Good news for college men. You’re again welcome on campus. On Friday, Sept. 22, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos ripped up the Obama administration’s one-sided rules on how colleges and universities handle accusations of sexual assault and misconduct. The rules, imposed in 2011, were so stacked against the accused — usually young men — that in dozens of cases, innocent male students were branded as rapists, kicked out of school and robbed of future job opportunities.
Those with sufficient money and fortitude managed to get their names cleared in real courts of law — where rules of evidence, due process and reasonable standards of proof apply. Last month, a California judge threw out a rape case against a 20-year-old University of Southern California student when video tapes showed sex with a female student was consensual. But he still faces possible expulsion, because USC’s Obama-era policies tilt the scales against him — despite the vivid evidence of consent. That’s the difference between American justice, where the accused have rights, and Obama’s campus sex courts, where only accusers are believed.
Advocates for the Obama rules defend them as “survivor-centered.” That means they’re biased against the accused, and bias has no place in a court. The Obama rules have been criticized by the American Bar Association, the American College of Trial Lawyers and Harvard Law School faculty — hardly right-wingers.
DeVos promises new rules in the coming months. Vowing no tolerance for sexual assault, she said, “Schools must continue to confront those horrific crimes and behaviors head-on.” But “the process also must be fair and impartial.”
Fair? Don’t hold your breath. Campuses are so dominated by anti-male ideology that it’s unlikely men there will be given a fair shake. The parade of lives ruined by campus sex tribunals proves college administrators are eager to deny male students the right to have a lawyer, know the charges, gather evidence, cross-examine witnesses or even be presumed innocent until proven guilty. That’s not going to change overnight.
Instead of improving “campus justice” — an oxymoron — DeVos should require that schools bring in police capable of collecting forensic evidence and dealing with sex charges, and defer to real courts whenever a student is accused of sexual assault or rape. Colleges need to get out of the business of sex trials and instead focus on opening students’ eyes to the downsides of sexual promiscuity — especially fueled by binge-drinking.
Right now, many colleges foster an atmosphere of free-wheeling hedonism. At Harvard, that includes running naked laps around the Yard to bring out students’ “animalistic roots.” At nearly all colleges, dorms and bathrooms are coed. Schools like Yale, Amherst and Princeton kick it up a notch, offering coed bedrooms.
Colleges are creating conditions that pressure sexually inexperienced students to hook up, often after drinking. That leads to mixed signals, false expectations and regrets. Casual sex can be emotionally bruising.
No wonder some women who engage in consensual sex claim afterward that they hadn’t agreed. Feminists are actually redefining sex with regrets as rape. That labels the young man as a rapist.
A video for incoming Brown University students teaches that “consent is knowing that my partner wants me just as much as I want them.” Good luck. Even sexually experienced adults can’t always tell.
Every college requires incoming students to hear lectures on consent — ask before kissing, ask before touching, ask again and again. Few warn about the physical dangers and psychological pressures — despite evidence that students who engage in repeated hookups suffer.
Colleges are being hypocritical. They foster a sexual hothouse environment and then pin the blame on young men when things go wrong. DeVos should put an end to college sex courts and require equal treatment for young men and young women.
Betsy McCaughey is a senior fellow at the London Center for Policy Research and a former lieutenant governor of New York State. Contact her at [email protected] To find out more about Betsy McCaughey and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.