Under Title IX, a woman is entitled to equal access to everything on a college campus. That includes being safe. The most devastating thing is a young girl who reports something and ends up three days later in biology class with the young man still sitting next to her. So we are trying to work on three things: Make it clear that colleges have an obligation to publicly report [cases of violence against women] and to take action against a perpetrator.
Says Joe Biden, veep, in an interview with Glamour—the name means the state of being to which men and women aspire, in, of course, equal numbers.
And this may be true, given Mr Biden’s predilection for hair plugs and teeth whitening. But never mind. What is of real importance is that Biden, and through him our overseers at the Department of Education, are expanding Title IX to areas other than access to sports.
According to Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, Russlynn H. Ali—did you know we had one of these?—the Department “will use all of the tools at our disposal including … withholding federal funds … to ensure that women are free from sexual violence” on campuses (this and all other quotes, except noted otherwise, are from a Chronicle of Higher Education article by “Christina Hoff Sommers“.)
Colleges “that fail to pursue offenders aggressively can be found in violation of Title IX and lose federal government funds.” And by “offenders,” Ali means men accused, but not necessarily convicted of, sexual harassment, etc. Ali would have colleges adjudicate claims against men using “college disciplinary committees.”
Many colleges employ a “beyond a reasonable doubt” or a “clear and convincing” standard. (Roughly speaking, “beyond a reasonable doubt” requires a 98-percent certainty of guilt; clear and convincing, an 80-percent certainty.) Ali, however, orders all colleges to adopt the far-less-demanding standard of “preponderance of the evidence.” Using that standard, a defendant can be found guilty if members of a disciplinary committee believe there is slightly more than a 50/50 chance that he committed the crime.
This is Sommers speaking. I would hate to think that we ever adopt an actual numerical value for the beyond-a-reasonable-doubt criterion, in court or in colleges. If we did, then we would look forward to the farce of lawyers bringing as expert witnesses statisticians who claim to “prove” that the the probability of guilt is only 97.5%, thus the defendant should go free. Meanwhile, the prosecutor’s statistician would argue that the real probability is 98.2%. It would be the sorry spectacle of p-values all over again.
But Sommers is at least right that the (thankfully undefined) probability associated with the beyond-a-reasonable-doubt standard is higher than that associated with the clear-and-convincing standard. And that itself is higher than the probability associated with the preponderance-of-the-evidence standard. Finally, the preponderance-of-the-evidence standard really does imply that the probability of guilt, given whatever evidence exists, must be greater than 50% for a judgment of guilt to be handed out.
Mathematically speaking, this is nearly equivalent to the coin-flip standard. Bring a young man before his inquisitors and flip a coin: if heads, he is booted off campus and handed over to the press; if tails, he is put on probation and a watch list, and made to enroll in Gender Theory 101.
Ali wants these new stringent standards because she claims that “19 percent, or almost one in five women, will be a victim of assault or attempted assault during their college years.” That “19 percent” is a marketing number, the kind that appear in miracle diet pill advertisements. It seems wonderful (to Assistant Secretaries for Civil Rights contemplating job security), but it falls apart under close examination.
Take another look at what constitutes the “19 percent.” It includes not just women assaulted (the rate Sommer’s quotes is 1 in 40), but those who “suffered” an “attempted assault”, which in English means “no assault.” Now, some of these attempted assaults were violent and the women just escaped from actual assaults, but many of these events are wholly subjective and may be nothing more than being the recipient of “elevator eyes.”
Now, you might ask what business does the Department of Education have to do with matters criminal? After all, he folk who populate this beneficent bureaucracy are not hired because of their experience in criminal justice, and whose members wouldn’t know a habeas from a corpus. The answer would seem to be that the DOE has no business whatsoever—which is to say, none—in matters of criminality.
But this is the federal government, that ever-expanding behemoth. It is a place where Assistant Secretaries for Civil Rights can, at will, re-write the entire criminal code to suit her prejudices.