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Is the Tide Turning on the Rape Culture Crusade?

For a time now, the crusade to declare a rape culture on campuses and to address it through a series of standards that denies accused males a variety of due process protections has been progressing largely unimpeded.  Perhaps the high point was the California affirmative consent statute and the Rolling Stone article on the alleged University of Virginia rape at a fraternity.

But since those two events, there has been a significant pushback against the crusade.  Of course, the crumbling of the Rolling Stone article has been important, showing once again (after Duke, after Hofstra, etc, etc.) that such allegations are sometimes not credible.  But it has also been 28 Harvard Law Professors – mainly of the left – who have attacked the one sided standards at Harvard.

Now comes an excellent article by Emily Yoffe who writes the Dear Prudence column at Slate.  Yoffe is no right winger (in fact, I have sometimes disagreed with her advice from my own political perspective) and has very mainstream media credentials.

Yoffe’s piece is a must read.

It provides detailed descriptions of some of the cases where colleges appeared to have acted in a biased manner.  It discusses the bases of fake statistics, such as that one in five college women are raped or sexually assaulted.  It shows the unfairness of the standards.  And it highlights the overreaching behavior of the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights:

“Not Alone,” billed as “The First Report of the White House Task Force to Protect Students From Sexual Assault,” was released to great fanfare at the White House in April, and it outlined how OCR [the Office of Civil Rights] would help implement the report’s stated goals. Not Alone encouraged schools to consider adopting a “single-investigator” model—as Harvard has done—in which a sole administrator is tasked with being investigator, prosecutor, judge, and jury in sexual assault cases. Since that person would work at the school’s Title IX office, which is tasked with keeping the school off the list of those being scrutinized by the federal government, impartiality may not be that person’s first imperative.

Being investigated by OCR for a Title IX violation places a college on a growing federal list of shame, now 88 schools long. Even more disastrous is standing up to OCR. The agency has the power to pull a school’s federal funding, essentially putting a school out of business—ask Tufts University if they’re willing to use it. A female Tufts student had accused a former boyfriend of rape, and after he was cleared (and the female student sanctioned for misleading campus authorities in the course of their investigation), she brought a Title IX complaint against the school. OCR’s mandate was to look at Tufts’ procedural deficiencies, not the finding in the case, and it criticized Tufts at length. The university agreed to make all the OCR’s recommended changes: to improve its protections for accusers and speed up its resolution process, among other things. The school also agreed to give a monetary settlement to the female student. But Tufts balked at signing off on OCR’s finding that the school was a Title IX violator. It issued a statement saying the school “could not, in good faith, allow our community to believe that we are not in compliance with such an important law.” In response, OCR told Tufts it would pull the university’s federal funds, a threat, the Boston Globe wrote, that was “so catastrophic that it virtually required Tufts to reach some understanding with the government.” It took only a few days for Tufts to cave.

The article suggests, and I believe, that OCR’s power needs to be cut back.  The idea that this office could pull federal funding from a school for a single incident is absurd and represents a tremendous lack of freedom.

Perhaps the tide is turning, but in any event Yoffe’s article is an important one that needs to be read.

Update:

More important information is becoming available, even if it is little reported by the mainstream media.  A report issued by the Department of Justice (of all places) indicates that women in college are less at risk for rape and sexual assault than women of the same age who do not attend college.

Reader Discussion

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on December 16, 2014 at 12:06:07 pm

Ah, Mike! Statistics don't matter. What is important is that we (as our 1960's friends were so fond of saying) "Make a STATEMENT."
The government makes the statement, and we must (sorry Captain Piccard) "Make it so."

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Law & Liberty welcomes civil and lively discussion of its articles. Abusive comments will not be tolerated. We reserve the right to delete comments - or ban users - without notification or explanation.