Tag Archives: OCR

Christina Hoff Sommers takes on sexual harassment hysteria on campus

Christina Hoff Sommers
Christina Hoff Sommers

Christina Hoff Sommers writes about feminism gone wild in the Chronicle of Higher Education.

Excerpt:

American courts take exacting precautions to avoid convicting an innocent person of a crime. It was therefore startling to read the April 4, 2011, directive on sexual violence sent by the U.S. Department of Education’s assistant secretary for civil rights, Russlynn H. Ali, to college officials across the country. In an effort to make campuses safe and equitable for women, Ali, with the full support of her department, advocates procedures that are unjust to men.

[…]Marching under the banner of Title IX and freed of high standards of proof, campus disciplinary committees, once relatively weak and feckless, will be transformed into powerful instruments of gender justice. At least, that is the fantasy. But here is the reality: Campus disciplinary committees—often a casual mix of professors, students, and an assistant dean or two—are well suited to resolving cases involving purported plagiarism and cheating, and violations of college rules on drugs and alcohol. But no one considers them prepared to adjudicate murder, arson, or kidnapping cases, or criminal assault. They lack the training and the resources to investigate and adjudicate felonies. So why are they expected to determine guilt or innocence in cases of rape?

As with murder and arson, serious charges of sexual assault should be left to the police and the courts. The Department of Education should not pressure universities to enact a system whereby a student can be found guilty of a major crime by a mere preponderance of evidence.

[…]Being a victim of rape is uniquely horrific, but being accused of rape is not far behind. If the person is guilty, then the suffering is deserved. But what if he is innocent? To be found guilty of rape by a campus tribunal can mean both expulsion and a career-destroying black mark on your permanent record. Such occurrences could become routine under the Ali dispensation.

So why is Ali taking such draconian measures? Because she asserts that rape on campuses has reached epidemic levels, citing a study that states that 19 percent, or almost one in five women, will be a victim of assault or attempted assault during their college years.

But is that figure accurate or even plausible? Research on sexual assault is notoriously hard to conduct, and the studies are wildly inconsistent. A 2003 Bureau of Justice Statistics special report, “Violent Victimization of College Students, 1995-2002,” found that among the nation’s nearly four million female college students, there were six rapes or sexual assaults per thousand per year during the years surveyed. That comes to one victim in 40 students during four years of college—too many, of course, but vastly fewer than Ali’s one in five.

The study cited by Ali used an online survey, conducted under a grant from the Justice Department, in which college women were asked about their sexual experiences, on campus and off, and the researchers—not the women themselves—decided whether they had been assaulted. The researchers employed an expansive definition of sexual assault that included “forced kissing” and even “attempted” forced kissing. The survey also asked subjects if they had sexual contact with someone when they were unable to give consent because they were drunk. A “yes” answer was automatically counted as a rape or assault. According to the authors, “an intoxicated person cannot legally consent to sexual contact.”

Surely, reasonable people can disagree on that: If sexual intimacy under the influence of alcohol is by definition assault, then a significant percentage of sexual intercourse throughout the world and down the ages qualifies as crime.

The Justice Department stamped a disclaimer on every page of the survey report, advising that it is not a publication of the Justice Department and does not necessarily reflect its positions or policies. Ali, however, treats it as an official government finding and ignores the controversies and ambiguities surrounding her “one in five” figure.

I’m a huge fan of Christina Hoff Sommers. I really recommend her book “The War Against Boys”. Must-reading for any parent. The article notes in the author bio that she is working on an updated version of that book, and you can bet this topic will be covered.

Obama administration paves way for false sexual harassment charges

Famous conservative professor Mike Adams explains the problem at Townhall.

Excerpt:

[T]he Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) has announced new guidelines that will force due process to take a back seat to political correctness. These guidelines will apply to sexual harassment and felony sexual assault cases.

[…]According to the new OCR guidelines, any college that accepts federal funding or federal student loans (close to 100% of our nation’s colleges) must now employ a “preponderance of the evidence” standard of proof in sexual harassment and sexual assault cases. This lowered standard replaces the traditionally accepted standard of proof beyond a reasonable doubt, which, according to most triers of fact, is close to 100% confidence of guilt. In contrast, “preponderance of evidence” means the campus judiciary only needs to be 50.01% confident that a person is guilty of a given offense – even if that offense is rape, which, regardless of degree, is always a serious felony.

This mandate from the federal government will have profound real-life costs for real students. If we learned anything from the infamous Duke Lacrosse case it is this: Academia is quick to blame people for creating a “rape culture” on campus and slow to take responsibility for false accusations.

Unfortunately, Duke was not an isolated case. At Stanford, student jurors in sexual misconduct cases are actually given “training materials” that say things like, “Everyone should be very, very cautious in accepting a man’s claim that he has been wrongly accused of abuse or violence” and “An abuser almost never ‘seems like the type.'”

In other words, even highly respected universities like Stanford try to create unfair and partial juries prior to rape adjudications – in clear violation of the spirit of the 6th Amendment (Do you remember when liberals cared about the “spirit of the law”?). Adding a mere “preponderance” standard to such a toxic environment would be a recipe for disaster – disaster in the form of wrongful felony convictions.

The OCR mandates are not merely confined to actions. They apply to students’ speech, too. Columbia University already lists “love letters” as a form of sexual harassment. The University of California, Santa Cruz, classifies using “terms of endearment” as sexual harassment. (Who could have ever imagined that one could be endeared and harassed at the same time?). At Yale, “unspoken sexual innuendo such as voice inflection” is considered sexual harassment. The absurdities are seemingly endless in 21st Century “hire” education.

Studies have shown that the number of false rape accusations is near 50%.

Here’s a Fox News article from a prominent equity feminist, Wendy McElroy.

Excerpt:

“Forty-one percent of all reports are false.”

This claim comes from a study conducted by Eugene J. Kanin of Purdue University. Kanin examined 109 rape complaints registered in a Midwestern city from 1978 to 1987.

Of these, 45 were ultimately classified by the police as “false.” Also based on police records, Kanin determined that 50 percent of the rapes reported at two major universities were “false.”

Although Kanin offers solid research, I would need to see more studies with different populations before accepting the figure of 50 percent as prevalent; to me, the figure seems high.

But even a skeptic like me must credit a DNA exclusion rate of 20 percent that remained constant over several years when conducted by FBI labs. This is especially true when 20 percent more were found to be questionable.

False accusations are not rare. They are common.

If you would like to get an idea of how false rape accusations are handled by the police, here is an example. Here’s a very recent example.

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