On August 20th the Wall Street Journal, arguably one of the worlds most prestigious publications, published a commentary written by Peter Berkowitz stating his opinion on the new rules for Title IX higher education funding. These rules, promulgated through a dear colleague letter from Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Russlynn Ali, head of the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) on April 4th of this year, are explained by Mr Berkowotz as such:
“At the cost of losing federal funding—on which all major institutions of higher education have grown and universities are obliged under Title IX of the Civil Rights Act (which prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex) to thoroughly investigate all allegations of sexual harassment and sexual assault on campus, including the felony of rape. They are also obliged, according to Ms. Ali, to curtail due process rights of the accused.
OCR’s new interpretation of Title IX “strongly discourages” universities from permitting the accused “to question or cross-examine the accuser” during the hearing. In addition, if universities provide an appeals process, it must be available to both parties—which subjects the accused to double jeopardy.
Most egregiously, OCR requires universities to render judgment using “a preponderance of the evidence” standard. This means that in a rape case, a campus disciplinary board of faculty, administrators and perhaps students serves as both judge and jury. Few if any of these judges are likely to have professional competence in fact-gathering, evidence analysis or judicial procedure. Yet to deliver a verdict of guilty, they need only believe that the accused is more likely than not to have committed the crime.”
The rest of the commentary was, predictably, a scathing indictment of Feminism, Political Correctness and the culture of Higher Education and those holding academic and administrative positions in our learning institutions. He goes on to write:
“One might have hoped that in response to OCR’s reduction of due process protections some professors and high university officials would come forward to object.
Where are the professors of literature who will patiently point out that, particularly where erotic desire is involved, intentions can be obscure, passions conflicting, the heart murky and the soul divided?
Where are the professors of natural science who will declare that OCR-dictated hearings are antithetical to the spirit of the scientific method, which depends on respect for the facts and testing claims through rational procedures?
Where are the professors of history, political science and law who will insist clearly and in public that due process is a fundamental component of American political institutions and culture, a cornerstone of our legal system, and indispensable in a free society to the fair administration of justice?
Where are the professors of moral philosophy and practical ethics who will stand up and declare that the presumption of innocence rightly gives expression to both the belief in the dignity of the individual and the awareness of human fallibility?
And where are the deans, provosts and university presidents who will explain in no uncertain terms to their campus communities and to the wider public that weakening due process and freedom of speech protections erodes the framework within which free inquiry flourishes?”
This is without a doubt the highest profile condemnation of feminist governance in the educational system and jurisprudence ever published in any mainstream news publication ever. Mr Berkowitz clearly has pointed a very firm and well aimed finger at the target of so many Men’s Rights activists and those concerned about the erosion of due process and the presumption of innocence and declares it abhorrent.
Jezebel, a popular feminist source of news and commentary was not long in attacking his article.
On August 21st Jezebel published Erin Gloria Ryan’s article entitled: “Women Threatening To Ruin All College Fun” lambasting Mr. Berkowitz’s WSJ piece. In it she states:
“Berkowitz is saying that the possibility of rape accusations threatens to endanger the educational experience for men, but apparently by “educational experience,” he means “partying experience.” What’s under threat is not young men’s ability to be educated or to live with freedom and liberty and don’t tread on me or whatever conservative buzzphrase he wants to ascribe to it; Berkowitz is deeply upset by the threat that due process poses to college men’s ability to have unfettered access to consequence-free sex with drunken co-eds.”
Ms. Ryan wrote this in response to Mr. Berkowitz’s reasonable and substantiated conclusion that much sex on campus is casual and often times fueled by alcohol. Thus, making claims about sexual impropriety often times ambiguous and certainly prone to deliberate falsification as was seen at Hofstra. This also underscores the undeniable theme in her article that the whole reason that men go to college is to have unfettered sex whenever they want and not to get an education.
More commentary on both sides is expected.