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.