Saturday, December 1, 2012

College administrator's Twilight Zone moment: we aren't determining whether there was a rape when we expel a young man for rape

Noel English, equity office manager at the University of Missouri, has defended the Department of Education's April 2011 "Dear Colleague" mandate to lower the standard of proof in college sex cases to a mere preponderance of the evidence by uttering something so bizarre, so other-worldly, that it ranks among the most preposterous statements we've seen since we started speaking out on behalf of the wrongly accused, and that is saying a hell of a lot.

To appreciate the absurdity of English's statement, you need to understand that by lowering the standard of proof in these cases, it is much easier to punish not just the guilty but the innocent as well. According to Cornell law professor Cynthia Bowman: “The consequences for someone expelled for sexual assault are enormous and will follow him throughout his life, leading to rejection by other schools, inability to qualify for the bar and a great deal of stigma. To impose those consequences on someone requires a rigorous standard of proof and many due process protections to ensure fairness.”  Likewise:“The [new] standard is too low for something that can be so life-changing,” said Alwina Bennett, assistant provost for graduate student affairs and a public contact for the Rape Crisis Hotline at Brandeis University. Ms. Bennett, by the way, is someone who believes that rape is a serious and under-reported problem at the school.

The standard of proof that should be employed in cases where expulsion is possible should be set high, either "clear and convincing evidence" or "beyond a reasonable doubt," to insure that the innocent aren't punished with the guilty. That's the only reason that standards of proof are typically set high to begin with -- to protect the innocent.  Somehow, concern for the wrongly accused wasn't on the Department of Education's radar when it wrote the "Dear Colleague" letter.

Noel English, for one, is just fine with lowering the standard of proof, thank you very much, and here are her reasons (sit down before your read this):
"The appropriate burden of proof in the university is not as high as the criminal standards," said Noel English, who manages the university equity office at Missouri. "To me that makes sense. Because in reality, we aren't determining whether there was a rape. We are determining whether there was discrimination."  
Read it again. "We aren't determining whether there was a rape." 

Now cue Rod Serling: "You are about to enter another dimension. A dimension not only of sight and sound, but of mind. A journey into a wondrous land of imagination. Next stop, the Twilight Zone.

Excuse me, Ms. English, but that's exactly what you are determining when you expel a young accused of rape--whether he committed a rape. It's a question that has a life-altering answer, and if you expel him, it will stigmatize him to his grave--keep him from getting into other colleges, from attending graduate schools, from getting jobs.  Of course you are determining whether there was a rape.  And under the Dept. of Education's mandate, you are allowed to make the determination to expel even if you have significant doubts about whether he did it.

Let's make clear that we fully understand that a university's disciplinary process does not impose penal penalties that are reserved for the state. No one pretends that they do. My guess is that is what English was suggesting with her bizarre comment, that and the fact that the "Dear Colleague" letter is ostensibly designed to prevent discrimination (colleges were not properly addressing the sexual assault problem, etc. -- but it is based on a misapplication of the law, as former Department of Education attorney Hans Bader has demonstrated).

So we have a college administrator in charge of equity who suggests it is okay to expel someone for committing rape without bothering to determine whether he committed rape. This is the level of the public discourse on a critical issue that has grave implications for the wrongly accused?

We deserve better than this. We need to demand a more rational discourse.


  1. Not surprised to read this comment from a University employee honestly...How else are they going to defend their position? They know that what they're doing is wrong. The excuse that it's a university and not the criminal justice system has grown old. If that's the case, why then is the university prosecuting people for felony CRIMES? They are crimes, not acts of discrimination. As such, they should be handled by the appropriate authorities, not a bunch of untrained pencil pushers.

    The university's denial of accused students' rights, on the other hand, IS an act of discrimination.

  2. Very well put. And I agree, it is discrimination.

  3. Ah yes the torture masters philosophy:
    I'm not hurting you because I cannot feel it."

    This occurs when the
    'subject' is found to be less than human, a literal declaration of war.

  4. You don't get it.

    The dogma is that "women would never lie about rape".

    So making it extremely easy to expel a man based on the accusation of a woman just catches more true rapists.

    Because false rape accusation are exceedingly rare. Because no woman would ever level a false accusation.

    Get it now?

    (all this is sarasm, of course)

  5. But, serious that is the logic.

    All accused rapists should be severely punished.

    Because all accused rapists really ARE rapists, really ARE guilty of rape.

    You guys are doing a good job debunking such nonsense that was planted into people's heads by feminist falsification of statistics.

  6. At least they admit that they are destroying the innocent along with the guilty. In their sick minds there is nothing wrong with this.


  7. I think Human-Stupity is correct. They are not admitting that they are destroying the innocent along with the guilty, because in their minds men are guilty as a group. Even though it sounds like Ms. English doesn't understand English, at least to anyone who isn't versed in liberal identity politics, that is what she is saying. "Because in reality, we aren't determining whether there was a rape. We are determining whether there was discrimination." In her reality, which most people do not share, the determination is that a member of the oppressor group wronged a member of the victim group -- whether or not the consent of an individual had been violated is irrelevant.

    Another example of this collectivist mentality is this article that associates rape with college athletes being a privileged group.

    "Therefore, despite the Department of Education's "Dear Colleague" letter, which mandates that all known cases of possible sexual assault must be investigated on college campuses, officials often side with the poor, poor guy who would never have abused his social status to forcibly sleep with women."

  8. I know that names such as Ashley, Jamie and Robin/Robyn, which are traditionally male names, have become female names, but I believe that Noel English is probably a man.

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  11. I've looked at the photo and stand corrected. Definitely a woman. This extract from her bio is interesting.

    "Noel holds a juris doctorate (JD) from Northwestern University, but nevertheless believes that a strictly legalistic approach is not necessarily the best way to help people who seek assistance. She remains optimistic that at an institution of higher learning people can learn to listen to one another."

    Law is the right way to resolve things unless it's trumped by poliotical correctness. People should learn to listen to each other in institutions of HE, unless the other person has been accused of sexual assault.

  12. If there are attorney readers of this blog, this question, in earnest, is directed to them:

    It seems that a young male who was expelled from college and upon whose record it was reflected that he was expelled because of sexual assault would have little difficulty in proving injury to reputation, loss of opportunity, and perhaps future loss of income. Would he, despite the OCR's letter, be able to prevail in court on a claim that the university owed him a duty to offer him a reasonable opportunity to clear his name and either owed him a duty (or perhaps breeched a written contract or an implied contract of good faith dealing) not to expel him without at least clear and convincing evidence of some bad action, and this breech of duty and resulting damage is not mitigated by the letter from OCR (which is neither a legislative body nor part of the judicial branch) recommending that a preponderance of evidence be adopted?

    Would the same young male be likely to prevail in a civil suit for slander and damage to reputation against the female who lodged the complaint against him (assuming that he is indeed innocent and could establish that by 50.1% of the evidence)? [I think the burden of proof of the statements made is on the defendant in a slander suit but I am not an attorney.]