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Campus Due Process Sexual Assault Sexual Harassment Title IX

Disregarding Bogus Claims of Activists, Vast Majority of Americans Support Campus Due Process

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Contact: Rebecca Stewart

Telephone: 513-479-3335


Disregarding Bogus Claims of Activists, Vast Majority of Americans Support Campus Due Process

WASHINGTON / June 9, 2021 – For years, campus activists have promoted a narrative about campus sexual assault using inflammatory terms such as “rape culture.” But analyses reveal these claims to be factually untrue, pointing to the need to restore campus fairness. Over the last decade, campus groups have made a series of questionable claims.

These groups portray campus sexual assault as an exclusively a male-on-female problem. But according to the Centers for Disease Control, nearly identical numbers of men and women are victims of sexual violence. The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey reports that each year, 1.270 million women are raped, and 1.267 million men are “made to sexually penetrate” by their female partners (1).

Activists also have repeated the factoid that only 2-10% of sexual assault allegations are false (2). But the actual number is much higher. According to Brett Sokolow, head of the Association of Title IX Administrators, “Probably 40 or 50% of allegations of sexual assault are baseless.” (3)

More concerning is the belief that due process is an obstacle, not conduit to justice. According to this theory, the solution to campus sexual assault was to remove due process protections for the accused. As a result, reporting of incidents supposedly would increase, convictions would multiply, and sexual assault would be curbed. This was the rationale for the federal Dear Colleague Letter policy of 2011, which eliminated due process protections for the accused, such as the right to be represented by counsel.

But the “due process as an obstacle to justice” theory backfired.

A survey sponsored by the American Association of Universities documented increases in campus sexual assaults from 2015 to 2019 among undergraduates, growing by 1.4% for men and 3.0% among women. In 2019, only 11.2% of sexual assaults were reported to campus police, partly because only 45% of victims believed that school officials were “very likely” or “extremely likely” to take their report seriously (4).

Part of the problem can be traced to campus Title IX Coordinators who came to view their role as advocates, not neutral administrators. In many cases, these Coordinators made snap decisions of innocence or guilt, even before the formal investigation began. An early survey of Title IX coordinators concluded that these persons “did not consistently comply with requirements requiring mandatory reporting, did not consistently provide notice to respondents, and often departed from the investigation, documentation, and reporting requirements” of the Department of Education (5).

A 2020 YouGov survey commissioned by SAVE revealed strong public support for campus due process, as well (6):

  • Students accused of crimes on college campuses should receive the same civil liberties protections from their colleges that they receive in the court system: 68%
  • Students accused of sexual assault on college campuses should be punished only if there is clear and convincing evidence that they are guilty of a crime: 75%
  • Students accused of sexual assault on college campuses should have the right to know the charges against them before being called to defend themselves: 80%

Democrats and Republicans expressed similarly high levels of support for campus fairness (7).

This week, the federal Office for Civil Rights is holding a Public Hearing on the Title IX regulation that took effect last August. The Comment submitted by SAVE highlights the strong bipartisan support for campus due process among lawmakers, newspaper editorial boards, organizations, and individual commentators (8).

SAVE urges lawmakers and college administrators to disregard the dubious claims of activist groups, and instead work to uphold the quintessential principle of fairness and due process.