When an accusation of sexual misconduct is lodged on campus, it is important that both the accuser and the accused receive a fair hearing.
The Obama administration put forward guidelines for handling these accusations that come close to eliminating the civil rights of the accused. He (and it generally is a he) is not allowed due process. It is almost impossible for the accused to mount a defense.
That this system isn't working is reflected in the number of "convictions" from campus tribunals that have been overturned in proper courts of law. Given that administration guidelines have stacked the deck against the accused and in effect turned the tribunals into kangaroo courts, it's time for a fresh approach.
Our friends at SAVE (Stop Abusive and Violent Environments) have put out a new model bill that upholds the rights of both complainant and the accused student, and furthermore encourages the criminal justice system (which has more expertise than campus tribunals) to get involved in such cases.
Law enforcement is also more likely to be fair because universities, knowing what the administration wants and that the administration controls Title IX funding, may bend over backwards to get a result that goes against the accused.
I urge you to take a look at SAVE's Campus Equality, Fairness, and Transparency Act (CEFTA). Here is their summary of the proposals contained in the model legislation:
- Provides definitions for a range of sexual offenses and codifies the U.S. Supreme Court definition of sexual harassment (Davis v. Monroe, 1999).
- Requires universities to implement policies to reduce the incidence of sexual conduct violations associated with alcohol and drug abuse.
- Calls on universities to provide a range of educational, training, and support services.
- Mandates the provision of confidential advisors for both the complainant and accused student.
- Requires university investigators to conduct impartial and objective investigations.
- Delineates a series of due process protections for the accused student.
- Calls on universities to enter into a memorandum of understanding with local law enforcement agencies.
- Promotes transparency by requiring universities to make their sexual assault policies and procedures publicly available.
This is a step in the right direction.