Universities and colleges have come under increasing pressure during the Obama administration to prosecute cases of sexual harassment under Title IX, under threat to their funding. Rather than duplicate the due-process structures of courts, though, many have opted for kangaroo-court proceedings operating under the lowest standard for evidence that do not allow the accused representation, discovery, or the ability to challenge witnesses. Those accused have found themselves railroaded out of higher education — and they have begun to strike back in the real court system for the unfair manner in which they get treated.
The University of Colorado at Boulder settled one such case brought by a student suspended after having been “convicted” of “non-consensual sexual intercourse and non-consensual sexual contact.” The student sued after getting suspended for more than a year, claiming that CU-Boulder applied unfair procedures against him in their administrative handling of the accusations, and that the sexual contact in question was entirely consensual. The university has now agreed to pay $15,000 to John Doe and giving him a positive reference — even though the school apparently still maintains that he’s guilty and wants him to leave:
The University of Colorado has agreed to pay a suspended male student $15,000 and will not disclose without a waiver the details of his disciplinary record — which includes convictions under the campus judicial process in a 2013 sexual assault case.
The agreement was made with the CU junior known only as “John Doe,” as he identified himself — with a judge’s permission — when he sued the university last year under Title IX, the federal gender-equity law.
The university will not reveal his identity to the public and agreed to provide John Doe with a positive reference.
John Doe agreed to withdraw from the university.
“In response to any question about whether Mr. Doe would be welcome back to the university, the university will respond in the affirmative,” CU officials write in the settlement agreement. “In response to any question about Mr. Doe’s academic standing at the university during his tenure there, the university will respond, ‘Prior to his withdrawal, Mr. Doe was a student in good academic standing.'”
John Doe had been serving a three-semester suspension after being found guilty of non-consensual sexual intercourse and non-consensual sexual contact in violation of the CU Student Code of Conduct.
Samantha Harris at FIRE, which has kept an eye on these cases, points out the hypocrisy of this settlement:
So to sum this up, despite continuing to maintain that Doe committed sexual misconduct, CU will tell anyone who asks that he would be welcome back at the university, and, if asked directly, will be intentionally vague about the details of its misconduct findings.
There are only two possible scenarios here, and they both look incredibly bad for the university.
Scenario 1: CU does not actually think that Doe is a sexual offender or any kind of threat to other students, but it subjected him to an unfair process and found him responsible because it was under pressure from a federal investigation by the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) into its sexual misconduct policies and practices. This would suggest that CU cares more about its own interests than about whether students are actually guilty of the offenses of which they are accused.
Scenario 2: CU does think that Doe is a sexual offender and has nevertheless agreed—by promising him a positive reference and agreeing to remain vague about his disciplinary record—to make it easier for him to go someplace else (and possibly commit another offense) in order to make this lawsuit go away. This would suggest that CU is willing to put students at other schools at risk of sexual assault from a known offender to further its own interests.
Which is it, CU?
Actually, the university does have an answer to that question. It’s all about the money:
CU’s chief legal officer Patrick O’Rourke told the Daily that the settlement was a business decision, stating that “we believe an agreement that saves the university tens of thousands of dollars in defense costs was a prudent use of the university’s resources.” …
For those watching at home, yes, CU just called potentially clearing the way for an alleged rapist to continue his crimes on another campus “a prudent use of the university’s resources.” Please, tell us again how we can trust universities to serve as a victim-friendly alternative to the criminal justice system.
Of course it’s all about the money. The kind of abuses occurring in these Title IX witch-hunts are all about protecting the spigot of cash coming from the federal government in the form of student loans and grants. Thanks to the Obama administration, the federal government now has a monopoly on student loans. Schools that cater to a particular elite who can afford to fund their own education can shrug off the Department of Education and provide their students with legitimate due process and fairness in evidentiary standards, but the economic threat under Title IX is the incentive that drives those abuses at every other university and college in the US.
All this does is to make the hypocrisy plain.