The beginning of the end for campus kangaroo courts
Good news for college men: You’re welcome again on campus.
On Friday, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos ripped up the Obama administration’s one-sided rules on how colleges and universities handle accusations of sexual assault and misconduct. The rules, imposed in 2011, were so stacked against the accused — usually young men — that dozens of innocent male students were branded as rapists, kicked out of school and robbed of future job opportunities.
Those with sufficient money and fortitude managed to get their names cleared in real courts of law — where rules of evidence, due process and reasonable standards of proof apply. Last month, a California judge threw out a rape case against a 20-year-old University of Southern California student after videotapes showed the sexual encounter with a female student was consensual.
Advocates for the Obama rules defend them as “survivor centered.” Translation: They’re biased against the accused. And bias has no place in a court. The Obama rules have been criticized by the American Bar Association, the American College of Trial Lawyers and Harvard Law School faculty — hardly right-wingers.
DeVos promises new rules in the coming months. Vowing no tolerance for sexual assault, she said “schools must continue to confront those horrific crimes and behaviors head-on.” But, “the process also must be fair and impartial.”
Fair? Don’t hold your breath. Campuses are so dominated by anti-male ideology that it’s unlikely men there will be given a fair shake under any rules.
The parade of lives ruined by campus sex tribunals proves college administrators are eager to deny males the right to have a lawyer, know the charges, gather evidence, cross-examine witnesses or even be presumed innocent until proven guilty. That’s not going to change overnight.
Instead of improving “campus justice” — a phrase that’s become an oxymoron — DeVos should require schools to bring in police capable of collecting forensic evidence and dealing with sex charges, and defer to real courts whenever a student is accused of sexual assault or rape.
Colleges need to get out of the business of sex trials. And into the business of opening students’ eyes to the downsides of sexual promiscuity — especially fueled by binge drinking.
Right now, many colleges foster an atmosphere of freewheeling hedonism. At Harvard, that includes running naked laps around the Yard to bring out students’ “animalistic roots.” At nearly all colleges, dorms and bathrooms are coed. Schools like Yale, Amherst and Princeton kick it up a notch, offering coed bedrooms. Colleges are creating conditions that pressure sexually inexperienced students to hook up, often after drinking. That leads to mixed signals, false expectations and regrets. Casual sex can be emotionally bruising.
No wonder some women who engage in consensual sex claim afterward that they hadn’t agreed. Feminists are actually redefining sex-with-regrets as rape — casting young men as rapists.
A video for incoming Brown University students teaches that “consent is knowing that my partner wants me just as much as I want them.” Good luck. Even sexually experienced adults can’t always tell.
Every college requires incoming students to hear lectures on consent — ask before kissing, ask before touching, ask again and again. Few warn about the physical dangers and psychological pressures — despite evidence that students who engage in repeated hook-ups suffer.
Colleges are being hypocritical, fostering a sexual hothouse environment — then pinning the blame on young men when things go wrong. DeVos should put an end to college sex courts and require equal treatment for young men and young women.
Betsy McCaughey is a senior fellow at the London Center for Policy Research.