Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Title IX is Not a Criminal Statute

I was glancing through the Times' round-up of comment on Betsy DeVos' plan to rethink the department's policy on campus sexual assault, and a theme kept coming up:
Due process does not guarantee justice, but without it injustice is nearly certain.

On too many campuses, a new attitude about due process — and the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty — has taken hold.

Defendants’ don’t get lawyers. Due process, of the sort we’re used to in real courts, is tossed by the wayside.

Our campuses are not exempt from the Constitution. There is no excuse for government-mandated kangaroo courts in any part of American life, especially in America’s institutions of higher learning.
Which I find a little strange, given that we are not talking about criminal trials, but school disciplinary proceedings. The absolute worst thing that can happen to someone who comes before one is to be expelled from school. I wonder if some of the conservatives up in arms because college students brought before these tribunals can't have a lawyer think high school school kids suspended for fighting in the halls should have lawyers, too.

I rather doubt it. In fact I bet some of them would rail against such gross government interference in school discipline. Which gets me back to my fear that nobody really cares what's going on here, they just want to be angry with somebody in the other party.


Unknown said...

Being expelled from school because of a false or stretched accusation that was badly judged by an amateur system part of whose concern is to avoid controversy sounds pretty bad to me.

The fact is we're talking about a kind of private judicial system, like a manor court. Those systems sit ill in the modern world and have not fared well under public scrutiny.

That said, you're surely right that conservatives are here largely actuated by a desire to shame feminists and university liberals. I'm sure their positions on, say, employers' para-judicial enforcement of work rules would be reversed.

G. Verloren said...

Given the cost of tuition, the expectation of students taking loans, and the fact of multiple years of one's life spent seeking an education, yes, the risk of expulsion without appeal or due process is in fact pretty grim.

It's an absurdly thorny situation. Clearly any number of guilty men getting away with rape is unacceptable. But at the same time, any number of innocent men being bankrupted solely due to hearsay is also unacceptable.

If there was some way to trust that the school administrations could and would be incredibly careful and judicious about using these powers, this might be remotely workable. But the reality of the situation is that almost no such administrations are actually trustworthy to the degree that would be necessary, for a wide variety of reasons.