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August 30 2018

Kangaroo courts for campus sexual assault can't end soon enough

via Washington Examiner
by Inez Feltscher Stepman

Reports say Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos is crafting new Title IX guidelines with regard to sexual assault on college campuses. The new, as-yet-unofficial guidelines allow schools to introduce elements of traditional due process, such as cross-examination, into the quasi-courtroom proceedings many universities use for sexual assault accusations, and draw stricter boundaries around harassment claims.

Feminists have been quick to paint the Trump administration as callous toward rape victims, claiming the changes would “tip the playing field towards those accused.” In reality, due process guarantees have been gutted across the country in an attempt to adjudicate ambiguous cases, in which both the alleged perpetrator and victim are often intoxicated.

Examples of serious miscarriage of justice abound across the country.

A James Madison University student was accused of sexual assault in 2014. After initially clearing him, the university “tried” him a second time, in what a real court would consider double jeopardy, and suspended him for five years. His accuser was a woman with whom he had sex several times and communicated with for a week before she caught another girl in his room, after which she claimed that their first sexual encounter had been nonconsensual. It took two years for him to be vindicated in federal court.

In an another recent egregious case, a black student is taking Brown University to court for discrimination after the university disciplined him, and eventually ran him off campus, for an incident behind a bar where a white female “bit, choked, and pinned him” aggressively while kissing him, but later filed a sexual assault complaint.

The Obama guidelines have produced a system of adjudication so absurd and unfair that victim and perpetrator can be determined by which party to a drunken hookup files with the administration first.

Another element of the proposed changes is getting less press attention, but is at least equally important: a limitation of the definition of sexual harassment under Title IX to conduct “so severe, pervasive and objectively offensive that it denies a person access to the school’s education program or activity.” This standard, which is treated as controversial in the New York Times, is merely a restatement of the line the Supreme Court drew in 1999, when it ruled in the case of Davis v. Monroe County Board of Education.

The Obama administration encouraged an interpretation of the law that treated what ought to have been First Amendment-protected speech, perhaps subjectively offensive to some, as a potential violation of Title IX.

In response, universities set up speech codes that curtailed free speech rights by classifying it as harassment, publishing overly-broad definitions like “derogatory language directed at another person’s sexuality or gender.” Two years ago, a tenured female professor was fired from Louisiana State University under the school’s broad sexual harassment code — not for anything that the average person would recognize as harassment, but for using blunt and vulgar language in the classroom that offended some students.

While students’ constitutional rights have largely been vindicated in the courtroom, under the Obama Title IX guidance, university administrators have often been more afraid of losing federal loan funds than paying out settlements to the victims of their overbroad policies.

In their quest for sexual liberation, feminists gutted the societal guardrails around the relationships between men and women. Because they falsely insist on the interchangeability of the sexes, they fail to see that many of these old-fashioned rules existed to protect women, and that sexually cavalier men benefit more than women from a campus environment where dating has been replaced by the hook-up culture.

Unable to articulate in sufficiently “woke” terms why so many women felt used rather than empowered by sexual encounters with no promise of even short-term commitment, the feminist Left has expanded the notion of “consent” beyond any common-sense boundaries, and weaponized it against any relations they consider less than fulfilling.

The way to stop the madness is not to promulgate more legalistic rules and try men in kangaroo courts for failing to read women’s minds. The war between the sexes sparked by misguided feminists cannot be solved by scrapping due process, a tradition that predates even our country's founding. And in the process of trying, universities have been destroying the lives of innocent young men.

The Department of Education cannot broker a truce between Mars and Venus, but it can stop encouraging universities to wield Title IX as a club to ruin lives. If the final proposed changes are similar to the drafts seen so far, Betsy DeVos is off to a good start.

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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