By Rob Shimshock, DCNF
Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos received criticism for her speech Thursday in which she stressed due process rights of accused students, but several high-profile sexual misconduct cases vindicate her message.
DeVos said “the rights of one person can never be paramount to the rights of another,” suggesting that adjudication of recent sexual misconduct cases represented miscarriages of justice. Situations involving alleged sexual misconduct at a plethora of colleges bolster her case.
“Schools are overcorrecting,” said an anonymous University of California, San Diego (UCSD) student to NPR. “People like me are always getting hurt.”
UCSD suspended the student in spring 2015 following an accusation of sexual assault. The student alleges that the school would not let him show as evidence text messages suggesting that he and the alleged victim were on good terms following the alleged assault, nor would UCSD permit him to challenge the investigator or cross-examine the woman who accused him. He sued the school and won.
In another instance, the Department of Education found in October 2016 that Wesley College violated both Title IX and the college’s own sexual assault policies with regard to handling sexual misconduct charges, according to Inside Higher Ed. The college expelled four male students it believed orchestrated a video stream of a sexual encounter between one of the students and a female student without the latter student’s knowledge or permission.
The male student who had sex with the female in the video claimed he was innocent, and the female student and the other three male students corroborated his claim. The college told that male student that he would have to appeal the decision, but rejected his appeal upon its submission. The Department of Education found that Wesley College did not interview the four accused students, nor did it give them an incident report or information pertaining to the college’s investigation.
Title IX outlaws discrimination on the basis of sex in federally-funded schools. It also enables schools to assume the role of adjudicators in sexual misconduct cases on their campuses.
Similarly, a U.S. District Court judge ruled in December 2016 that James Madison University did not provide due process to a student suspended for alleged sexual misconduct by blocking him from corresponding with witnesses, not giving him ample opportunity to account for evidence, and prohibiting him from coming to an appeal board meeting, reported Daily News-Record.
Thomas Klocke, a male student accused of sexual misconduct at the University of Texas at Arlington, committed suicide in June 2016 after UT Arlington banned him from a class and put him on disciplinary probation, which someone told Klocke could affect his chances being accepted into graduate school.
Klocke’s father sued UT Arlington in April 2017, alleging that Nicholas Matthew Watson, Klocke’s accuser, violated the school’s policies by bringing his complaint to the school’s associate vice president of student affairs, who Watson apparently knew, instead of UT Arlington’s Title IX coordinator or deputy coordinators. The father alleges that Watson fabricated his charge after he, himself, made unwanted and rebuffed sexual advances on the younger Klocke.
Critiques of DeVos would do well to consider these cases and those referenced by DeVos in her speech before relentlessly bashing her on Twitter.
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