OCR Harassment Guidelines And Campus Policies: The Latest

Glenn Ricketts

Have a look at this piece in yesteday's IHE.  It describes some new policies at UNC Chapel Hill, implemeted in response to the new procedures mandated last year by the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) in the US Department of Education.  NAS, along with FIRE and the AAUP, among others,  has opposed the new rules from the outset, and there's unfortunately no reason to change that stance.  OCR, as we noted here recently, has simply stonewalled the legitimate concerns that its new regime has prompted.

So what about these new rules at UNC?  At first glance, they seem to suggest something commendable: cases involving sexual misconduct will no longer be adjuducated by the University's longstanding student Honor Court, a 25-member body which has handled them up to this point.  Well, that makes sense doesn't it?  After all, students really shouldn't be dealing with big stuff like sexual assault.  That's something for local law enforcement agencies and criminal courts, you'd think.

But keep reading, and you'll see where this seems to be going.  The problem with the cops or with the previous in-house system, as several people interviewed in the article complain, is that it's so difficult to find anyone guilty!  As such, "most perpetrators" simply get off scott-free.  "Perpetrators?"  Hold on: isn't that what a trial is supposed to determine, after giving the accused the presumption of innocence?  You get the drift.

Read on, though, since there's a sprited, even outraged comments thread that indicates the growing number out there who aren't walking away from this.  There's some particularly good observations by FIRE's VP Bob Shibley.  But, oh do we ever have a long way to go with this one.



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