Via Robby Soave of Reason, skip to 1:56:15 of the clip below to see Rep. Jared Polis in action. Understand that he’s not making a libertarian argument here that private institutions, unlike public ones, should be free to accept or remove students as they see fit, however moronic and unfair their protocols for that might be. He’s arguing that a 20 percent standard might actually be prudent and equitable as a solution to the Great Campus Rape Panic that’s consumed feminism for the past few years.
Actually, this guy’s going much further than tolerating a standard in which 20 percent likelihood of guilt (a “reasonable likelihood” standard) is enough to warrant expulsion.
“It certainly seems reasonable that a school for its own purposes might want to use a preponderance of evidence standard [i.e. 51 percent likelihood of guilt], or even a lower standard. Perhaps a likelihood standard…. If I was running a (private college) I might say, well, even if there is only a 20 or 30 percent chance that it happened, I would want to remove this individual.”…
It seems like we ought to provide more of a legal framework, then, that allows a reasonable likelihood standard or a preponderance of evidence standard. If there are 10 people who have been accused, and under a reasonable likelihood standard maybe one or two did it, it seems better to get rid of all 10 people. We’re not talking about depriving them of life or liberty, we’re talking about them being transferred to another university, for crying out loud.”
Those two scenarios aren’t the same. The first imagines an actual investigation in which evidence is produced and the defendant is expelled if the “judge” finds it’s even 20 percent likely that he committed rape. The second imagines … I’m not sure what. Is he saying that in any batch of 10 rape accusations, you’re sure to have at least one or two who are guilty and therefore the whole group should be dismissed as a precaution? I don’t see any other way to read it than as him saying some kids should be expelled even if the evidence didn’t meet the “reasonable likelihood” threshold in their particular case. If that’s going to be the policy — kick ’em all out just to be on the safe side, the inverse of the “better that 10 guilty men go free…” maxim — then why require any standard of proof to begin with?
And even if you stick with the 20 percent “reasonable likelihood” standard in each individual case, what sort of evidence would be required to meet that standard? Is the mere fact that a woman is willing to accuse a man of a crime as grave as rape sufficiently damning that it makes you 20 percent certain that he’s guilty? If so, then Polis’s approach would justify expelling students for no better reason than that they’ve been accused, period.
Soave e-mailed Polis to ask, basically, whether he’s crazy and Polis replied that kicking a student out of school is no big deal. In fact, he said, if his own son were baselessly accused, he’d encourage him to transfer to another school right away since, and I quote, “It can be a living hell to go through endless campus investigations. I’ve seen this go down, and there really is no winning once the accusation is made even if the process provides formal vindication.” You would think a federal lawmaker might react to that by finding ways to make those investigations less of a living hell, but Polis’s advice to the unjustly accused is to simply roll with it, accept that they’ve been branded with the scarlet “R”, and uproot themselves in shame from a school they love to go get educated elsewhere. No biggie. Except, says Ashe Schow, it is a biggie:
As to Polis’ point about not depriving accused students of life or liberty, this, too, is not accurate. Expelled students do not simply transfer to other universities. There have been cases where accused students have transferred, but students expelled for sexual assault do not have an easy time continuing with their lives. They might not go to jail, but it often takes them years and thousands of dollars to move on…
As Cohn noted, schools aren’t rushing to admit students expelled for disciplinary reasons, much less sexual assault accusations. Students who are expelled lose years of their lives building connections and have to hold off on pursuing their careers. We know that not having a job early out of college can depress a person’s long-term wages. Delaying the graduation, education and career of an accused student based on little more than an accusation will likely have a profound effect on his life, future career and earning potential.
He’s ready to destroy a student’s life, leaving him to explain to future employers that he was expelled over a rape charge, with basically no requirement that the charge be credible. And you know why he’s doing that? Because, I think, the egregious federal standards on due process for campus rape accusations look better by comparison. Nothing makes Star Chamber justice seem fair like proposing de facto summary execution of the accused as an alternative.