Tilting the Scales on Sexual Violence

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has an unusual student disciplinary system. Although other schools sometimes involve students in disciplinary proceedings, UNC’s Honor Court is entirely student-run and student-led. Students even prosecute students for sexual assault—but that may soon change following the issuance of new federal regulations.

In April 2011, the Obama administration’s Office of Civil Rights (OCR) sent a “Dear Colleague” letter to colleges, universities, and schools across the country to explain newly created federal rules on dealing with sexual violence. A major change was to lower the burden of proof for colleges to punish students for sexual assault, which ranges fromattempted forced kissing up to and including rape.

These new rules were touted as a way of promoting “enhanced equity.” But, in reality, the new rules rather inequitably reduce the protections of those who are accused (mostly males).

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