Sexual harassment is a very serious charge. Unfortunately, on too many college campuses, sexual harassment guidelines are vague and offer little protection for the accused, leaving them open to abuse. FIRE, the non-profit group dedicated to defending individual rights on campus, highlights the most recent, egregious example:
The abuse of campus sexual harassment policies to punish dissenting professors has hit a new low at East Georgia College (EGC) in Swainsboro. Professor Thomas Thibeault made the mistake of pointing out-at a sexual harassment training seminar-that the school’s sexual harassment policy contained no protection for the falsely accused. Two days later, in a Kafkaesque irony, Thibeault was fired by the college president for sexual harassment without notice, without knowing his accuser or the charges against him, and without a hearing. Thibeault turned to the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) for help.
The Independent Women’s Forum has also written about the need for sexual harassment guidelines that are clear and provide protections for the accused as well as the accuser (see this paper written by Allison Kasic and Kate Schindler). It may be politically easy–particularly on liberal college campuses–to focus only on the serious harm caused by harassment. But it’s important to remember the harm that can be caused by false accusations and to maintain the presumption of innocence until proven guilty.