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The left has been freaking out over the confirmation of Betsy Devos as Education secretary. Much of this hysteria has to do with her views on school choice, but it’s also rooted in the perception that Devos is an enemy of Title IX.
As Reason.com explained:
Passed in 1972, Title IX is the federal statute banning gender-based discrimination in any educational institution that receives federal funding.
Devos has not publicly commented on whether she would look to remove or replace Title IX, instead she has drawn criticism for making financial contributions to the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, also known as FIRE – a free speech and due process advocacy group. FIRE has said:
The basic protections for which FIRE argues—the right to the active participation of counsel; the right to see the evidence in one’s case and to meaningfully question witnesses; and the right to an impartial tribunal, among others—benefit all parties and do not impede the pursuit of justice. Outside of the campus context, nobody would argue that reducing due process protections, including the burden of proof, is necessary to secure a just outcome.
Title IX activists are concerned that DeVos will go after the federal statue.
Know Your IX, an activist organization that works to diminish due process protections for students accused of sexual assault on university campuses, is tweeting under the hashtag #DearBetsy in hopes of pressuring her to continue the Education Department’s misguided and legally suspect campaign against fairness and justice in university misconduct hearings.
As Reason has oft explained, colleges and universities have used Title IX as a basis for suspending due process rights of students accused of sexual assault.
It doesn’t take much more than a quick Google search to see what they mean. Take this case from Brown University – a U.S. District Court recently ruled that the school had mistreated an accused male student.
In 2014, a male student (“John Doe”) heavily petted a female student (“Ann Roe”), who then gave him oral sex. Before and after, the students exchanged very sexually explicit messages. It wasn’t until a year later, after their relationship soured, that Roe went to administration, saying she’d been sexually assaulted that night.
The university chose an investigator to look into these allegations, and her report and testimony were among central points of conflict in the district court case.
The investigator was supposed to conduct interviews, collect evidence, and present a report on the facts. But she also essentially provided advice to the Title IX panel about how they should decide the case — even though such a recommendation is prohibited.
Or take another case from the University of Michigan which drew coverage from the Washington Post.
Drew Sterret filed a federal suit against the University of Michigan.
…the federal court granted a motion to dismiss Sterrett’s claims against all but one: Heather Cowan, an equal opportunity specialist at the school who first interviewed him about CB’s allegations in August 2012.
When Cowan first approached him, Sterrett said, he had no knowledge of CB’s claim, and only “eventually gleaned that it involved unspecified sexual misconduct allegations.” Sterrett contended in court that this failure to provide adequate notice of the allegation against him and the university’s failure to provide a sufficient hearing violated his constitutional right to due process.
At notoriously liberal Amherst, a male student was expelled for sexual assault after the school refused to look at text messages that would clear the accused student’s name.
This is one of the few cases where we have an actually good idea of what happened the night in question. Doe accompanied the accuser (who was Doe’s girlfriend’s roommate) to her dorm room. The accuser performed oral sex on a blacked out Doe (Johnson notes that even the Amherst hearing found Doe’s account of being blacked out “credible”). Doe leaves. The accuser then texted two people: First, a male student she had a crush on — whom she invited over after a heavily flirtatious exchange earlier in the evening. Then, a female friend.
The accuser said during her hearing that she only texted one friend to help her handle the assault as she felt “very alone and confused.” But her texts with her female friend give no indication of an assault. Rather, the accuser texted her friend “Ohmygod I jus did something so fuckig stupid” [sic throughout]. She then proceeded to fret that she had done something wrong and her roommate would never talk to her again, because “it’s pretty obvi I wasn’t an innocent bystander.”
She also complained that the other man, who had come over after the alleged assault, had taken until 5 in the morning to finally have sex with her.
The accuser found herself friendless after the encounter, when her roommate discovered what she had done.
Between the encounter with Doe and the accusation — nearly two years later — the accuser developed new friends. And as it happens, these new friends were all “victims’ advocates.
To say that Title IX hasn’t done any good would be absurd. It’s paved the way for equality on campus – from social life to sports. Whether students living on liberal campuses are willing to accept that they have in fact achieved equality – at least within their university bubbles – is one thing, but it is undeniable that Title IX was effective in its appropriate time and place. However it appears the statue has outlived its utility.
No one who opposes this implementation of Title IX is making a case in favor of sexual assault. The act is abhorrent and reprehensible, but investigating and adjudicating such cases are responsibilities best left to the police and court system. Likewise, it’s admirable that school administrators are taking an active role in victims’ advocacy, and working to ensure that their students are safe on campus, but doing so at the expense of due process for the accused is more than a step too far. Let’s hope that under Devos’ leadership Title IX is finally deep sixed.
This contributor is a Marine veteran that has served in the Middle East. Due to the sensitive nature of his current job, he has requested to remain anonymous.