Wednesday, December 5, 2012

News from campuses across America

The Red and Black, the student newspaper of the University of Georgia, quotes Bill Crane, Phi Kappa Tau’s chapter adviser, who said that in his experience as a fraternity adviser at the University and other campuses, “the male student, the aggressor in terms of the allegation, is suspended or expelled often times without due process.”

Over at Stanford, which has a dismal track record for upholding the due process rights of men accused of sex offenses in recent years, a purported rape victim was quoted in the student newspaper as saying the following: “When they changed to preponderance of evidence, I just remember weeping… I was so happy. It’s pretty much just a survivor and one witness [to convict].”   The article does not indicate that the newspaper made any attempt to get the accused's side of the story--he's obviously guilty because she said she didn't consent.

Over at the Daily Iowan, an article explaining the new "preponderance of the evidence" standard states that it "would make it easier to charge respondents in Title IX cases." The article fails to mention that the new law doesn't discriminate -- it makes it easier to charge not just rapists but also the innocent. The latter is the problem.

Finally, a letter in the Brown student newspaper -- the comments after the letter (not reprinted here) are telling --

To the Editor:

Many universities these days are demanding a second look at management of sexual misconduct and sexual assault cases, including Brown. As Senior Associate Dean for Student Life Jonah Ward points out in his letter (“Sexual violence victims receive U. support,” Nov. 30), Brown itself has taken many steps in “providing a robust array of services for the immediate and long-term needs of students who report victimization.” This is an incredibly important pursuit, and I do not wish to diminish its value.

However, there is another side to this story. Although many of these reports are true and should be handled as such, this is not always the case. This letter is to make people aware of the exception to the rule.

This is a personal story I write as I will likely soon be expelled from Brown University. The basis of my expulsion is false allegations. Until recently, I pledged a co-ed fraternity here. One or two members of this fraternity spearheaded a “witch hunt” against me for reasons that I still don’t fully understand. The stories against me snowballed into exaggerated rumors about me last year that I’m sure many in my class heard. Some of these were proven to be completely unfounded and incorrect, but two members of the fraternity were incited to go to the University with their allegations.

Although several other students and I knew these allegations were false, the fervor and drive behind them led to a “preponderance of evidence” against me. This is a common and poorly-defined term far less than the evidence “beyond a reasonable doubt” needed in criminal cases. The testimony against me was seen as sufficient by the University to merit my expulsion. And because I have no substantial evidence other than my word that these allegations are false, I had little to use to show my innocence.

My career at Brown has been destroyed by these false accusations. I make no claim that my suffering holds a candle to the suffering of victims of sexual misconduct, but it is essential that more protection be given to those accused in university disciplinary systems. As it stands now, simply making false allegations against other students can ruin them, and people should be aware of this disastrous circumstance.

Jacy ’15