Title IX

The Dumb Liberal Opposition to Betsy DeVos' Campus Sexual Assault Rules

The Obama-era rules had a disparate impact on minority men


Education Secretary Betsy DeVos' proposed revamp of Obama's Title IX campus sexual assault rules has liberal feminists up in arms. But that's because

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they are putting their feminism ahead of their liberalism. If they weren't, they'd realize that these rules made a mockery of elementary due process rights of the accused. And when liberal protections are ditched, the biggest losers are minorities, in this case minority men who are being disproportionately targeted. As Emily Yoffe argued in The Atlantic:

[A]s the definition of sexual assault used by colleges has become broader and blurrier, it certainly seems possible that unconscious biases might tip some women toward viewing a regretted encounter with a man of a different race as an assault. And as the standards for proving assault have been lowered, it seems likely that those same biases, coupled with the lack of resources common among minority students on campus, might systematically disadvantage men of color in adjudication, whether or not the encounter was interracial…

In a 2015 Harvard Law Review article, "Trading the Megaphone for the Gavel in Title IX Enforcement," she [Janet Halley] writes, "American racial history is laced with vendetta-like scandals in which black men are accused of sexually assaulting white women," followed eventually by the revelation "that the accused men were not wrongdoers at all." She writes that "morning-after remorse can make sex that seemed like a good idea at the time look really alarming in retrospect; and the general social disadvantage that black men continue to carry in our culture can make it easier for everyone in the adjudicative process to put the blame on them." She has observed the phenomenon at her own university: "Case after Harvard case that has come to my attention, including several in which I have played some advocacy or adjudication role, has involved black male respondents."

Another Ivy League law professor who has been involved in sexual-assault policy said to me of the issue of race, "Nobody wants to talk about it." He said students are pushing their boundaries and that many hook up with a partner of a different ethnicity for the first time. But then, "if there is any kind of perceived injury—emotional or physical—when you cross racial lines, there's likely to be more animus. It needs to be talked about and hasn't been."

DeVos' reforms would address such disparate impact by giving the schools the option of embracing higher evidentiary standards, requiring them to offer the accused an opportunity for appeal and cross examination etc.

The reforms, I note in my column at The Week, are not perfect, but they are on the right track. And if liberals could look past the flawed leader she represents, they'd see that (actually, maybe they won't given that no amount of intersectionality can ultimately overcome identity politics that derives an agenda not from broad universal principles but tribal affiliations).

Go here to read the piece.