Under pressure from the federal government and activist groups, U.S. colleges and universities have spent the last five years curbing due process rights for students accused of sexual assault. But now they have another problem on their hands: An explosion of lawsuits from young men who say that the university proceedings resemble kangaroo courts, presuming guilt and expelling them without cause. The Washington Post reports:
Since 2011, more than 150 Title IX lawsuits have been filed against colleges and universities involving claims of due process violations during the course of investigations and proceedings related to sex assault allegations, according to a database kept by a group called Title IX For All. In the two decades before that year, the group found, only 15 such lawsuits were filed against universities. […]
Many plaintiffs are finding success in court with arguments that internal college investigations were flawed or biased.
“Now judges are digging deeper,” said Brett Sokolow, a lawyer who is president of the National Center for Higher Education Risk Management. “They are losing trust in the good faith that colleges had when addressing these situations. And that’s a very dangerous position for colleges.”
The truth is that while campus sexual assault is a real and hideously difficult problem to address, many university administrators have leaned too far over their skis in an effort to win more convictions. It’s a good thing that judges are scrutinizing these findings; hopefully students who were railroaded by overzealous administrations will continue to have their names cleared.
In the meantime, Congress should revive its effort to pass legislation that offers colleges comprehensive Title IX guidance that is fair to both parties and that directs colleges to enlist law enforcement in the resolution of the most serious complaints. Until that happens, we are likely to see more improvised student conduct codes, more amateur bureaucratic sex inquisitions, and a continued avalanche of lawsuits from young women and men alike.