Wednesday, April 8, 2015

University of Illinois to do away with pesky hearings to find men guilty of sexual assault

The University of Illinois is taking college sex hearings to the next level in order to protect rape victims. The school is "moving toward an investigation process that may not require a hearing so an assault victim doesn't have to testify in front of a large committee."

Finally! A school with the courage to cut through the bullshit! This ingenious plan will spare rape victims the indignity of having impartial adjudicators consider their accusations with an open mind. It will also spare schools the bother of introducing evidence to actually prove the young rapists are guilty. And it will spare the young rapists the bother of putting on a defense to avoid a life-altering expulsion.

I know what some of you are thinking: what about "due process"? Sigh. Where do I even begin with that?  See, "due process" -- that is, fair procedures to adjudicate guilt or innocence -- is a quaint concept, but it's wholly misplaced when talking about college men accused of sexual assault. In fact, even talking about due process in that context is victim blaming. A former Columbia student newspaper editor said his paper didn't cover the alleged rape of mattress-toting Emma Sulkowicz impartially, critically, or thoroughly because if he had written that "due process [for the accused] should be respected," he would have been "excoriated" and charged with "harming survivors and the fight against sexual assault." And rightly so.

The fact is, forward-looking thinkers share the feelings of the University of Wisconsin student who recently said she was "horrified" to discover that her accused rapist had "due process" rights--especially the right to a hearing and written notice of the victim's allegations, and the right to remain silent. Remember the wise counsel of Elisabeth Dee, Stanford class of '16? Ms. Dee correctly said that her school should not be focusing on "defending the perpetrator, because essentially burden of proof is a defense of the perpetrator.” Students at the University of Ohio recently summed it up: due process for men accused of sex offenses is "bullshit." When it comes to college sex accusations, we must all think like the feminists: "We must believe survivors. We must trust their stories."

Besides, the University's decision to spare rape victims the humiliation of telling their stories to people with an open mind is hardly revolutionary--in fact, this process has been tried many times and with great success. In the Old South, the motivating impulse of the lynch mob was that the rape of white women by black men or boys was an offense so heinous, it demanded “instant and severe punishment” without waiting for creaking, wheezing due process. I know what some of you are thinking: weren't innocent men and boys lynched? As one writer explained, “their guilt was clear in every instance.” How the writer knows that is none of our business. You see, the criminal justice system was “incapable” of meting out the punishment that was needed--a punishment that spared the victims of “negro” atrocities the humiliation of testifying in courts. It worked in the Old South, it will work on college campuses across America!

But, wait, as it turns out, the University of Illinois really isn't doing away with due process after all. Dean of Students Kenneth Ballom said that "a panel will still determine the sanction, with procedures to protect due process for the accused."

Does that make you feel any better? After the young men are declared guilty by the university's investigator--using a procedure that is none of our business--the young rapists will get all the due process they deserve. The school will have a hearing to determine whether they're expelled or simply suspended for a few years. Satisfied?

What's really frightening is that I suspect some college students will read this and not recognize it for sarcasm because they see so many anti-due process pieces like it. That's how bad it is.