Campus Date Rape and Due Process

A previous post here defended having university authorities investigate accusations of on-campus date rape and impose university discipline, whether or not the complainant chooses to pursue criminal charges, and imposing discipline on something short of proof beyond reasonable doubt.

That still seems right to me. But Nancy Gertner’s careful analysis of Harvard’s new policy shows clearly that complaints about procedural unfairness toward the accused in such cases are sometimes very well founded. The accused has one week to respond, no right to call witnesses or cross-examine, and only a limited right to legal representation, while the accuser has unlimited time and assistance, and the university officials in charge of enforcing rules against gender discrimination act as investigator, judge, and jury, whose findings of fact are unreviewable. Can you say “kangaroo court”?

Gertner also shows that Oberlin’s policy does the same job much better.

Putting the adjudication of such charges, and the review of the performance of the campus officials who manage the process, in the hands of on-campus  Title IX compliance officers and Title IX administrators at the Department of Education is a recipe for disaster.

[Cross-posted at The Reality-Based Community]

Mark Kleiman

Mark Kleiman is a professor of public policy at the New York University Marron Institute.