Baylor University Is a Perfect Example of Why Universities Shouldn't Police Rape

Violating the due process rights of accused students is a recipe for costly court battles down the road.


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The recently released report detailing Baylor University's significant missteps in handling sexual assault cases is an impressive document. It argues persuasively that university administrators ignored the complaints of female students in order to protect Baylor's football team. 

Baylor's Board of Regents has fired Head Football Coach Art Briles and demoted President Ken Starr. (He has now resigned his position as chancellor, and will remain a law professor.) They have implemented a plan to bring the university into full compliance with Title IX—the federal statutes that requires colleges to police sexual harassment and assault"and have apologized to the Baylor community. 

Note that the report is the Regents' summary of the results of an independent investigation conducted by law firm Pepper Hamilton. The lawyers did not prepare their own written report, which led my colleague Anthony Fisher to cry foul: 

Keeping secret the highly relevant names and deeds of those responsible for this situation is bad enough. The fact that this investigation hasn't even yielded a written report works very much in favor of an institution which would like the public to believe that it has found religion (so to speak) and will never stray from the path again. 

There's a whole lot of "transparency and accountability" not being pursued here. 

Baylor's myriad failings are obvious, and it's not at all clear things will get noticeably better for victims of sexual assault at the university, although Title IX is infamous for encouraging universities to over-correct their rape adjudication procedures. 

Slate's Nora Caplan-Bricker thinks the Baylor situation makes a great argument for getting universities even more involved in policing rape. In a provocative piece titled "The Crisis at Baylor Proves Colleges Should Handle Rape Cases, Not Leave Them to the Courts," she writes: 

The courts eventually fulfilled their rolebut if Baylor had listened to the first woman who spoke up, it may have been able to prevent a string of horrendous crimes. 

This is one key reason why schools must be involved in adjudicating sex crimes. It can take years for a criminal case to wind its way through the courts. Schools can move faster to investigate serious charges and remove perpetrators who pose a demonstrated harm to other students. The criminal justice system is also poorly equipped to handle cases of rape and sexual assault: Because so many rapes have no third-party witness, its often difficult to provide evidence "beyond a reasonable doubt." An estimated three in every 100 rapes result in punishment through the criminal system, and many survivors of sexual violence decide they will face less trauma staying silent than seeking justice in court. Victims can receive a fairer hearing under the "preponderance of evidence" standard that schools employ"though it's important to note, as legal experts have argued, that this lower evidentiary standard must be paired with careful investigation and legal representation in order to preserve the rights of both accuser and accused. 

As slow and awful as the criminal justice system isand there's specific evidence the Waco police screwed up here toothere's just no reason to expect poorly-trained university administrators to handle these things better, and lots of reasons to expect them to behave even worse. Baylor is an example of this very phenomenon: The school evidently cared more about its football team than about justice for victims. While it's possible Baylor can be reformed, why on earth would we hold up this modelthe administrative investigation modelas superior to courts? 

Anti-rape activists come across as impatient about the pace of justice, and it's easy to see why. The way the criminal justice system treats rape victims has improved dramatically over time, but it's still far from perfect. Yes, it's a difficult allegation to prove. Yes, it takes a lot of time. But shouldn't advocates work to improve that systemthe one designed to administer justice to violent criminalsrather than investing time and effort in a system doomed to failure? 

The more the activistsincluding those in the federal Office for Civil Rights, which ensures Title IX complianceget their way, the more one-sided these campus rape investigations become. Note that this is by design: These people want it to be easier for colleges to punish accused students. They favor reducing the burden of proof, vesting investigatory powers in a sole (and often biased) administrator, and violating the rules of evidence precisely because these things are an impediment to their preferred outcome. 

But this strategy has consequences of its own, and we are seeing them unfold before our very eyes. Accused students who were disciplined under standards of relaxed fairness are now suing the institutions that deprived them of due process, and they are winning

This puts universities in a difficult position. On one hand, the federal government has threatened them with loss of funding for failing to comply with its strained interpretation of Title IX. On the other hand, lawsuits brought by wrongfully expelled students could cost the institutions a lot of money. But then again, lawsuits brought by students who say their Title IX right to a sexual-harassment-free environment was violated could also cost a lot of money. Still, complying with Title IX is itself quite costly: universities have to hire scores of coordinators and investigators that grow the administration and drain financial resources. For many colleges, sexual assault is a lose/lose/lose/lose issue. 

