Brown University has created a parallel set of policies for sexual misconduct allegations that would deny accused students their constitutional due process rights, in an attempt to circumvent the Title IX regulations adopted by the Trump administration.
The Brown Daily Herald reported the new policy on Sunday, claiming it was supposed to “complement” Brown’s current sexual misconduct guidelines for allegations that fall within the university’s legal purview. From the Herald:
The new policy adds to the existing regulations implemented by Title IX, University policy and Rhode Island laws. This includes creating a broader definition of sexual harassment and categorizing sexual exploitation — which includes voyeurism, prostitution, disseminating sexual images of a person, exposing genitals and purposely exposing someone to a sexually transmitted infection — as prohibited conduct.
The policy also extends Title IX rules to apply to misconduct that takes place off-campus, including actions of staff or students taken during Brown-sponsored programs and activities abroad. It also expands the University’s jurisdiction to address misconduct that occurs between Brown-affiliated individuals, even if that misconduct is not committed on University property.
Additionally, the new policy “does not allow direct questioning of the parties and witnesses by the advisor of the other party during a hearing.”
Guidelines from the Trump administration that were formally adopted last May narrowed Brown and other universities’ jurisdiction in sexual assault cases, meaning colleges and universities couldn’t act as a de facto police department for allegations that didn’t occur on university property or within university-sponsored events.
Brown now insists it has jurisdiction over student behavior no matter where it occurs, an issue that existed prior to the Trump administration when schools acted as police and the judicial system for allegations that should have been handled by actual police.
In a letter to the Brown community, the university’s Title IX Coordinator Rene Davis insisted that everyone she spoke with about the new policy “were positive about the policy, especially its coverage of specific off-campus behaviors and the change in how cross-examination takes place,” indicating Davis only spoke to activists and students unaware of how the American legal system works or how detrimental campus policies denying due process rights have become over the past decade.
The Herald spoke to activists who praised the policy specifically for its overreach.
K.C. Johnson, an author and professor who has written extensively against universities’ attempts to deny due process, said Brown’s new policy would be hard to reconcile with activist claims “that [universities] aren’t eager to address misconduct claims.”
For more than a decade, activists have claimed schools sweep allegations of sexual misconduct under the rug, which led the Obama administration to enact guidelines in 2011 (which did not go through a formal regulatory process and thus never truly carried the weight of law) that eviscerated due process rights for accused students, leading to hundreds of lawsuits from students with significant evidence that they were wrongly accused and railroaded by their schools.