Many parents have no idea what is happening to our young adults (especially our young men) on college campuses today.
Victims are being turned away, the innocent are being falsely accused, and families are being destroyed. At the heart of the problem is a legal system that has created broad definitions, weakened due process, and removed the presumption of innocence.
It all began 2011, when, in an effort to protect women’s right to learn without fear of harassment or discrimination, President Obama’s Department of Education sent out a “Dear Colleague” letter seeking tougher action against sexual violence. The department began pressing colleges to more aggressively police sexual assaults and also threatened to take away Title IX funding from schools that failed to comply.
Title IX is a law enacted in 1972 that prohibits any educational program or activity that receives federal financial assistance from denying benefits to or discriminating against someone based on their sex.
As a result, well-meaning campus administrators responded by erasing due-process protections for suspected offenders. They also changed the definition of sexual assault, created Kangaroo courts on campus, and scaled back on protections for the accused.
PolitiChicks recently interviewed Attorney Cynthia Garrett, the Co-President of Families Advocating for Campus Equality (FACE), and Board President of Stop Abusive and Violent Environments (SAVE). Both groups champion fairness in campus sexual misconduct cases.
Garrett described the devastating impact that the 2011 “Dear College” policy has had on young men who have been falsely accused of sexual misconduct:
“It has caused devastation to many of these young men. They often get expelled from the university where they are attending and have to transfer to another school. Many other schools, especially decent schools, won’t even accept them. Many experience humiliation and job loss. Many of these young men become very depressed and even suicidal.”
One example of this “gender injustice” is at Colorado State University at Pueblo where a supposed rapist was punished even though the ‘victim’ also said that she was not raped and that their sexual encounter was consensual.
CSU student Grant Neal filed a federal lawsuit against the university and the U.S. Department of Education claiming sexual discrimination after he was sanctioned for a sexual act that he and his girlfriend insist was consensual sex.
Neal claimed in the federal lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Denver that the reason his civil rights were violated and that he was punished only because of stereotypes about male athletes.
According to the Denver Post:
“Neal claims he had consensual sex on Oct. 25 with a woman at the school he identifies as Jane Doe.
But a peer of Jane Doe’s in the Athletic Training Program reported the encounter as rape to CSU faculty after seeing a hickey on her neck, says the 90-page lawsuit filed by Denver attorney Michael Mirabella and New York City attorneys Andrew Miltenberg, Tara Davis and Jeffrey Berkowitz.
The lawsuit points out that the peer was not an eye witness to the sexual encounter and did not hear about it from either Neal or the woman.
DeLuna notified Neal on Dec. 18 that he had been found responsible for “sexual misconduct” in violation of the university’s code of conduct.
His “unwarranted and severe” penalty was suspension for the remainder of Jane Doe’s enrollment at the college, the lawsuit says.
The lawsuit says the defendants failed to conduct a thorough and impartial investigation, failed to hold a hearing on the charges against Neal and failed to provide him with proper notice of the charges.”
Neal lost his football and wrestling scholarships, which damaged his future education, career, reputation and athletic prospects.
The lawsuit gives graphic details about several sexual encounters between Neal and Jane Doe. When later asked about the events, Jane Doe made it clear their relationship was consensual, the lawsuit said.
Jane Doe was quoted in the lawsuit as telling a school official:
“Our stories are the same and he’s a good guy,” “He’s not a rapist, he’s not a criminal, it’s not even worth any of this hoopla!”
Cynthia Garrett told PolitiChicks:
” These cases are more common than many people realize. After meeting someone who personally experienced this type of ‘gender injustice,’ I felt I had to do something to help.”
She also stated:
“What we represent is not a popular issue, we know that, but there are so many young men whose lives have been destroyed by these allegations…
As a female lawyer, I also considered myself a feminist, as in “equal pay for equal work” kind of feminism. But this new brand of female empowerment has led to job loss, humiliation, expulsion, and even sometimes suicide of men in college who were falsely accused and were stripped of their due process rights.”
FACE (Families Advocating for Campus Equality) is a non-profit organization founded in 2013 by three mothers of sons who were falsely accused of sexual misconduct at their respective colleges. These mothers hail from different parts of the country and although their sons attended, variously, a large state school, a Big Ten university, and a small liberal arts college, their nightmare experience was remarkably similar. As a result, they established FACE to focus on promoting and insuring fairness and to seek justice for families and students caught up in the timely and devastating issue of sexual misconduct on college campuses.
The mission of FACE is to advocate for equal treatment and due process for those affected by sexual misconduct allegations on campus and to support those students and their families through outreach and education.
Garrett also told PolitiChicks:
“FACE is such a wonderful support group for these families and these young men because they oftentimes feel very humiliated, ashamed, and alone.”
SAVE (Stop Abusive and Violent Environments) is another organization that works on evidence-based solutions to end sexual assault and domestic violence. SAVE believes that effective and just solutions to these problems require consideration of the legitimate needs of all parties, including complainants and the accused.
The good news is that with the new Trump administration, top Senate Republicans are now vowing to end the overreach used by Obama’s Department of Education, such as the “Dear College” mandate of 2011.
Republican Sen. James Lankford Stated:
“Administration officials “have abused ‘Dear Colleague’ letters and ‘guidance documents’ to mandate policies for schools without adhering to legally-required regulatory processes.” Lankford added, “Some of the most egregious examples of executive overreach and intimidation” took place at the department, “and I believe it was this type of overreach that the American people repudiated in this election.”
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