Ad it's easy to see why: universities are not neutral institutions. They are not impartial. Their incentive is to protect their reputations, not merit out justice to trauma survivors. Trying to change the incentives has caused a number of other disasters, as we have seen. 

It's possible to believe that universities should do more to accommodate students involved in sexual assault disputesprovide them different housing options, for instancewithout accepting the wholesale replacement of the criminal justice system with a frequently inept and unfair jury-by-educrat procedure. University-led adjudication might make life easier for some rape victims in the short term, but the public should want these accusations carefully vetted by trained professionals in the courtsnot because the women are lying, but because we want charges against actual rapists to stick. It's not enough to shuffle them around from campus to campus. 

This is one of those cases where the easy thing isn't the right thing. The long-term public interest is better served by investing actual cops and courts with the power to police rape. If reforms are needed, those reforms should be targeted at the institution that can do the most good, and that institution isn't higher education. 

NEXT: More Americans Enjoy Same-Sex Experiences

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  1. Slate gotta Slate.

    Can someone tell me what Marcotte thinks about all this? I want to know but I don't want to sully up my browser with that trash.

    1. My browser has been sullied enough, so I'll take the hit: Response to Baylor's firing of Art Briles shows that justice finally more important than winning games

      Part of the relatively anti-Briles reaction no doubt has to do with the perception, the college football fan community, that Baylor is a holier-than-thou private institution that sneers at public schools. Jon Johnston, an SB blogger at a University of Nebraska fan blog, writers that Baylor acted like "things like sexual violence don't happen at Baylor because it is a fine private Christian university" and that rape is only a problem "at public universities where sex and drugs flow like milk and honey".

      Needless to say, there's a deep strain of schadenfreude at watching a school that holds itself out as more moral and upstanding that dirty public university.

    2. She don't work there no more. She moved on to the elysian fields of Salon, where the herpin' is high and the derp be jumpin'.

      Or what Caput linked.

    3. That's what Private/Incognito Mode is for. Chrome, Firefox, IE, and Safari all have it.

  2. Title IX?the federal statutes that requires colleges to police sexual harassment and assault

    Might wanna re-word this, cuz Title IX does no such thing.

    1. OK, I see you were a little more careful down below about the Fed's carrot-and-stick approach.

  3. (looks at pic)

    Baylor does at least have some wicked-cool architecture. reminds me of either Hungarian parliament, or something something something in Prague (I was pretty much drunk the entire time i was in prague and everything looked like that)

    1. That style is known as "university gothic". My brother the architect does a lot of work for universities. His sneer at university gothic will leave visible marks.

      I kinda like it, myself.

      1. My university is pseudo-adobe style, all stucco and lumber vigas. I hate it.

      2. Most universities are stuffed with so much garbage "modernism" I shudder to think what your architecture brother does like.

        1. He tends to modernism, but despises brutalism. His buildings have a bit of a midcentury modern flavor to my uneducated eye, but he does wicked cool stuff with modern materials and building techniques. I'm not a big fan of modernism, but I like his stuff.

      3. "university gothic"

        I am most intimately familiar with UVA, Duke and Vanderbilt - my family having some odd preference for Southernish schools with lots of yankee students.

        UVA is entirely variations on its own (*thanks TJ) greekish Rotunda & columns-theme mostly, and Duke and Vandy were actually both designed by the same dude, looking sort of vaguely like medieval castles, only fashioned from different material (brick vs.granite)

        Maybe i'm a sucker for the faux Gothic thing because i never saw much of it. I'm sure many are just boring square buildings tarted up with a few useless 'towers'.

        1. UVA is the tits, as far as I'm concerned, architecturally.

          1. we agree

      4. Mine had both University Gothic AND Modern Brutalist. And a bunch of stuff that looked like it came straight out of Gene Rodenberry's diseased mind.

        In other words, a right dog's dinner, architecturally,

        1. We have a mix of Federalist brick and brutalist wank.

        2. Mine had both University Gothic AND Modern Brutalist.

          I bet your college campus resembled Warsaw.

