The incoming Biden administration may have chased Betsy DeVos out of the Department of Education, but they haven’t managed to wipe out all the progress she made. At least… not yet. But one liberal activist group named “Know Your IX” is trying to change that. They issued a report this week designed to apply more pressure to the President and get him to wipe out changes DeVos made to the Education Department in how schools handle the investigation of sexual assault allegations on campus. One advocate described the results of a fair hearing abiding by due process rules as “an insane result.” The irony of a group calling for more “justice” for female students working to deprive individuals accused of serious crimes access to due process is apparently completely lost on them. It would almost be funny if it weren’t such a serious matter. (NBC News)
In the latest attempt to ramp up pressure on the Biden administration to overhaul regulations on how schools deal with sexual misconduct, the advocacy group Know Your IX released a 37-page report Monday describing hardships students say they’ve experienced after filing Title IX complaints.
The report, based on testimonials from 107 students who reported sexual violence to their schools over the past decade, described students dropping out of college, feeling suicidal and facing threats of defamation lawsuits from the accused. Two students said their attackers hired a private investigator to track them, while two others described developing chronic nervous system disorders from the stress of their assaults and the school investigations.
Know Your IX’s report highlights what victims’ rights advocates see as urgent and long-standing problems with how sexual assault victims are treated on campuses.
You can read their full report here if you wish. It might be tempting to believe that this “report” is some sort of analysis of government policy and procedures with an eye toward the legality of the processes involved in resolving sexual assault allegations on campus. Sadly, that’s not the case. Rather than being a legal analysis, the report is primarily the results of a survey of more than one hundred students who reported instances of alleged sexual assault or harassment and descriptions of how their cases played out. The survey in question was conducted via “social media—namely Instagram and Twitter—and email listservs.”
Some of the incidents described by survey respondents are certainly disturbing and they merit investigation by law enforcement. But that avenue of resolution is rarely mentioned in this report as far as I could see. It’s mostly a litany of complaints about how reports were handled by the faculty and school administration under the rules implemented by DeVos. The demands for a reversal of those guidelines are drawn from the anecdotal reports of the affected students.
Reading some of the categories of what they find “wrong” with the current system is a jaw-dropping experience. There’s an entire section dedicated to what they describe as “perpetrator backlash.” This suggests that actions taken by a person accused of sexual assault or harassment are causes of additional “harm” and need to be banned. Examples of these supposedly harmful actions include:
- Retaliatory cross-filing
- Abuse through attorneys, private investigators
- Use of defamation suits
In other words, this “backlash” consists of most of the normal facets of due process available to anyone accused of a crime. If the alleged perpetrator believes that they have been falsely accused and files a complaint in response, that’s “abusive.” If they seek to be represented by an attorney or pay to have an investigation into the alleged events conducted, that creates more “harm.” If the accusation is not substantiated and the accused files a defamation suit in response, they are forcing the accuser to experience more “trauma.”
Apparently, the only appropriate course of action for a student accused of something like this is to quietly stand alone before some kangaroo court comprised of professors and school administrators and wait to have their educational path and future career destroyed, even if they know they didn’t do what is being claimed. There is no suggestion that the police should be called in to investigate the alleged commission of a very serious crime or that the perpetrator should stand before an actual judge and jury. No, that would apparently also be too traumatizing.
When the kangaroo court is finished, it has no authority to do anything but expel the student. If it turns out that the accused actually was guilty and is a sexual predator, he is then free to travel to a new community and abuse more women. If the allegation was baseless, the falsely accused student will still wind up with nothing more than a high school degree and a job washing cars somewhere.
The changes to Title IX made by Betsy DeVos were never intended to shield the guilty. They were intended to actually hold the guilty responsible and subject them to the rule of law while preventing the unjust punishment of the falsely accused. The old system that this group wants to restore does neither, leaving the matter in the hands of those without the required skills and experience to investigate crimes, determine guilt or innocence, or mete out punishment to the guilty. But if it makes someone feel better, I suppose that’s what we’re supposed to base legal proceedings on now.