A social media campaign utilizing the hashtag #DearBetsy is asking Betsy DeVos, Donald Trump’s Secretary of Education nominee, not to roll back the widely-criticized overreach of Title IX regulations on college campuses if she is confirmed to the position on Wednesday.
According to a column from Mic, the multimedia social media campaign is asking DeVos to promise to enforce Title IX rights for students, particularly in regards to prosecuting alleged cases of sexual assault. The column makes no mention of the widely-documented miscarriages of justice that have occurred as a result of Title IX.
In Partnership with Know Your IX, End Rape on Campus launched the multimedia campaign #DearBetsy imploring DeVos to promise to protect and enforce Title IX rights for all students regardless of gender identity, gender expression and sexual orientation, Sofie Karasek, director of education for End Rape on Campus, said in the YouTube video. The campaign also asks DeVos to keep public all lists of educational institutions under investigation for Title IX violations and to uphold the Title IX rights for sexual violence and harassment.
— Grace Rogers (@TheGraceRogers) January 9, 2017
— End Rape on Campus (@endrapeoncampus) January 9, 2017
Feminists began their campaign after it emerged that DeVos donated $10,000 to the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), which fights to protect the due process rights of those accused of sexual assault on college campuses. FIRE also defends free speech on campus, which has become a hot-button issue in recent years.
In a statement, FIRE argued that protecting civil rights shouldn’t be a partisan issue. “The basic protections for which FIRE argues — the right to the active participation of counsel; the right to see the evidence in one’s case and to meaningfully question witnesses; and the right to an impartial tribunal, among others — benefit all parties and do not impede the pursuit of justice,” the group said. “Outside of the campus context, nobody would argue that reducing due process protections, including the burden of proof, is necessary to secure a just outcome.”
Criminal prosecutions of sexual assault are based on the “beyond a reasonable doubt standard,” while civil cases use a lesser standard called “the preponderance of the evidence,” in which the court decides whether or not the incident was more likely than not to have occurred. Most campus sexual assault cases are decided in civil court, and because of this some activists believe that individuals are being charged with crimes that they didn’t commit.
In the past few years, buoyed by a media-fuelled panic over “rape culture,” there were several notable rape hoaxes on campus. Emma Sulkowicz, a radical student at Columbia University, defamed one of her peers after a university investigation cleared him of any wrongdoing. Sulkowicz, or “mattress girl,” as she was often referred, eventually made a pornographic film in which she reenacted her version of the alleged rape incident.
Despite the fact that her alleged attacker was cleared in a campus court, Sulkowicz became a media celebrity and progressive heroine. She was even invited to attend President Obama’s 2015 State of the Union address by Democratic senator Kirsten Gillibrand, one of the more well-known advocates of kangaroo courts on campus.
Another notorious example of the campus-rape panic going wild was Rolling Stone’s fake story about an alleged gang-rape at the University of Virginia, in which reporter Sabrina Rubin Erdely published a fictitious account of a gang-rape at the university. The hoax received widespread media attention, especially after Rolling Stone refused to terminate Erdely. The reporter was nonetheless ordered by the court to pay $2 million to the University of Virginia for defamation.
Senator Bob Casey (D-Penn.) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) wrote a letter to President-elect Trump last week in which they urged him to maintain the “preponderance of the evidence” standard for campus sexual assault cases. Casey and Murray argued that it remains “the correct and appropriate standard to use” in this type of case.
“It is critically important that these policies remain in effect in order to protect students from sexual violence and promote healthy learning communities,” they wrote. “We respectfully urge you to strongly support these efforts to end campus sexual assault.”
Nevertheless, on the issue of Title IX overreach, Democrats are increasingly in the minority. In 2015, a California judge issued a blow to faulty campus sexual assault investigations, when he decided that a student at UC-San Diego wasn’t afforded fair due process. In his hearing, the student was denied the right to cross-examine his accusers and adverse witnesses were limited.
The Court determines that it is unfair to Petitioner that his questions were reviewed by the Panel Chair for her alone to determine whether or not the question would be asked and then answered by the witness. While the Court understands the need to prevent additional trauma to potential victims of sexual abuse, this can be achieved in a less restrictive manner. The limiting of the questions in this case curtailed the right of confrontration [sic] crucial to any definition of a fair hearing.
A 2014 article from columnist Emily Yoffe at the progressive Slate Magazine, argued that “efforts to protect women from a putative epidemic of violence have led to misguided policies that infringe on the civil rights of men.” Yoffe, writing after the unraveling of the Rolling Stone hoax, told the story of a University of Michigan student nearly had his life destroyed as a result of faulty policies designed to protect women from sexual violence.
Yoffe also questioned the legitimacy of the now-common claim that one in four female students will be raped. “The one-fifth to one-quarter assertion would mean that young American college women are raped at a rate similar to women in Congo, where rape has been used as a weapon of war.”
The idea that DeVos’ Department of Education might protect both the rights of the accused and the accusers has clearly perturbed the feminist activists who helped bring about the rampant abuses of justice on campus.
Tom Ciccotta is a libertarian who writes about social justice and libertarian issues for Breitbart News. You can follow him on Twitter @tciccotta or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org