Duke's Sexual Misconduct Rules Make Students 'Unwitting Rapists'

Candace de Russy

  • Article
  • April 08, 2010

Duke University, according to FIRE, has adopted a new "sexual misconduct" policy that can find a student guilty of non-consensual sex merely because he or she is considered "powerful" on campus. The policy -- which FIRE describes as "vastly overbroad, illogical, impractical, but also insane" --

  • claims that "perceived power differentials may create an unintentional atmosphere of coercion"
  • transforms students of both sexes into unwitting rapists simply because of the "atmosphere" or because one or more students are "intoxicated," no matter the degree, and
  • establishes unfair rules for judging sexual misconduct accusations.

Rape and sexual misconduct are grave offenses. But what's wrong with Duke that it can't rationally address them? As FIRE's Robert Shibley sensibly concludes, "students deserve a policy under which true offenders will be punished but the innocent have nothing to fear."

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