          The "old" city was basically bombed/shelled to powder by the nazis/soviets, and what the soviets replaced where the gorgeous old gothic stuff had been was some of the most dull 1984-esque concrete depression-inducing things you can imagine. But here and there would be a block that had little bits of Paris sandwiched in.

          the one area still called the "old city" is like 3 blocks that they painted in really garish colors to make it seem fake-happy. the effect is like mixing LSD and Seconal.

          I was there when it was at its worst (early 90s); i hear it has since been entirely redesigned and is tres chic

          1. Nearly. Manchester in the UK. Noted for having a Math Tower designed by the Architectural faculty, that was built with all the windows facing north.

            In truth, the amount of Brutalist shit was minimal, but it was a very stark contrast. Maybe they wanted to have at least a part of the campus in harmony with Hulme and Moss Side, the local 'projects'.

            1. a Math Tower designed by the Architectural faculty, that was built with all the windows facing north.

              I'd hope the math faculty got revenge somehow and designed the Architecture faculty's bathroom

              My first employer hired a lot of Manc U. grads. I always enjoyed the accent, esp while drunk.

              1. Well, in truth, I think the Architects shared floorspace in the same tower, so they kinda shot themselves in the foot. It's been torn down now and replaced with a far more serviceable, and I think, more pleasant building.

                The interesting thing is that at the time, Manc U and UMIST were distinct colleges, and UMIST had a 70's building that had a revolutionary feature - it was designed with a swimming pool on the 8th floor. I don't know who designed it, but someone allegedly did the math and figured out that if they filled the pool, it would pancake the whole building, so they floored over it, so the rumor goes.

                I can never watch "Being John Malkovich" without remembering that (possibly apocryphal, but incredibly truthy) anecdote.

          2. The "brutalist" style had a vogue for government (and university) buildings back in the '70s, because it was specifically designed for crowd/riot control. As well as being overtly and intentionally designed to crush the human spirit.

            Foul stuff. As God-Emperor, I would direct that it all be torn down.

            1. And replaced with eldrich fanes, constructed upon non-Euclidean principles, like all good architcture ...

      5. Better "University Gothic" (which is actually University Neo-Classical or University Neo-Paladian) than "University Modern", which in addition to being hideous also tends to be virtually un-usable.

    2. My alma mater was a mix of uni gothic and Soviet bureaucracy styles.

        1. a panda statue? An *abused* panda-statue?

          school mascot, or department of Panda-Breeding Sciences? or Chongqing State?

          1. Or Faculty of Panda Vivisection ...

          2. Safe space

          3. (though the coffee shop/lounge that was behind the windows on the right side was pretty cool)

  4. First you said universities are doing too much and now they're not doing enough. You libertarians are impossible to please!


    1. Every time I hear "no justice, no peace" I think of that scene in Independence Day where the alien is using the scientist like a puppet.




        I'm losing my mind over here.

        1. Hey, where is STEVE SMITH on this?

          1. In the woods. Waiting.

  6. Despite drop in donations and enrollment, Mizzou finds over $1 million for 'diversity audit'

    The UM System has launched an independent audit of its diversity and inclusion policies that will be completed by the end of the year, according to a news release.

    The audit will cost about $1.1 million, UM System spokesman John Fougere said. The UM System expects to spend $2 million on a series of diversity initiatives created by the UM System Board of Curators last November. Since November, the UM System has hired a chief diversity officer and created a systemwide task force for diversity, equity and inclusion.

    1. When I see this kinda shit, it always reminds me of those communities in the UK that make a case for implementing 'local and voluntarily binding Sharia Courts'.

      When the commission of a crime (whether it's rape, or a false accusation of rape) results in a choice of legal systems, you're gonna have this kind of thing.

      I know that many of these cases are brought long after the alleged rape, but I told my son, as soon as he gets a sniff of an accusation, he has to immediately file a complaint against his accuser with the local cops, and be ready to lawyer up. His college may be subject to Title IX - he isn't. And it doesn't matter what the college may demand of him deferring to 'administrative justice', he's far better off telling them to go fuck themselves than to end up in a kangaroo court,

    2. Like I said in an earlier column, it's even funnier if you understand that the "audit" is not only going to be steeply one-sided, but Mizzou needs it to find a horrible, pervasive culture of racism. They need to declare themselves witches before the BLM twats will be satisfied. Much like bolstering rates of sexual assault to advertise how progressive a university is, Mizzou is going to fly the eventual report like a banner to indicate how desperately unreformed it is. They are paying top dollar for their own fleecing. Hilarious.

