Finally, Education Secretary Betsy Devos is rolling back Obama-era Title IX guidelines. They gutted constitutional Due Process rights for the accused, reduced the standard of evidence, hampered cross-examination, and lowered the standards of what constitutes sexual assault, leaving students powerless to defend themselves in sham courts.
These policies had devastating effects on one group in particular– young black men. This group was habitually and erroneously stereotyped as the aggressor. Combined with overpowered kangaroo courts, these measures led to a disproportionate amount of sexual misconduct cases involving black students— sheer injustice.
An expert in this field, Emily Yoffe for The Atlantic, says simply that, “[While] Black men make up only about 6 percent of college undergraduates[, t]hey are vastly overrepresented in the cases.” She referenced stats from Colgate College where only 4.2% of Colgate’s students were Black, but made up 50% of the reported sexual violations in the 2013-14 academic year.
If you need some examples of young Black men being falsely accused, I wrote an article for The College Fix detailing 11 cases. These young men were stereotyped and maligned before administrators kicked them off, sometimes within days. Whatever the reason for the false accusation, it’s wrong, and these young men suffered from their lack of rights.
Instead, they were publicly shamed as a rapist like Alphonso Baity and Justin Browning of the University of Findlay; they lost their future football careers like A.J. Johnson and Michael Williams of the University of Tennessee; they jumped in front of a car to attempt suicide after an allegation ruined their life— just to have their school threaten them with vandalism for damaging the car, like an unnamed Brown student.
A step forward
Thankfully, Betsy DeVos’s new proposals will restore Due Process rights to accused students and limit the power of the authoritative kangaroo courts on college campuses. For one, they will mandate cross-examination, which Obama-era guidelines discouraged. Additionally, the new guidelines will define sexual misconduct more narrowly.
Think this is bad at first glance? Consider this: an autistic Black kid on my list above got two Title IX violations for touching a girl’s shoulder while taking a selfie with her. Under the new guidelines, the sexual misconduct has to be severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive to be a Title IX offense.
The new guidelines will also let colleges set their own standards of required evidence. Colleges can either choose a “more likely than not” or a “beyond reasonable doubt” standard. However, if the colleges use a “more likely than not” standard for students, they also have to use it regarding faculty. So, hopefully, this will entice colleges to use the higher standard of evidence choice.
These changes will strengthen the rights of the accused and ensure due process in cases going forward. We will never be able to right the wrongs that happened under the previous administration’s policies, but this is an appropriate step in hindering the same type of injustices in the future.
The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Lone Conservative staff.