Opinion: Will We Get Due Process for Sexual Assault on Campus?

Alex Skelley

It’s Christmas time again, and due process for those accused of sexual assault on campus may be under the Christmas tree this year. But on the list for two US Senators is something different; it is the withdrawal of important rules pertaining to due process for sexual assault on campus. How bad is this? Honestly pretty bad.


On Wednesday the 29th, two Democratic senators called for for the withdrawal of new rules dealing with sexual assault investigations of college campuses. The new rules were proposed by Department of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, and would require due process and organization in these investigations. Critics of these new rules have called them a step in a wrong direction that would bring us back to a time when female victims had nowhere to turn.


These new rules would also do many other things. They would require a high standard of proof to be met before people accused of sexual assault can be expelled. That is to avoid falsely accused students from getting their athletic or academic career ruined. They would require all parties to be provided with all the evidence that will be used or presented in hearings, as well as a form of cross-examination. This is due to the fact that schools would often withhold evidence that could disprove an allegation.


Others who spoke out against the rules had many other claims for why the rules are bad. A few people claimed that the rules prevented them from punishing the accused. If you ask me, punishment should be for those proven guilty though, and not the accused. One student at a press conference recounted her story: “In the months following my assault, my grades steadily dropped. I was forced to see him every time I went to class.”


So are these rules terrible? A step in the wrong direction? Totally! I mean how dare people ask for due process, or to be assumed innocent until proven guilty, or to ask for a higher standard of proof, or even to be given access to all evidence in the case.


These are the new rules that people are complaining about– rules that are meant to make sure the process is fair, and doesn’t lead to wrongful punishment. There have been many cases where young men’s lives were ruined by allegations that turned out to be false, just because there was nothing in the rules to ensure a fair process. Just to name a few high profile cases of this: 2006 Duke Lacrosse Hoax, 2013 Columbia University Mattress Girl Case, and the 2014 UVA Rape Hoax. The new rules would prevent stuff like this from happening.


It is an atrocity that elected US Senators are so shamelessly attacking these new rules. The problem is that they adhere to the #MeToo standard of believing all women, and not the idea of presumption of innocence until proven guilty for both sexes. 


While the #MeToo movement has had good intentions, it’s turned into a movement that supports believing all women, no matter what, without the proper evidence needed. It has thrown out the idea of due process in exchange for a mob rule. If a girl claims she was attacked, she’s heralded as a brave hero, while the accused has his life ruined, even if he didn’t do it.


The popularity of the movement is on the way down, and the reasons are evident, as I stated above. If the # MeToo movement was to reform in a sense to where they call for justice for rape victims, but also push for the respect of due process and presumption of innocence, it would make to movement more popular with better effects.


It is important that we implement these rules. I, along with almost everyone in the country, am against rape. Also, I  believe that it is imperative to have protection and a fair process to make sure people who commit these acts do get punished, but the ones who are falsely accused do not. Keeping the old rules would be destructive and unfair. I think that almost all of us can agree on the fact that rapists should be punished, and the innocent shouldn’t, so let’s put it into practice and let these rules stand.