Women have nothing to fear from the Title IX proposed changes by Secretary Betsy DeVos’s Department of Education. On the contrary, it is a fair process and they stand to gain a lot.
Other coverage has not been as sober-minded. Even the ACLU (rememberwhen that stood for American Civil Liberties Union?) has blasted the proposed rule as “inappropriately favoring the accused.” But the changes to Title IX enforcement are completely common sense, restoring some semblance of justice to the kangaroo court “trials” that have been taking place across America’s campuses for the last several years.
Let’s start with a fact that all corners of the political spectrum should be able to face: the old process was not working. The Obama-era guidelines were so skewed against accused men that hundreds of them sued the universities that declared them guilty in state and federal courts, forcing big bucks in payouts that might have otherwise gone to pay professors or provide scholarships for students.
Those same guidelines were so overboard that the roles of victim and accused in an alcohol-fueled hookup could be determined by who got to the Title IX complaint office first in the morning, prompting men to file preemptive “defensive” sexual assault allegations.
The country got a hard look at the campus Title IX environment during the hearings for now-Justice Kavanaugh, and most Americans didn’t like what they saw. Seventy-five percent — not just the conservative right — of those polled agreed that Democrats egregiously mishandled the processing of Dr. Ford’s allegations. And almost 60 percent of men and women no longer think a man accused of sexual misconduct has the presumption of innocence. Americans recognized that the emotion-soaked melee that has replaced traditional principles of justice is antithetical to the pursuit of truth, and what they saw on display comes directly from the model of university Title IX investigations.
DeVos’ changes roll back some of the madness and place appropriate boundaries on how allegations of sexual assault at universities can be investigated. The rule reinstates basic principles of fairness that have been part of both the American legal system and our general culture for centuries.
For example, the proposed rule reintroduces cross-examination — “the greatest legal engine ever invented for the discovery of truth” — back into the process. Despite fake news from some, this does not mean that victims will be cross-examined by their alleged assaulters; in fact, the two never even have to be in the same room. Rather, counsel or another representative of the accused will have the opportunity to ask questions and probe any inconsistencies in the accusation.
Other key changes include banning the increasingly popular but grossly unfair single-investigator model where a single fact finder both examines the facts and renders a decision. The new rule also properly limits the jurisdiction of Title IX to campus and school events, recognizing the reality that while they don’t always act like it, college students are adults for whom universities cannot always be responsible.
The new rule isn’t perfect. It still allows, for example, alleged victims to appeal a finding of innocence, which in the legal system would be constitutionally impermissible double jeopardy. But the changes are a vast improvement, protecting fairness for all involved rather than following the discredited mantra “believe all women.”
Because women believe in fairness and due process too.