Back in July, Congressmen Matt Salmon and Pete Sessions introduced legislation which suggests the radical, unique idea of bringing criminal cases to the police (or at least letting the principals have access to an attorney) in cases of sexual assault which take place on college campuses. If you find yourself scratching your head and wondering why this wasn’t already happening you’re not alone. But as we’ve seen with past stories covered here, colleges have gotten into the habit of holding kangaroo courts when students accuse someone of rape or other forms of sexual assault. In many instances, the accused can be kicked out of school and branded a villain without ever having seen a lawyer or had a chance to prove their innocence.

The groundbreaking legislation put forward the following heretical concepts: (WaPo)

• Students alleging sexual violence could decide whether to report the incident to law enforcement or not. If a serious crime were alleged and the student preferred not to involve police in an investigation, campus officials would not launch an internal investigation. But they could provide protections to the student, such as requiring the accused to avoid the accuser.

• All students involved, both those reporting an assault and those defending themselves against the charges, would have the right to hire lawyers at their own expense. Both sides could ask questions of witnesses.

• Those accused would have the right to know the charges they’re facing, and see the evidence against them.

That’s some scary stuff right there, isn’t it? It’s like something out of a science fiction movie. Or at least you’d think so given the reaction from the Social Justice Warrior crowd. (Daily Beast)

Kevin Kruger, the president of NASPA (Student Affairs Professionals in Higher Education), said requiring alleged victims to report a sexual assault would create a “chilling effect” for thousands of women, the majority of whom already don’t report their sexual assault to anyone.

“We strongly believe that victims should have the rights to pursue the course of action that’s right for them,” Kruger told The Daily Beast. “They want and need support.”…

Reading through the list of complaints from student activists in that article is an eye opening experience. On the surface, I suppose I can understand how some actual victims might still be fearful of bringing an accusation to law enforcement and it’s difficult to just stand here and say that they should be forced to do so against their will. But failing to have the proper authorities bring charges means that a guilty criminal will never face a jury and be punished for their crimes, potentially endangering future victims.

Asking the college to handle such a grave situation is an even worse option. If you were actually raped, the most they can do is expel the student from school. Is that fitting punishment?

Of course all of this ignores the fact that even when you are in college you are living in the United States and we have this little thing known as the legal system, not to mention that pesky old Constitution. People accused of a crime are entitled to various rights so as to ensure that they are actually guilty before they are punished and have the chance to defend themselves. And to be absolutely clear, if you are accusing a fellow student of any sort of sexual violence, it’s a crime. If it doesn’t rise to the level of a crime, then you are not a victim and are not entitled to ruin someone else’s life because you felt offended.

This law doesn’t go nearly far enough to ensure that the rule of law is followed but it’s at least a good start. What we really need to do is prosecute colleges who try to usurp the proper role of the courts and deny defendants the right to a normal defense when accused of a serious crime.