My friend Sophia hates that I support Donald Trump and is forever asking me how I can be a feminist and advocate for a man who talked about “grabbing women by the p — .”
I don’t like to get into it with her because a) it never ends well, and the last time I did we ended up not talking for a long time, and b) she is a survivor of abuse and it seems emotionally wrong to debate someone who has been repeatedly traumatized over the subject you’re discussing.
But last night she tagged me on Facebook in a post hashtagged #StopBetsy. Apparently Department of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is reexamining Title IX enforcement on college campuses, a decision that even the leftist New York Times endorses, mainly because of how easy it is now to mark an accused perpetrator as guilty.
In a July 21, 2017 article titled “Betsy DeVos Is Right: Sexual Assault Policy Is Broken,” Cathy Young notes that under the current standard, based on a so-called “Dear Colleague” letter from the Department of Education, Office of Civil rights, only a “preponderance of the evidence” standard is recommended before an accused is declared guilty.
“This means that if the school believes it is even slightly more likely — as in, a 50.1 percent chance — that an assault accusation is true, it can deem the defendant guilty. This is a far lower threshold than the ‘clear and convincing evidence’ standard previously used by many schools, let alone the ‘beyond a reasonable doubt” standard used in the criminal justice system.”
“…required universities to allow accusers to appeal not-guilty findings, a form of double jeopardy. It further told schools to accelerate their adjudications, with a recommended 60-day limit. And, perhaps most important, OCR strongly discouraged cross-examination of accusers, given the procedures that most universities employed.”
Of course, schools want their federal aid money, and when the Department of Education speaks, they listen, notes Young:
“This new standard can create a powerful bias against the accused, especially when coupled with the Obama administration’s threat to yank federal aid from colleges that do not move aggressively against sexual assault.”
My friend is much more of an activist than I am, and I trust her integrity quite a lot. But I didn’t understand what the hashtag campaign was all about.
So I asked her: If DeVos is only saying she will look into this issue, what is it exactly that you are protesting?
And the response was predictable — lots of emotion, lots of anger. Not a lot of fact.
“If we’re going to have sensitivity training for the insensitive, will we also have de-sensitivity training for the overly triggered?”
But we can’t make justice through feelings. We have to make justice through the objective application of law. Fairly. To both sides. No matter how much we hate it. That is my point.
Regarding Title IX, in my opinion, the schools should not be trying these cases at all. The police and the courts should handle all of it. The concept of keeping federally funded campuses free of sexual harassment and assault does not require all this extra bureaucracy. In fact it just makes things worse.
The police should be working with the schools and the hospitals to improve evidence collection and make it automatic. You prosecute rapists with data.
The schools should be keeping alcohol and drugs (and substance abusers) out. Partying intoxicated and rape go hand in hand.
Schools can also partner with local high schools and elementary schools to teach relationship skills. Many people grow up in abusive homes. They can be normed out of it.
Additionally the schools can use the dorms to teach sustainable human behavior. How to grow things. How to repair things. How to make decisions about common property.
I don’t disagree that society lets rapists off. I do think women and men are equally aggressive. And that we can be more creative about redirecting human energy toward positive ends._____
Clipart image by OpenClipArt-Vectors via Pixabay (Public Domain). All opinions are my own. This post is hereby released into the public domain. Updated January 8, 2017.