  7. Shorter:

    No university should police rape because universities are not law enforcement agencies.

  8. Why is it that it's the Baylor story and not the BYU story that's blowing up? Is it really just because of football?

    1. Because the Mormons are being assholes about sex in general, something expected from them. Covering up rape is a just a bonus.

    2. I don't think BYU actively prevented the rape investigation from happening. They're "just" busy making life miserable for the girl. If I was on the Provo PD, I'd probably call the honor code office and offer to arrest all of them for obstruction and witness tampering if they don't back off.

  9. Its funny how a textbook case of a university, not just fucking up, but obstructing a rape investigation, becomes a reason for universities to do more rape investigations.

    1. It's just like any failure of government is a reason for more government.

    2. If you can manage to get through it, the Slate argument for just that is truly incoherent.

      1. Why would I want to read a documentary on Maoist self-flagellation?

        What American academia needs is more of the Khmer-Rouge, and less of the People's Liberation Party.

      2. Ugh.

        One of the most important services schools can provide to victims isn't dependent on a finding of guilt. The principle undergirding Title IX is that sex discrimination should not deprive anyone of educational opportunities. Schools can provide things that police and courts can't, such as a mental health counselor or a new dormitory assignment across campus from an assailant.

        Listen, you stupid, vacuous fucking bint.Some of the other things schools can provide inuclude are fucking kangaroo courts, no due process and the risk of a truly YUGE civil case. Line your dormitary assignments and counsellors up to stand ready to relocate some lying shitbag bitch as soon as she makes her complaint. SIMULTANEOUSLY, call the cops and initiate a criminal prosecution against the accused.

        It's fucking scary that being delivered on a platter for the cops and the risk of arrest and assault is the best answer I have to campus rape.

        But it is.

        Although I have hopes of some truly YUGE civil cases forthcoming. As the father of an almost college aged sone, I think I would bankrupt myself, and then some, to punish a college for this behavior.

        1. OK, I just popped a couple of nitroglycerine. I'll be OK now.

        2. If I was king for the day I would attempt to solve this problem by banning all forms of alcohol or drugs on any campus building (stadiums, dorm, horse stable).

          All cases of sexual assault or rape would either require police investigation (due to my assumption of a violent attack) or be an unfortunate consequence of poor judgement while knowingly violating a campus rule. Feel free to pursue your case with the police.

          I don't think this would solve rape, but the ball would be back in the court of individual responsibility. Note: my premise is that impaired judgement + feels leads to most of these problems.

        3. One of the most important services schools can provide to victims isn't dependent on a finding of guilt.

          IOW, schools should provide "victim services" without any regard to whether the recipient is actually a victim.

          1. Attending such schools pretty much ensures you're a victim of *something*, even if it's only fraud.

  10. But if we can just save one victim of a preferred group by creating many other victims of a less preferred group, then it will all be worth it.

  11. I'm going to withhold judgement, mostly because the villains are a little too convenient considering who their detractors are.

  12. RE: Baylor University Is a Perfect Example of Why Universities Shouldn't Police Rape
    Violating the due process rights of accused students is a recipe for costly court battles down the road.

    Oh please!
    Violating the due process rights of accused students is what universities do best, especially at "religious" colleges.
    Why would anyone want to ruin this find tradition in Amerikan universities now?

  13. OK wow that makes a whole lot of sense dude.

  14. The solution is simple. Anyone arrested for a felony is suspended. If convicted they are expelled. Done.

  15. I am 50 years old. The term football player rapist was around when I was in high school. It is crazy what women will do to hang around with the cool kids. Then when they are pumped and dumped they are confused and hurt. Then they say rape. Some of those football player rapist guys that do it don't even know it is rape because they are numb skulls and women are lined up for them. If you have been raped go to the police, but not the local police. Call a fed, FBI and make it stick.

  16. "The courts eventually fulfilled their role?but if Baylor had listened to the first woman who spoke up, it may have been able to prevent a string of horrendous crimes. "

    the university of findlay handled the investigation in a manner that they saw fit and it seems that the innocent were found guilty in less than 24 hours and "expelled".....notice " criminal charges have yet to be filed in that case but they still are expelled.

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  18. Don't send your kids to college. Problem solved.

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