Contact: Gina Lauterio
In Wake of Harvard Law Letter, Concerns Intensify About Campus Due Process
WASHINGTON / October 31, 2014 – Two weeks after 28 Harvard law professors signed a letter protesting the university’s new Sexual Harassment Policy, concerns about due process in campus sex cases have intensified across the country.
Signed by many pre-eminent members of the Harvard Law School faculty, the document expressed the professors’ “strong objections” to the university policy which they argued is “inconsistent with many of the most basic principles we teach” and which, they warned, “will do more harm than good.” The letter appeared in the October 15 edition of the Boston Globe: http://www.bostonglobe.com/opinion/2014/10/14/rethink-harvard-sexual-harassment-policy/HFDDiZN7nU2UwuUuWMnqbM/story.html
Since then, over 30 editorials have appeared in various news outlets expressing doubts about the procedures that colleges are following to handle criminal sexual assault offenses: www.accusingu.org.
While some editorials highlight the concerns of the Harvard faculty members, others warn of constitutional challenges such as the specter of possible federalization of sexual assault laws: http://thehill.com/blogs/pundits-blog/crime/221471-federalizing-sex
Many of the essays probe due process and other flaws in the so-called Affirmative Consent policy which was recently signed into law by California Governor Jerry Brown, and is being considered elsewhere around the nation.
At Yale University, Amalia Halikias declared, “The partisan proponents of the California bill aren’t even trying to hide its preposterous implications…With this law, California legislators have effectively declared war on the presumption of innocence.” http://yaledailynews.com/blog/2014/10/28/no-to-yes-means-yes/
Kathleen A. Bogle, director of women’s studies at La Salle University, warned bluntly, “Rapists do not care whether the victim is consenting or not…The absence of the word ‘yes’ is not going to stop serial rapists.” http://chronicle.com/article/Yes-Means-Yes-Isnt-the/149639/
Students and lawyers are finding that Affirmative Consent policies muddy the water about the meaning of consent. A survey at Massachusetts Institute of Technology revealed that two-thirds of undergraduates agree it’s possible to “accidently” rape someone, especially if alcohol is involved. http://reason.com/blog/2014/10/28/1-in-6-mit-students-sexually-assaulted
SAVE has drafted a bill that would require campus sexual assault cases be handled by local law enforcement authorities, not untrained campus disciplinary panels: http://www.saveservices.org/camp/campus-rape-courts/
Stop Abusive and Violent Environments is working to promote effective solutions to campus sexual assault: http://www.saveservices.org/