Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos has rescinded Obama-era guidance on addressing accusations of sexual misconduct on campus that essentially set up kangaroo courts where the due process rights of the accused were eliminated.
But at least a dozen college administrators are defying DeVos and saying, in effect, "We like our kangaroo courts just fine." As an editorial in the Wall Street Journal this morning notes, these administrators are embracing a system that does not weigh evidence with an eye to ascertaining guilt or innocence and doesn't allow the accused to defend himself.
The editors observe:
It’s revealing that several campuses have responded with animus. But administrators don’t get to pick and choose which Department of Education guidance to follow, and schools in violation could lose federal funding or face Office of Civil Rights scrutiny.
Some recalcitrant universities are easy targets for Department of Education sanction. For instance, the University of Oregon insists that it already fairly and impartially adjudicates Title IX cases, so Mrs. DeVos’s guidance should have “very little, if any, impact on our current policies and procedures.”
But last December the Lane County Circuit Court overturned the university’s suspension of a student accused of sexual assault. That student is now also suing in federal court in Eugene, saying the university denied him due process and took “arbitrary, discriminatory and illegal actions designed to reach a predetermined action” against him.
Kathleen Salvaty, the administrator who presides over Title IX adjudication across all nine University of California campuses, says the system-wide practices “will remain in full effect.” She also claims the university’s Title IX policy already requires “equal rights for complainants and respondents.”
But this past summer, a federal judge in central California acknowledged plausible concerns that the university may have acted with gender bias and denied due process to an accused male student. Allowing the case against the UC Regents to proceed, Judge Stephen Wilson wrote that the unnamed student’s complaint “depicts the disciplinary proceedings as one-sided and against the weight of significant evidence” and “cast doubt on the accuracy of the outcome of the disciplinary proceedings.”
Rape is a heinous crime and we want rapists punished to the utmost extent of the law, but we do not want to see innocent people unable to mount a defense. The number of convictions overturned in real courts indicates that this has happened all too often. Overturned convictions are expensive for colleges and universities.