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February 6 2019

Witness for the defenses: It Can Be Risky in Title IX Proceedings

by Charlotte Hays

Jillian Kay Melchior has a must-read piece in this morning's Wall Street Journal. It deals with the peer pressure on those who serve as witnesses for the defense in campus Title IX proceedings.

We will lose due process, a cornerstone of western jurisprudence, if it becomes routine to pressure witnesses into remaining silent. It looks like we may be headed in that direction, at least in Title IX proceedings.

Among those whose story is told is Tanaya Devi, a Harvard doctoral candidate in economics. She provided testimony for the defense when Roland Fryer for whom she worked was accused of verbal sexual harassment and discrimination.  Here is what happened to Ms. Devi:

Ms. Devi publicly defended Mr. Fryer. Since then, she says she’s struggled to find research collaborators and has lost nearly every female friend at Harvard: “Suddenly, I would find that my emails were going unanswered. People would avert their gaze from me walking down the hall. There was this culture of guilty until proven innocent and, if you’re defending him, guilt by association.”

Ms. Devi adds that every one of her remaining friends has advised her not to defend Mr. Fryer. One told her that “at a place like this, which is extremely progressive, it will only have a cost—it will have no benefit.” Ms. Devi says she knows of others who also wanted to defend Mr. Fryer but “don’t want to go against the social-media mob.”

An immigrant from India, Ms. Devi fears her outspokenness will limit her job prospects in the U.S. “It’s very, very high-risk to identify myself and defend an accused person,” Ms. Devi says. “Everyone protects the identity of the of the accuser. She gets to hide under the mask of anonymity, and we have to destroy our futures.”

Education Secretary Betsy de Vos' proposed reforms will improve the situation.

I urge you to read the entire article.



Independent Women's Forum is an educational 501(c)(3) dedicated to developing and advancing policies that aren’t just well intended, but actually enhance people’s freedom, choices, and opportunities. IWF is the sister organization of the Independent Women’s Voice.​
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