Bernie Sanders

Bernie Sanders Says Police, Not Colleges, Should Handle Rape

'Has got to be understood as a very serious crime.'


Sen. Bernie Sanders said Monday that campus rape disputes should always be handled by the police, rather than university administrators, departing from conventional left-feminist thinking on student-on-student violence.

According to The Hill, Sanders maintained—somewhat dubiously—that campus rape was an "epidemic," but not one the universities themselves had any business trying to resolve:

"Rape and assault is rape or assault whether it takes place on a campus or a dark street," he said Monday at the Black and Brown Presidential Forum in Iowa.  

"If a student rapes another student it has got to be understood as a very serious crime, it has to get outside of the school and have a police investigation and that has to take place."

Sanders' comments on this subject might seem uncontroversial, but in fact, he is very much going against the grain of current liberal thinking. Left-leaning anti-violence activists tend to oppose measures that would obligate survivors of sexual assault to bring their claims to law enforcement because they fear that this will discourage victims from reporting at all. They say that accusers should be able to choose whether they want to go to the police or whether they want to go through the campus process. Hillary Clinton's plan to address student rape, for instance, presumes that on-campus adjudication is an equally valid method of handling disputes.

The problem with on-campus adjudication, of course, is that university administrators lack training in the rules of evidence and due process, and often do a terrible job safeguarding the rights of the accused and the rights of accusers. The defenders of this option evidently believe two things: 1) it can be reformed so that all accusers are treated well (they generally don't care about the accused), and 2) students deserve a special, quasi-legal arrangement where their claims are evaluated under a lower burden of proof than the claims of regular people who have to go through the criminal justice system. Good for Sanders for denouncing such an arrangement.