminists, progressives and the social justice warriors continue to insist that any female accuser should be presumed to be a victim, meaning that the accused is de facto presumed to be guilty.

“Sex-crime trials, like all criminal proceedings, set an extremely high bar for conviction to diminish the chance that an innocent person will be unjustly incarcerated. In contrast, the harshest penalty a university can inflict in a Title IX hearing is expulsion, an outcome that does not demand such a stringent burden of proof. In these hearings, neither party is favored, and by leveling the procedural playing field, Title IX makes it more likely that students will report sexual violence.”

The problem with this supposed fairness of “neither party is favored” is that for one party, there are no negative consequences of an insufficiently-supported accusation being rejected. For the individual accused, the stakes are far greater, life altering and potentially dire. More:

“Whenever a student is accused of sexual assault, university administrators need to render their judgment with tremendous care, because erroneously determining that a student is responsible for sexual misconduct can cause lasting harm. But just as much care needs to be taken to make sure that students who commit sexual assault are not let off the hook.”

In other words, the ends justify the means. This is the same mindset expressed in 2015 by Democratic Congressman  Jared Polis, at a congressional hearing on campus sexual assault. 

He said, earning him an Unethical Quote and an Incompetent Elected Official designation on Ethics Alarms,

“If there’s 10 people that have been accused and under a reasonable likelihood standard maybe one or two did it, seems better to get rid of all 10 people. We’re not talking about depriving them of life or liberty, we’re talking about their transfer to another university.”

Krakauer and  Dunn similarly shrug off the consequences to a young man of being falsely tarred as a rapist and kicked out of school: it’s not like staying in the college you enrolled in is a right. Like Polis, they pretend that there are minimal adverse life consequences from being branded a rapist.

“Attending college is a privilege, not a right. Colleges and universities are given free rein to determine which applicants they accept as students and which they turn away. Schools are also allowed to establish codes of conduct that every student must follow, and are granted broad discretion about how to respond when students violate this code. Title IX merely requires these codes to include sexual misconduct.”


“Sure,” I wrote in the Polis post, “why not kick a student out of the school he was admitted to and planned his life around because some woman accused him of unproven sexual assault? Fairness and process don’t matter… If some injustice results and some innocent lives are disrupted, who cares, as long as the victims are males?”

Blogger Amy Alkon makes a perceptive point as well. Rape and sexual assault are crimes, and investigations, guilt and innocence regarding crimes ought to be handled and considered by professionals with appropriate training and experience. I’ll add that the fact that deliberating professionals, judges and lawyers, have ethics standards that help ensure fairness, competence and due process. Writes Alkon,

It isn’t the job of some dude who went to business school or some lady with a Ph.D. in gender studies to investigate crimes and determine innocence or guilt. We have this thing called “the legal system.” There are police officers, defense attorneys, courts, and judges.That’s the forum where rape accusations, investigations, and trials belong. And that’s the place that offers the best insurance that the proceeding will be fair.

Sometimes, sure, a guilty person may go free due to a lack of evidence. But let’s say you are the accused, and you’re innocent. Would you like to be convicted by some college student council coven because, I dunno, you have kind of a guilty look to you and you can’t prove you didn’t do what you were accused of?

Lemme know whether that works for you.




37 thoughts on “Unethical Op-Ed Of The Month: “Don’t Weaken Title IX Campus Sex Assault Policies” (The New York Times)

  1. Perhaps, under Title IX, we could have a separate category: Behaving Like a Cad. (Let’s call it The William Kennedy Smith Rule.) This charge could be brought by any college gal who, after some form of sexual contact with a male student, was later disappointed in his behavior or treatment of her. Punishment could include open-handed face slapping, or for those with a dramatic flair, Soap-opera slapping at some sort of formal gathering.
    Actual rape and sexual assault accusations are law enforcement matters, and deserve to be treated seriously; not handled by a panel of academics with no training in investigations or the law.

    • Bounders and cads. Big problem. I second the institution of The William Kennedy Smith Rule. Maybe we could call it The Camelot Rule. Why leave out all the other miscreant Kennedy boys?

