Originally publication: Wall Street Journal
Regarding James Taranto's "An Education in College Justice" (op-ed, Dec. 7): The woman that Joshua Strange met at Auburn University will likely never forget him either. The incident framed as an "intimate encounter" is a poor euphemism for an alleged forcible sodomy commenced when the victim was asleep. This allegedly occurred in the context of intimate partner violence that included an allegation of physical abuse. While the author suggests Mr. Strange was "cleared" by the criminal justice system, the reality is that efforts to prosecute were not successful, which does not necessarily equate to actual innocence.
Recognizing the criminal justice system's routine failure to adequately prosecute such cases, Congress reauthorized the Violence Against Women Act this year. It included the Campus Sexual Violence Elimination Act (SaVE), which establishes standards for how colleges address sexual assault, dating violence, domestic violence and stalking on campus. The federal civil rights Title IX also requires schools to address such violence as a form of sex discrimination. Mr. Taranto indirectly references this law through its "directive," the U.S. Department of Education's 2011 Title IX Guidance (portions of which are included in the Campus SaVE Act).
Under Title IX, campus proceedings must be "equitable" to allow both parties to present their case. Such lower due-process standards are not controversial. Courts routinely uphold them as in Osteen v. Henley (1993). The removal of Mr. Strange from campus does not prevent him from seeking an education elsewhere; rather it allows the woman to continue her education safely in accordance with the restraining order. Rather than a "war on men," the case is about the growing commitment on campuses to addresses violence against women even when our criminal justice system fails.