Chiming in because I was tagged. Investigations of sexual assault on campus are not criminal investigations, and, as Mav said, they in no way preclude criminal investigations. They are conducted independently. If a university finds a respondent (we don’t use the language of the “accused” or “defendant” because it is not a criminal process) responsible for a violation of the code of conduct–which explicitly prohibits sexual misconduct, assaults, etc.–that does not affect any potential criminal investigation in any way.
“Beyond a reasonable doubt” is not the standard in all legal proceedings; it is in criminal proceedings, but not always in civil ones. If the state is considering depriving someone of their liberty, then I damn well want that standard to be “beyond a reasonable doubt.” But there are other situations, where less is at stake for the accused, where the standard of evidence is simply lower. University Title IX proceedings aren’t even civil legal proceedings, so the fact that they take a lesser standard of evidence seems reasonable to me. It was also explained to us today that one of the reasons for the lower standard of evidence was to prevent a “chilling” effect on reporting. Getting a conviction in a criminal rape case is hard, and this has a very obvious effect on the willingness of victims to pursue criminal charges. Where the stakes are relatively low–no one has a “right” to attend a specific university–and where there is a very clear, known problem–1 in 4 women and 1 in 16 men on college campuses are sexually assaulted during their time there–going with the lower standard of evidence to make sure that victims of sexual assault feel comfortable coming forward is important.
The university has a responsibility to maintain a non-hostile environment for all employees and students. Investigation of complaints against students who create a hostile environment for others–whether it’s sexual assault, simple assault, theft, etc.–is necessary for the university to be able to maintain its responsibility to students in this regard; and when it’s found likely that a student has in fact violated the code of conduct in a way that creates a hostile environment, then removal of the student from the university is a way for the university to discharge its responsibility to all the students.
A student’s “right” to attend a given university extents only as far as that student’s adherence to the standards of conduct–academic and behavioral–that the university sets out. We do not have legal proceedings when a student is accused of egregious plagiarism; but if a student is found to have plagiarized egregiously, that student may well be expelled. A violation of academic standards–where the standard of evidence is often “preponderance of the evidence” (or sometimes “clear and convincing”)–is considered a reasonable reason to remove a student from the university. In a case where one student has assaulted another–whether sexually or otherwise–this seems even more obviously reasonable. The process for judging responsibility for a sexual assault on campus (by members of campus) is the same as it is for all other code of conduct violations, at least here; the only difference is that we get a LOT more training about sexual assault cases. So I’d say the rights of students accused of sexual assault on college campuses are probably better protected BECAUSE of Title IX legislation–because it encourages a lot more training–than they are for any other code of conduct offense.