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Campus Kangaroo Courts
A Racial Twist in the Campus Sex Wars?

Throughout most of the 20th century, American progressives often took the lead in strengthening due process and civil liberties protections for people accused of wrongdoing, well aware that minorities and the poor tended to suffer the most when these principles were abandoned. Over the last several years, however, on college campuses (and, to a lesser extent, in the larger discourse) the politics have shifted, and it is now progressives who have successfully weakened the due process protections available to people charged with sexual assault.

Progressives pushing the guilty-until-proven-innocent standards think they are fighting entrenched sexism, and maybe they are, on the margins. But the evisceration of due process has come at a cost—and, as 20th-century civil-liberties liberals might have predicted, that cost can perhaps be especially steep for minority students. At least, that’s the implication of a new lawsuit filed by two black students who were summarily dismissed from the University of Findlay in Ohio on a sexual assault charge. Ashe Schow of the Washington Examiner reports:

Two students expelled for campus sexual assault are suing their university, alleging racism played a role in their case.

The two accused students, identified in the lawsuit as Justin Browning and Alphonso Baity, II, are both African-American. They were accused by a white woman, identified in the lawsuit only as M.K., after an encounter at a party.

Browning and Baity were expelled despite the fact that every witness interviewed corroborated the accused students’ story, and that witnesses came forward to say that M.K. bragged about the encounter as a consensual act. Not only were they expelled, but the expulsions came just two days after the accusation was filed, and campus procedures regarding sexual assault accusations were not followed.

Schow, a veteran chronicler of administrative malfeasance in campus sexual assault cases, goes on to describe the total lack of regard for basic fairness as alleged in the students’ complaint, describing it as “the most incredible I have ever seen.” To get a taste of how out-of-control campus tribunals have become, read her whole report. Reports of these kinds of incidents should also be treated carefully, and we have no first-hand knowledge of the case. But Schow’s report, if accurate, paints an ugly picture.

It’s tempting for those of us who oppose the campus war on due process to hope that cases like these will finally lead progressives—who control campus administrations, and (at least for now) the relevant federal regulatory agencies—to reconsider the wisdom of their campus sexual assault agenda. But that is the wrong way to win the fight. Basic liberal principles like due process should be upheld not because we feel particularly bad for this or that identity group, but because they are right and true for everyone. This is not about whether women or minorities are higher on the “privilege pyramid” that campus progressives have created. It’s about maintaining equality before a system in which race and sex should be invisible.

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  • qet

    I have a hard time believing that this is about race. 10 years ago I might have. Not only has it been evident for some time that the perverted brand of feminism that has taken over the administration of college sex in the name of a non-existent “rape culture” was only ever an exercise in will to power, now the feminists no longer feel it necessary even to disguise or dissemble their motivations or to scruple to present even the barest appearance of fairness, but go about summarily executing their sentences with a boldness that even Torquemada would blush at.

  • Anthony

    “It’s about maintaining equality before a system in which race and sex should be invisible.”

    The above may be a principle (in conformance to…) TAI/Via Meadia purports to subscribe to but a keen eye may have pause to think otherwise. Beyond that, if there is a central lesson to be drawn from historical and philosophical condition in which we find ourselves, it is that the stake each of us has in living in a “just” society is independent of the color of our skin or the biological determination of our sex.

    Implicit in post’s rendering is belief in the tandem dogmas of equal opportunity and equality before the law (and by implication, progressives, “minorities” liberals, etc. are not adhering to a color-sex blind standard not only at some college campuses but also not in other arenas of post industrial America). Indeed, are implications in post simply touting procedural standards while being indifferent to substantive consequences?

    Perhaps, “at the root of our predicament is the fact that we have redefined equality so that the ideal mirrors reality (or, at least, so that the ideal is close enough to reality that the gap can be closed without testing our consciences or sacrificing our conveniences). We have accomplished this by substituting for the substantive goal of equality, the procedural standards of equal opportunity and equality before the law. These procedural standards mask our substantive failure and, by permitting us to believe we have in fact prevailed in our struggle with inequality, have removed the tension between what is and what ought to be that makes the struggle necessary.”

    On the whole, the idea (quote) above more than some grand liberal/progressive/categorical intent may lie at root of exasperation expressed in post’s sentiments. For that reason, a more civilizing question is where lies the measure and limit by which men (women) who do not really believe in their equal humanity owe to one another.

  • Angel Martin

    I don’t care about disputes amongst the promiscuous. And i don’t care if they are resolved “fairly”, or not.

    • Tom

      You should. Setting the precedent that due process is unnecessary is dangerous.

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