So there’s a lot here. And like I said in response to Samantha, it’s super complicated and not just as easy as saying “we can’t ever blame the victim”.
Before I say anything, I’ll take Danielle A. St. Hilaire, a prof of mine, who literally posted about doing her Title IX training today (by sheer coincidence…. not in response to yesterday). She likely understands nuances better than I do and if she has time, may correct stuff. And I’m sure Nicole is still paying attention too because she already commented.
So anyway, Yes… I agree with you. Constitutional protection of the rights of the accused is of tantamount importance. And as I said to Sam, I don’t think that the justice system necessarily even should consider the victim as anything more than a witness, so (perhaps sadly) the accused has to be the focus. But Title IX doesn’t change the justice system or the burden of proof in a criminal case. Which you sort of pointed out when you said “universities aren’t the government”
Because that part is important. My understanding of the regulations is that they require (actually, I don’t even think they require… I think they mostly “encourage”) that the university “take the allegations seriously.” They DO NOT preclude police involvement. If a student is raped, s/he may just call 911 and avoid the university entirely. If a student comes to the university then the university can still just call 911 for her or it can investigate.
And this is true of ANY crime, really. If a student walks into my classroom and say “OH MY GOD! There’s been a murder right outside! There’s a dead body on the ground. What should we do?” I have a choice. I can pull out my cell phone and call the cops. Or I can say “Holy shit?!?! Really?!?!? Where?!?!? Show me!!!” and go outside and say “yep, that’s a murder alright. Let’s call the cops!” What I CAN’T do is tell the reporting student “Well, I mean, murders are complicated. Do we really want to go through the trouble of reporting a murder? They’re going to ask you a lot of questions as a witness and wouldn’t you just rather put this all behind you? And think about the murderer. He’s going to lose his athletic scholarship. And really, how is that going to bring the victim back? Is any of this really worth the disruption? Haven’t we all just suffered enough?”. And then bury the body in garden and not report it at all because I don’t want the college to have a rep as “the murder school.” Because in the case of rape, and sexual assault it turns out that this was happening a LOT.
It would be great to say the school should never be involved at all — that it should always just be a pass through to the “real authorities” to handle the situation. But for a variety of reasons (some good and honestly, some that really aren’t good at all, but still are there) this just isn’t true or practical. The school is going to be involved and therefore regulations need to be there. For one, students have a weird relationship with their school. It’s not quite professional. It’s not quite personal. It’s not quite parental. If a student is disclosing a rape to professor or advisor, that’s because there’s a sense of vulnerability (obviously) and a sense of trust that goes beyond what you might have the cops. There’s a preexisting relationship there.
And in order to foster that relationship, since we ARE NOT the justice system, you sort of want to err on the side of the victim rather than accused. Keep in mind, that no matter what happens with the school “investigation” the rights of the victim and the accused in the court of law are unchanged. And vice versa. So preponderance of evidence vs beyond a reasonable doubt, matters because you want to be able to protect the alleged victim even if the alleged accused is legally innocent. Like, in the absolute worst possible case here, lets say a girl accuses a boy of sexual assault… lets say there’s no evidence whatsoever. Maybe it even goes to trial even, and the boy is exonerated. Or maybe there’s not enough evidence to warrant that and the whole thing goes away. Either way, it’s still probably in the best interest of the school to make sure these people are not in the same class at the very least. And I can tell you from personal experience that that happens and it’s not good for anyone (teacher included).
But as you said, and as Nicole said, and as I basically pointed out originally, nothing Devos said actually addresses ANY of this. I don’t think she actually even understands the issue. Like, I think YOUR concerns could just be solved by adding the phrase “mandatory reporting of all allegations” and you’re done, right?