On Sept. 7, U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos formally condemned Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972, stating that “the current approach isn’t working” according to The Washington Post.
This “current approach” that DeVos refers to is not only harmful to all college students across America, but it also fails to enforce the very rules of equality that its creators intended. The original wording of Title IX states that:
“No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.”
Now, this law sounds perfectly reasonable, but the issue arises with how Title IX has morphed, or rather, mutated, into a law that can result in the expulsion of any college student who’s been accused of any form of sexual assault or harassment.
You may be wondering how that can be the case. What does rape or sexual assault have to do with women and men being treated equally during their time at their university? The problem arises when we look at how our government and society have twisted the definition of ‘sexual assault.’
The current usage of Title IX, combined with former President Obama’s “Dear Colleague” letter, demands that any college that receives federal funding of any type must “take immediate action to eliminate the harassment.”
Obama’s letter even goes so far as to state: “Conduct may constitute unlawful sexual harassment under Title IX even if the police do not have sufficient evidence of a criminal violation.” Basically, if you were to be accused of sexual harassment or assault and the police did not find enough evidence to send you to an actual court, the university’s personal Title IX court can still prosecute you and kick you out of college.
As college students, this should worry every single person attending NDSU. Can you imagine being dragged into some Kafkaesque kangaroo court on a charge that doesn’t adhere to the rules of America’s court system? These Title IX courts don’t require proof beyond a reasonable doubt, but rather that there’s some evidence that proves the accuser’s claim. Anyone whose legal history only amounts to watching an episode of Law & Order knows that simply having some evidence that favors one side does not equate a sentence.
Title IX courts have been sprouting up across the country as of late, leading to many young college students, the majority being male, being accused of sexual crimes that they did not commit. But hey, if there’s evidence that you slept with someone and that person’s tears are convincing enough, you’re getting the boot. That $50,000 college degree you sunk your entire life savings into? It’s gone. Dust in the wind. A dream that you cannot fulfill because some girl or guy you slept with one drunken college night decided that he/she regretted it the next day and wanted to take your ass to court.
One of the cornerstones of America is the fact that each American citizen who’s accused of a crime is innocent until proven guilty. They also are innocent until there’s proof beyond a reasonable doubt. Allowing these Kafkaesque courts to judge and potentially expel university students across the country without due process is dangerous, unconstitutional and downright appalling. Everyone deserves a fair and constitutional trial, no matter the crime.