The university has capitulated to U.S. Department of Education demands that it water down due process protections for accused students and faculty [celebratory ED press release]. That’s a sign of the “madness” afoot on campus at the moment, says Prof. Elizabeth Bartholet [WSJ Law Blog] With 27 other Harvard law professors, Bartholet had signed a letter calling for the defense of procedural fairness in disciplinary complaints under Title IX, which at this rate might as well have been shouted into the wind.
KC Johnson has a more detailed analysis of the settlement agreement at Minding the Campus. Sample excerpt:
As has occurred in previous settlements with SUNY and SMU, OCR also inserted an ex post facto review of cases from the past two academic years, ordering the law school to reinvestigate sexual assault claims (under the new, lower threshold) and to provide “any additional remedies necessary.” Will previously acquitted students now be branded rapists?
A considerable portion of the resolution agreement, however, amounted to little more than OCR lashing out at the Harvard Law professors, and reminding the law faculty who now has the power in campus due process debates….
Under pressure from federal Title IX enforcers, universities have been weakening the procedural protections for accused students who seek a chance to respond to the charges against them. As a result, cases like that of Yale athlete Patrick Witt will become more frequent. [Boston Globe; my Commentary piece a year and a half ago] A contrasting view: Christina Stoneburner.
Don’t call it quotas, call it “statistical proportionality” [Christina Hoff Sommers, Time; earlier on Title IX]
Civil libertarian Wendy Kaminer, writing at WBUR, says the new White House task force report on campus sexual assault
reflects a presumption of guilt in sexual assault cases that practically obliterates the due process rights of the accused. Students leveling accusations of assault are automatically described as “survivors” or “victims” (not alleged victims or complaining witnesses), implying that their accusations are true….
Thus the task force effectively prohibits cross-examination of complaining witnesses. … But by barring cross-examination, you also protect students who are mistaken or lying, and you victimize (even traumatize) students being falsely accused…. School officials are also encouraged to substitute a “single investigator” model for a hearing process, which seems a prescription for injustice.
More links on the current controversy:
(& welcome Glenn Reynolds/Instapundit readers)
When is it considered a success to generate more complaints against one’s own organization? When you’re a newly assembled Title IX team, in this case installed at the University of North Carolina following pressure from federal regulators and students. [Harry Painter, Pope Center] Our previous coverage of the Department of Education/Department of Justice “blueprint” on campus harassment and sexual misconduct allegations is here.
…by tearing down the newly built seating on the boys’ side, provided by voluntary parent contributions. What’s important is that things be equalized, and someone had filed a Title IX complaint. “The seating was also not handicapped accessible.” [Plymouth, Mich.; MyFoxDetroit]
If Yale is any example, universities are surrendering without much of a fight to the Obama administration’s demands that they not give overmuch due process to students and faculty charged with sexual misconduct. And why does the press persist in treating as perfectly respectable Wendy Murphy, the oft-refuted roving criminal justice commentator and occasional Title IX complainant? [KC Johnson, Minding the Campus, earlier]
Steve Chapman at the Chicago Tribune looks at the cultural and legal responses to the mounting evidence that professional football inflicts brain damage on many of its players. He quotes my view that if the litigation system carries over to football the legal principles it applies to other industries, the game isn’t likely to survive in its current form.
More, Coyote: “And don’t think the NFL does not know this. If you are wondering why they handed out insanely over-the-top penalties for bounty-gate in New Orleans, this is why. They are working to establish a paper trail of extreme diligence on player safety issues for future litigation.” And: Saving Sports (adding Title IX angle).
Lawyers from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), as part of a wider campaign to pursue maximally feminist interpretations of Title IX, successfully litigate to prevent Quinnipiac University from naming competitive cheer as a varsity sport [American Sports Council "Saving Sports"] More: Richard Epstein on Title IX; background.