Two Democrat senators on Wednesday called for U.S. Department of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to withdraw the improved rules her office proposed this month relating to how colleges and universities investigate accusations of sexual assault.
The new rules, which Sens. Patty Murray (D-WA) and Maggie Hassan (D-NH) apparently dislike, provide some much needed sanity and due process to the investigations. They held a press conference on Wednesday with self-described victims of sexual assault and advocates where they incorrectly claimed the new rules would “return us to a time when sexual assault survivors were ignored and felt they had nowhere to turn," according to Murray.
Hassan also claimed there was an epidemic of sexual assault on college campuses (there isn’t), calling the new rules, which include basic fairness and due process, a “major step backward in the wrong direction.”
The new rules require schools to provide accusers and the accused all the evidence that will be used during any hearing. Previously, schools would withhold exculpatory evidence from accused students or refuse to tell them the actual allegations against them so they could defend themselves. The new rules also follow consistent court rulings saying schools must provide some form of cross-examination, especially when credibility is at state in “he said/she said” situations.
These new rules also allow schools to use a higher standard of proof when deciding whether to destroy an accused student’s future before expelling him or her (almost always a him). Due to the current #MeToo obsession, however, it is unlikely many schools will actually increase their standards, since they are much more afraid of the negative publicity caused by lawsuits brought by accusers.
This, this, is what these senators don’t like. If their tweets and public statements are any indication, they see due process and the presumption of innocence as the enemy of women, preferring the Obama-era rules that denied due process in order to find more accused students responsible — whether they were perpetrators or not.
Others who spoke at the press conference claim the new rules would have prevented them from punishing the accused. Sage Carson, manager of the activist organization Know Your IX, said the previous rules are the reason she was able to graduate.
"In the months following my assault, my grades steadily dropped," Carson said during the press conference. "I was forced to see him every time I went to class."
She said she was able to get a “no-contact order” against the man she accused, something that would still be available under the proposed rules.
Chrissy Weathersby Ball, a victim of former Olympic doctor Larry Nassar, said he wouldn’t have been brought to justice because his behavior wasn’t reported to the proper campus authorities.
So, report it to the proper campus authorities. Also, Nassar wasn’t brought to justice until this year, so the current rules weren’t exactly protecting students from him either.
Nothing any of the speakers at the press conference said would be impossible to achieve under the new rules. The new rules — developed after speaking to activist organizations for accusers and the accused, lawyers, and campus officials — provide accused students with much needed due process, something utterly lacking from the current procedures. As I’ve written previously, the hatred of due process and basic fairness (and sanity) is the first sign we’re experiencing a moral panic.