"We do not know what the right policy is," the editorial board says, "—but in this editorial, we lay out the desired components of an effective sexual misconduct policy."

"We believe that the University’s sexual assault policy ought to ensure fairness for the accused while also giving victims enough time to overcome the psychological hurdles and social pressures, which may prevent them from reporting incidents. Statutes of limitations are a crucial component of our legal system in order to ensure fairness for the accused. Statutes of limitations are useful to ensure a fair trial and due process because, over time, a victim’s recollection of events becomes hazy, and memory becomes less reliable. For this reason, reducing the statute of limitations to one year may increase the likelihood of a legitimate suit, encompassing accurate and uncorrupted evidence.

"To show consideration toward the victim, the statute of limitations must reflect the unique psychological trauma caused by sexual assault. The system should allow the victim time to process the psychological pain and emotional ambiguity before reporting the incident. It is possible that this time may enhance a victim’s understanding of the incident. Victims also might be more likely to report sexual assault after seeking support from a counselor, friends or family. If it is indeed true that time actually improves the credibility of evidence and allows more victims to come forward, this would defeat the idea that victim reliability diminishes over time.

"Achieving this balance is critical, as sexual assault cases often involve ambiguity. There is often a lack of direct evidence, which results in cases coming down to the victim’s word against that of the accused. After adding alcohol to the mix, the case becomes even less clear. We must also consider that there are a number of reasons why a sexual assault victim may need time before reporting the incident. Psychological trauma and social pressures are powerful factors that can keep a victim from reporting sexual assault.

"It is critical to strike a balance between ensuring reliable evidence and allowing enough time for victims to become ready to report sexual assault. Last Spring, to better accommodate victims, the standard of proof for proving someone guilty was reduced per federal guidance from “clear and convincing” to a “preponderance of evidence.” Changes in standard of proof as well as statute of limitations must reflect balance and justice for both sides. Both of these considerations are important in our criminal justice system, and giving undue priority to either side is unfair. Given the ambiguities of many sexual assault incidents, great effort is required to preserve fairness for both parties."

As we noted above, we don't agree with everything in the editorial (e.g., the "preponderance of the evidence" standard raises serious concerns), but its insistence on adopting a balance is not just laudable, it is almost unheard of in these circles.

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