We covered some of the rather unbelievable problems caused by the Obama administrations 2011 "letter of guidance" to universities threatening them with legal and financial penalties if they didn't make it easier to dispose of individuals alleged to have committed sexual assault. The drama, unfortunately, continues.
Let's first be very clear: Sexual assault is serious and those who are guilty should be jailed. We have zero mercy for people who commit rape or who drug others to have sex with them. Such behaviour is criminal and should be adjudicated by our criminal justice system.
But what has happened is that the "letter of guidance," which does NOT have the force of law, has created a system where basic due process obligations are summarily dismissed in favour of a guilty finding.
First, what universities define as "sexual assault" varies substantially. It includes everything from rape to grinding with someone on the dance floor.
Second, the system universities created is patently unfair. Those accused of this behaviour have no right to confront their accuser, no right to cross examine, and no right to counsel. They are at the mercy of people who do not have their best interest at heart.
Third, the people who officiate these cases are hardly unbiased or independent. They are "trained" in sexual assault, trauma, and "women's issues." There is zero accountability. Zero.
Fourth, even exculpatory evidence no longer matters. Yes, even exculpatory evidence no longer matters.
Finally, the penalty is serious and sometimes prevents individuals from entering other colleges. They are permanently stigmatised......even if innocent.
It is hard to believe that such a system exists in America and even more difficult to believe that such a system exists on our vaunted campuses. Individuals in the military, who are subject to the UCMJ, have more rights and due process protections.....and trust me, you do not want to be subject to a court martial.
These things are going on across campuses. Where are the protests? Where is the concern for justice, fairness, and due process? Where are all the liberals who preach these tenants in their classes and in their writings? Where are they? Injustice occurs in their own back yard and they look away. And where is the ACJS and the ASC? Total silence. Total acquiescence. .
Below is a link to a lawsuit filed by a student convicted of sexual assault at UC. UC has a couple of these lawsuits pending. I've dealt with the folks in judicial affairs on several occasions. Let's just say they should never have been given this power. EVER. They cannot adjudicate student cheating effectively or fairly and their treatment of athletes has been, well, highly questionable.
I want to close by expanding this debate a bit. The "letter" from DOE was issued by a handful of lawyers in their civil rights division. Think about this: A handful of unelected and unaccountable individuals, individuals with strong biases on certain subjects, dictate the terms of justice across campuses. There was no period of public vetting, discourse, or consultation. None. They simply crafted a 60+ page document threatening campuses with loss of federal funds or with DOJ investigations and poof......campus administrators and presidents fell in line. If you want to know how injustice occurs..........look no further. Compliance to authority through threat or force coupled with the silence of others.....and game over. Burke, the father of conservatism, said long ago that evil will exist when good men (and women) stay silent.
John Paul Wright and Matt DeLisi
Professors of Crime and Criminology