4 questions men should ask when searching for a college
In recent years, as academics have taken a back seat to social justice, the most pressing questions facing college students have to do less with whether a degree will get you a job, and more to do with whether your feelings will be properly validated.
Enter White House Adviser Valerie Jarrett, who has a bylined article up at Yahoo! Parenting listing questions women should ask when searching for a college to attend. She repeats early on in the article the myth that 1 in 5 women are sexually assaulted while in college (she, of course, doesn't point out that it's a myth), and offers advice to parents of daughters searching for colleges to attend.
Jarrett offers four questions: What sexual assault prevention programs does the college have? What are the Title IX coordinator's responsibilities? How easy is the reporting process for sexual assualt accusers? And what support services are available to those accusers? These are all fine questions for a cautious student who has been bombarded with media reports claiming that there's a "crisis" of sexual assault on college campuses.
But I'm proposing my own short list for men who are preparing to attend college. This would go well with my warning to college men that the universities don't care about them once they're accused of sexual assault. There are many more questions that could and should be asked, but I'm limiting my list to four to pair with Jarrett's.
1. What is the school's definition of sexual harassment and sexual assault?
If you read just one section of your student handbook, read the definitions the school provides for what constitutes sexual misconduct on its campus. Some schools have adopted a "yes means yes" policy, which guarantees a finding of responsibility if an accused student can't prove the crime didn't occur. This particular policy turns the justice system on its head by shifting the burden of proof onto the accused. A judge in Tennessee recently ruled that "Absent the tape recording of a verbal consent or other independent means to demonstrate that consent was given, the ability of an accused to prove the complaining party's consent strains credulity and is illusory."
But don't go videotaping all sexual encounters, especially if the school is in a two-party consent state. If an accuser claims they were too drunk to consent to sex, then it stands to reason that they would claim to be too drunk to consent to a videotape. Perhaps the college would let the tape in to prove the truth, but the truth is less relevant these days on college campuses than is punishing accused students.
Since most college handbooks now define sexual assault broadly to include pretty much everything, one's best bet is to avoid sex in college altogether. Colleges have enacted policies that allow non-students to bring accusations against students, so dating off campus isn't safe either.
There's really nothing that can be done to protect oneself from an accusation in the current climate. Sorry to sound so dire, but when a school puts up posters suggesting that even a sip of alcohol renders a women unable to give consent, things have gotten dire.
2. Who works in the Title IX office and what have they said about sexual assault in the past?
In many situations, the only recourse accused students have is to sue the university after the fact. (Of course, this works only if one can afford a lawyer.) Many claims from accused students that they were discriminated against because of their gender get dismissed. The few that survive have clear evidence of a Title IX coordinator or other allegedly impartial investigator saying something that shows a bias against men.
For example, an expelled student from Washington and Lee University provided evidence that the Title IX officer, Lauren Kozak, had previously given a presentation explaining that if a woman regrets sex it meant the sex was rape.
A Title IX coordinator from the University of Albany, Chantelle Cleary, had her responsibilities reported as "completing reports that help the university make a finding of responsibility." As an impartial investigator, her responsibility is supposed to be to find the truth, not to find against the accused. Cleary never responded to a Washington Examiner request for further explanation about her role as an administrator.
If the Title IX coordinator has been quoted in the media about campus sexual assault, it's a good indication that she and the entire office are less than impartial. Remember, while an accused student is left to fend for himself in a campus hearing, the accuser has an entire administration office reflexively supporting her. The more biased that administration is, the more dangerous the campus is for young men (who are the most likely to be accused).
3. What is the hearing process for adjudicating campus sexual assault?
Most importantly, prospective male students need to be aware of the college or university's adjudication process.
Does the accused have a right to cross-examine? (Most likely not.) Can he have an attorney present? And can that attorney represent him or just sit there like a statue? (Statue, most likely.) Does the school require accused students to be provided with details of the accusation against them in a timely manner? Does the school follow a hearing or single-investigator model? Who are the people who will be investigating and ultimately adjudicating?
What, if any, due process rights do accused students have at the university? Will they be barred from seeing their accuser? Do the sexual misconduct policies refer to accusers as "victims/survivors"? What is the appeals process?
If your school's policy answered "yes" to all the wrong questions above, take extreme caution when interacting with other students.
One needs to be intimately aware of the process so as not to be blindsided if an accusation should come. My best advice is to say nothing and hire a lawyer the instant one is informed of an accusation. But some schools compel accused students to violate their Fifth Amendment rights by threatening to continue with a one-sided "investigation."
4. Is the school currently under investigation by the Education Department for violating Title IX?
If yes, the school will probably be in a campus frenzy and more likely to expel accused students without evidence as an olive branch to the federal government. It happened at Ohio State University, which fired its nationally popular band director in an attempt to appease the Education Department. Many accused students who later sue their university mention protests and campus newspaper articles about sexual assault precipitating their expulsion.
Campus climate and media attention is a major factor in how poorly accused students are treated.
But always remember, in the current hysteria surrounding campus sexual assault, one is guilty until proven innocent (and even then they're still guilty). Again, I apologize if this seems like fearmongering, but college campuses are no longer safe for students accused of sexual assault. Due process rights have gone out the window because, activists tell us, this issue is so important that draconian measures must be taken. Their message is clear: Due process is fine and dandy for criminal courts, but this is a college campus, damn it, due process has no place here for those accused of felonies.