I will be the first to say that Betsy DeVos was a pitiful choice as secretary of education. I am a proud product of the classic underfunded, small 1-A school, and I detest her educational elitism.
However, her recent decision to reform Title IX is one decision that I can actually get behind. The purpose of this article is not to question the validity of the majority of reported sexual assaults but rather to question the methods used by universities to handle these cases.
On paper, Title IX is all about prohibiting discrimination in education or federally funded “activities” on the basis of sex. In 2011, it fell onto the shoulders of colleges to enforce consequences for sexual violence on campuses. That sounds fine, but unfortunately, common sense wasn’t always applied to these practices.
Under the Obama administration, universities handled sexual assault cases as investigator, judge and jury.
The 2011 change mandated that colleges must use the standard of “preponderance of evidence,” rather than “beyond a reasonable doubt,” when adjudicating sexual assault cases. This way of deciding guilt or innocence is the standard in civil cases and guilt is proven simply by showing a 50.01 percent certainty of guilt, even if there is a 49.99 percent chance the person is innocent.
Supporters of this process argued that universities were inept to handle cases at a criminal law standard, despite the fact that sexual assault is a serious violent crime, which puts the reputation and financial future of the accused on the line.
The specifics of what DeVos hopes to change have not been explicitly stated at the time of this writing, but from DeVos’ speech, it is clear that the intent is to prevent the overreach of universities in the handling of sexual assault cases.
Most of the arguments I have seen against the decision to revise Title IX policies are the typical “white male privilege” drivel that the political left has become fond of spitting out.
Despite this popular line of reasoning, evidence suggests that African-American males are accused by white females at a disproportionate rate. Historically, black men have been easy targets for false sexual assault accusations, and anecdotal and statistical evidence from universities such as Harvard, Colgate and William Paterson shows that the trend might be leaking into campus cases.
White liberals often like to pat themselves on the back as heroes to racial minorities, but an unquestioning support of Obama-era Title IX practices that unfairly treated black men on college campuses without due process reveal this as a hypocrisy of convenience.
In fact, the Office for Civil Rights does not require colleges to record information on race in sexual assault cases. Perhaps there’s something they would rather not be seen. How many accusations were cases of racial scapegoating, and how many black men were unfairly punished for an assault they did not commit?
We will likely never know. Ignorance is liberal bliss, I guess.
Campus sexual assault cases should be handled with the utmost respect and fairness to the parties involved and with an absolute regard for the law.
Let’s hope that the revisions made under the Trump administration make an effort to secure the ideals that Title IX represent, and the security of all becomes greater for it.
Matthew Dean is a senior criminal justice major from Possumneck.