The Trump administration issued new regulations for college investigations into sexual misconduct on Wednesday, May 6. While the Obama administration had encouraged schools to act without respect to fundamental fairness for the accused, the new regulations give students access to due process. In other words: No more kangaroo courts for college students. U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos wrote:
“Two years ago, I promised to address the scourge of sexual misconduct on our nation’s campuses. The new #TitleIX regulation delivers on that promise. It treats all students fairly and holds all schools accountable if they fail to protect their students.”
Now students accused of impropriety will have a chance to defend themselves. While the scourge of sexual misconduct is a real concern, so is the railroading of accused students, typically young men. They have been denied due process and offered as sacrifices to the altar of progressive shibboleths. All people who demand punishment be associated with guilt and that basic fairness accompany even quasi-judicial proceedings should celebrate the new rules. Sadly, that doesn’t include everyone, namely progressives.
In Loco Parentis
Any student accused of sexual assault on a college campus will be entitled to a hearing on the matter, and the accuser will be subject to some cross-examination. These due process requirements may seem quite basic, but they represent a sea change from the Obama era. His Department of Education’s “Dear Colleague” letter on Title IX enforcement required school administrators to give no due process rights to accused students – and then he stood by while many young men were victimized by the process he advanced.
In the worst of these cases, a college administrator might “help” a student realize that a sexual encounter she had a year or more earlier was not consensual. Under the previous rules, there would be no barrier to that administrator then being in charge of investigating the alleged perpetrator and issuing both a judgment and a punishment. Outrageous? Indeed – but supportive of the dominant progressive politics of the campus.
First the Sentence, Then the Crime
Reactions to the change in regulations came down along ideology, too. Supporters of individual rights and responsibilities championed the move, while progressives denounced it. Jennifer C. Braceras, director of the Independent Women’s Law Center, said “[t]hese regulations serve the interests of both fairness and justice,” and:
“The new regulations restore the presumption of innocence, require schools to notify accused students of the specific allegations against them in a timely manner, and allow both parties a meaningful opportunity to tell their version of events to an impartial arbiter.”
One of the best examples of a progressive take on the rule change comes from Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA), who tweeted that DeVos needed to resign because “No one should have to be cross-examined by their rapist.”
How breathtaking that a sitting member of the U.S. Congress would advocate that accusations should equal guilt, absent any investigation or review. Well – at least when the accused isn’t a Democrat, anyway.
While students who have been treated unacceptably by their institutions of higher learning may find relief in the courts, that road is both long and expensive. A better course is not to conduct show trials based on gender and class bias in the first place. Hopefully, the future now holds fewer victims of college administrators and those who have suffered sexual misconduct will have real due process to protect their claims as well.
Read more from Scott D. Cosenza.
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