  2. Some thoughts:
    1. THE Jon Krakauer, of Into Thin Air, Into the Wild, and other books titled with prepositional phrases? I’m surprised to see him writing this far out of his area of expertise. He must have the idea that professional rewards await those writers who toe the progressive line.

    2. That quote by Polis. I’m reminded of The Office’s Dwight Schrute boldly stating, “Better a thousand innocent men are locked up than one guilty man roam free.”

    3. In the absence of alcohol, sexual assault on college campuses is extremely rare. One could claim that no one has a “right” to consume alcohol; and as the anti-2nd amendment types usually argue regarding their pet issue, no one “needs” alcohol – if adhering to the laws and norms of the real world are not important to college administrators, why not consider making all colleges dry?

    4. “There are no negative consequences of an insufficiently-supported accusation being rejected.” Aren’t there good reasons for this, though? We would not want a justice system that would punish a woman who was actually raped because she failed to meet a standard of proof in court. Cases like Wanetta Gibson’s being the exception, since she demonstrably committed fraud.

    5. I have a young son, and although I have many years before he’s college-age, I don’t have a clue what to tell him nowadays about how to navigate the socio-sexual minefield of modern young adult culture. Hopefully by the time he grows up, they’ll have an app for that.

  3. I say let’s bring back single-sex higher education. Maybe then the students would actually spend their time studying and learning their craft instead of chasing every sweet piece of ass they see. If you get sent to school you’re supposed to come back with a degree, not a case of herpes, not the clap, and NOT a baby. Let’s also make the environment of higher education a bit more regimented – morning assembly at 7, set meal times, limited free time, quiet hours begin at 6 p.m., lights out at 10, limited guest privileges, and no pub or bar on campus.

    You are absolutely right that rape allegations belong in criminal court, however, if the colleges are determined to have their own forum in which to determine only the question of whether a student accused of an offense can continue as a student, I say the state should establish a Uniform Code of Student Conduct for Higher Education, set up a Commission on Student Conduct in Higher Education, and have questions of student conduct heard in what would here in NJ be called the Officer of Administrative Law – the court of administrative law, which also hears things like civil service discipline, alleged violation of regulations that are not criminal, etc. Let a neutral administrative law judge hear the evidence and render an initial decision, which the Commission can either accept, reject, or modify, then issue a final finding. If enough bs accusations get slapped down, maybe the colleges, and the feminists, will start cleaning up their act.

      • And college administrations invented the rule that says only so many students are allowed to have parking privileges and only those having official business, which doesn’t include your as often as possible sex night with your gf, are allowed entry. You feel like getting lucky, rent a hotel room, or get an apartment off campus.

      • You mean the young adults who are skipping class to join idiotic protests, some of them violent, disrupting classes and study facilities in the name of some moronic cause, filing race-based and gender-based grievances by the sheaf, swilling cheap beer by the bucket and sometimes taking more than alcohol, banging and getting banged by whoever looks good, and all the while taking degrees in worthless fields like gender studies and social justice? THOSE young adults?

        • I’m fairly certain EO didn’t mean those young adults, who would presumably fall outside the 98%. There are probably a lot more than 2% engaging in the “partying” lifestyle you allude to, but I’d say the percentage of college kids who engage in the type of social justice activism you describe can’t be much more than 2%. You’d think nearly every college student out there is majoring in gender studies, when that’s still a niche area and many colleges don’t even offer that as a major. The kids that protest are a minority on colleges campuses.

          • That’s good to hear, Chris. I hope it’s true. I worry more about the percentage of faculty and administrators that are addled. Don’t you really think the percentage of really suspect courses at any given liberal arts college these days has got to be significant? Twenty or thirty percent. Haven’t many literature departments been taken over completely by post-modernists and such? Aren’t all sociology departments pretty suspect?

            • We need quotas for liberal versus conservative professors! With conservatives give affirmative action type preferences, since they are the systematically discriminated against minority…

        • I don’t know when your dad went to school. But by all accounts, the kids in the 60’s and 70’s put today’s youngsters to shame. If you look for a school that is run like a military academy (or IS a military academy), I assume they’re still out there.

