Contact: Teri Stoddard
‘Point of Parody:’ Six More Editorials Slam Campus Sex Assault Panels
WASHINGTON / May 1, 2013 – Campus sex assault committees at Swarthmore, Occidental, Brown, and Cornell found themselves at the center of satire and scrutiny this past week as six new editorials probed sex assault complaints at these institutions. SAVE calls on the Department of Education to respond to allegations of civil rights violations arising from a 2011 policy issued by its Office for Civil Rights.
One editorial, “Swarthmore, Occidental, and Their Kangaroo Courts,” documents how Swarthmore College mandates that the accused refrain from any outside discussion of the allegation, thus precluding assistance by a defense attorney. At Swarthmore, “an accused student can be punished even if no charges were filed against him,” thus reaching the “point of parody,” columnist KC Johnson asserts.
Dr. Helen Smith takes the argument a step farther, wondering if breaches of due process for the accused represent a “Secret War on Men?” Smith charges universities have “established a kangaroo campus court system” for alleged sexual misconduct that have “little due process protection.” These procedures form part of a larger “hostile environment on campuses” for men, Smith believes.
Professor Walter Mead places the Department of Education’s sexual assault mandate within the context of heavy drug use, binge drinking, and hook up culture that have “turned many campuses into genuinely toxic environments.” But abandoning “our commitment to ideas like the presumption of innocence will not fix what is wrong on campus today,” Mead warns.
“The federal sex assault mandate has become a wrecking ball to fundamental concepts of democratic society like due process and the presumption of innocence,” notes SAVE spokesperson Sherry Warner-Seefeld. “The refusal of the federal Department of Education to respond to numerous letters must be seen as tacit acknowledgement of the civil rights travesty it has created.”
The six editorials, published during the week of April 21-27, 2013, are listed online (1). To date, over 120 editorials have criticized the DED mandate as an anathema to civil rights. Thirteen national organizations, including the American Association for University Professors, have called for repeal of the federal mandate (2).
Stop Abusive and Violent Environments is a victim-advocacy organization working for evidence-based solutions to domestic violence and sexual assault: www.saveservices.org