Shortly before Congress fled Washington for the August recess, a bipartisan group of senators introduced legislation that would establish nationwide standards for how colleges and universities should handle campus sexual assault cases.
The bill’s purpose is laudable. No one should endure sexual assault in order to receive an education. But the bill neglects an important other side of this issue — that schools are woefully unprepared to function as courts.
The Campus Accountability and Safety Act, or CASA, continues the inexorable federalization of campus sexual assault cases. The federal government is proposing to tell every college that receives federal funding — which is almost all of them — how it should handle reports of sexual assault on campus. If colleges don’t do what the government wants, they stand to lose enormous amounts of money.
CASA would require colleges to designate and train “confidential advisers” to guide sexual assault victims through the reporting and disciplinary process. There’s no similar requirement to guide those accused of sexual assault through the process. Protecting those who are accused doesn’t make for an exciting press release.
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