          • Dad graduated college in 1965. By 1970, before his 27th birthday, he had served 2 years in the Navy, gotten his MBA, was married, owned his own home and had one son (that would be me, one brother would come along later). By comparison, I was just starting as a lawyer when I was 27, my brother had just gotten his own place (a dumpy apartment with steam heat in Brooklyn) when he was 27. My brother would be 32 before he married and 33 before his only child was born (she’s 11 now, I don’t think there will be any more), and to this day I have never married and would never consider fathering a child this late. We do ok, I’m a career public servant who’s taken on the best lawyers in the state and won, and he’s working publishing with a little bit of a side editing business. 2 contemporary cousins have achieved respectively great success as an architect and politician and huge success in investments (yacht, regular trips to Europe, hot wife, etc.) 2 younger cousins achieved nothing by that age – not college degrees, not relationships, not real jobs. The current generation of Occutards have achieved what? Their great-grandparents had eight kids, their grandparents had four kids, their parents had two kids, and they have what, an abortion and a dog? Worthless.

    • A campus is a more controlled invironment in which to grow cultures. Like little social Petri dishes. When the cultures are released from the dish to the general invirinment the strain has been strengthened and refined to resist outside contamination. Eventually all the socially resistant organisms will be outnumbered.

  4. ”Eventually all the socially resistant organisms will be outnumbered.”

    Sheesh! THAT casts a certain gloom over things!

    “Besides, the non-matriculating units are not really considered people by progressives and campus elite.”

    With one convoluted caveat: said outlying “units” are granted extra credit if they’re ideologically certified, and with an after-market add-on of sympathy if they’re of “protected minority” status.

    The intellectual ataxia that nurtures the ”Grievance Chain” reigns supreme, after all.

  5. Then there is of course the fact that reinterpreting title IX goes beyond the constitutional authority of the executive branch.

    The text of title IX neither contains the words “rape” nor “sexual assault”. Its application in those contexts merely means that males and females are to be treated equally.

    Thus, a “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard does not per se violate Title IX, as long as it applies equally to male and female.

    It really stretches imagination beyond the breaking point to say that using a “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard discriminates against women even if applied equally to men and women. Treating men and women the same can not be possibly sex discrimination.

  6. Longstanding Supreme Court precedent indicates that only Congress can impose conditions on grants given to states and localities, and that those conditions must be “unambiguously” stated in the text of the law “so that the States can knowingly decide whether or not to accept those funds.”


    This means that the Obama administratiion violated separation of powers.

      • Sadly, I am not, nor am I surprised by his sycophants on Usenet and Facebook.

        still, this does beg the question of whether Congress has the power pass a law identical to the Obama administration’s policy.

        Private universities are not bound by the due process or equal protection components of either the 5th or the 14th Amendment. As such, if a private university chooses to require female students, but not male students to remain virgins until marriage, and expels female students who are suspected of having been raped, on the basis that rape victims are no longer virgins, and refuses to provide these students a fair opportunity to present their side of the story, the Constitution does not prohibit that.

        Nor is the Constitution implicated if the state or Congress refuses to prohibit such a policy, or disqualify such a university from receiving funds.

        But the Constitution would be implicated if Congress conditioned a one-penny tax credit on the adoption of such a policy,.

        In general, Congress obviously can not require private individuals to do what it itself is forbidden to do- at least not without satisfying strict scrutiny. It can not require private individuals or organizations to set up churches, nor discriminate on the basis of race, nor break into people’s homes to search for drugs absent a warrant.

        But could Congress forbid private organizations from adopting greater protections for its members (both procedural and substantive) than that guaranteed by the Constitution? Could it forbid a university from adopting a “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard in disciplinary hearings, even though a “preponderance of the evidence” standard is used in civil courts when rape victims sue their attackers for monetary damages?

        That is an open question.

        • All good comments and questions, Mike.

          I believe that the only way to stop such antics is to sue the ever lovin’ crap out of liberal institutions and try to hold the individuals who enforce said policies accountable in the only place they care: their private pocketbook.

          Liberals are conservative in their private lives. Witness the outrage of the feminist whose son fell afoul of the very policies she advocated for.

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