02/15/2014 Jonathan Taylor

Analysis of the administrative mindset in Inside Higher Ed article reveals the horror of campus kangaroo courts

“There can be no doubt that behind all the actions of this court of justice, that is to say in my case, behind my arrest and today’s interrogation, there is a great organization at work. An organization which not only employs corrupt warders, oafish Inspectors, and Examining Magistrates, but also has at its disposal a judicial hierarchy of high, indeed of the highest rank, with an indispensable and numerous retinue of servants, clerks, police, and other assistants.

And the significance of this great organization, gentlemen? It consists in this: that innocent persons are accused of guilt, and senseless proceedings are put in motion against them.”

– Franz Kafka, The Trial

Inside Higher Ed has an interesting article which sheds some light on the mindset, competence, and moral quality of administrators in campus sex-assault hearings. Here you will find a decent primer on the weasel-words administrators use to rationalize what would otherwise be called a horrible injustice.

As usual, I’ll provide an analysis with interspersed comments. Let’s begin:

Since the U.S. Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights [OCR] affirmed in its 2011 “Dear Colleague” letter that colleges should use a lower standard of evidence than criminal courts when adjudicating sexual assault complaints, many civil liberties advocates, lawyers and even politicians have accused the federal government of trampling students’ right to due process.

Stop by the Rights and Protections section under the Know the Issues>Issues tab in the above menu for more about these unjust policies, if you are unfamiliar with them.

Campus officials, for the most part, have stressed that adjudication is an educational experience, where students are found “responsible” rather than “guilty,” so their processes should be different from the criminal justice system’s.

It’s interesting that administrators compare what is little less than a bureaucratic lynching to an educational experience. Being wrongly labeled a “rapist” in front of one’s peers is not “educational,” unless you mean to say that it educates him in how incredibly unjust and anti-male these campus kangaroo courts have become.

This has interesting implications that should provoke criticism from both Feminists and men’s advocates. Administrators say they are not adjudicating criminal behavior, but just “misconduct.” Feminists online and elsewhere have taken this to mean that schools trivialize sexual assault – a felony offense – by framing it simply as “misconduct.” And there is, I think, something reasonable to this claim.

But this framing – of sexual assault as “misconduct” – also has interesting implications for due process. Campus administrative hearings are not criminal courts. They do not have anywhere near the level of due process and fair procedure that the legal system – which itself has been known to get it wrong on due process on far too many occasions (as the authors of Community of the Wrongly Accused have aptly demonstrated) – does.

As we just saw in the quote from Inside Higher Ed, administrators then make the excuse that they don’t have to provide due process and fair procedure because they are not adjudicating criminal behavior, but “misconduct.” This is despite the fact that they know full well that the wider community – including the students’ peers – will look upon those found “guilty” (which administrators downplay by instead calling it “finding a student in violation”) as rapists.

Unfortunately, many students will naively assume that since the university is full of responsible, intelligent people whose livelihood is predicated upon critical thinking and the pursuit of truth rather than fashionable politics (I too used to be among them, but have learned better since) that the university’s pronouncements are more credible than they really are.


But during a two-day “dialogue” about sexual misconduct and college students here at the University of Virginia, it was clear that discontent over OCR’s decree — not to mention the question of whether colleges should even be adjudicating these cases in the first place — is alive and well within academe.

Indeed, contrary to what many men’s advocates may assume, discontent (though not dissent) with the April 4 letter is alive and well in academia. A while back, Inside Higher Ed even ran a very illuminating article by a frustrated and angry dean of students who said:

A few years ago, the Center for Public Integrity published a report that excoriated that excoriated colleges and universities for their handling of sexual assault cases. It was an absolutely indicting report… unless the reader was, like I am, a student affairs professional who could easily imagine being the one publicly criticized in the report.

Yes, I could imagine it. Not that I believed at that point (or since) that I had mismanaged a sexual assault case, but because the ones I had managed were enormously complex, full of truths, lies, reversals, angry parents, hungry lawyers and empowered supporters.  

This administrator expressed the same discontent that Title IX Coordinator Michele Vieira did in my interview with her: administrators feel they are being forced by the Department of Education to cast judgment upon students when, oftentimes, they do not have enough information regarding the nature of the alleged incident to be making such judgment calls.

The reality, of course, is that administrators are amateurs when it comes to dealing with these kinds of accusations. They have neither the investigative nor prosecutorial power of the criminal justice system, and they know it.

Of course, scorched-earth Feminists, as we have seen, interpret this skepticism and desire for a more nuanced approach as “defending rapists.” In their world everything is black and white, and there are only two types of people: rape victims and rapists. And women never lie – except, of course, when they later retract a rape accusation and say it didn’t happen. Which, Feminists will then say, only happens because The Patriarchy made them do it.

Thankfully, their narrow-mindedness and misandry is losing popularity in the world, thanks to men’s advocates and everyday reasonable people. Returning again to the recent IHE article, we find this statement by a higher ed administrator:

“We’re certainly amateurs if the expectation is that we’re supposed to be courts,” Amherst College President Carolyn (Biddy) Martin said Monday during a panel featuring six college presidents. “We ought not to be amateurs when it comes to education, and to a set of policies, processes and practices that can fairly assess responsibility for a range of things.”

Despite acknowledging administrators’ incredible limitations of accurately finding guilt (which is exactly what they are doing, no matter how much they try to weasel out of it by reframing it as “finding students in violation of the code of conduct”),  Martin supports the practice of schools adjudicating felony accusations and possibly coming to entirely different conclusions than police and courts, saying “We want our campuses to be safe – so we should deal with them.”

The article starts to get worse – much worse – from there:

Part of the reason Title IX requires colleges to adjudicate cases using a “preponderance of evidence” standard, or 50.1 percent certainty, rather than “beyond a reasonable doubt,” is because criminal courts historically have failed to deal with the range of cases that occurred on campuses.

Read between the lines of that statement. It’s essentially saying that many people have adopted the attitude of “if we can’t wreck the lives of young men accused of rape by going through the criminal justice system where there actually are such things as evidentiary standards, we’ll create our own kangaroo courts in another mainstream institution with a laughably low degree of due process and fair procedure and wreck them there.”

This mindset is vindictive at the core. Kangaroo courts should never be something that someone “resorts to.” But that is exactly what is happening, and it is primarily due to the scorched-earth mentality among those who claim to be advocating for “survivors” when what they are really doing is advocating that all accusations – regardless as to whether they are truths or lies – should be resolved by wrecking someone’s life.

It gets worse:

For some in attendance, including Amanda Childress, Sexual Assault Awareness Program coordinator at Dartmouth College, campus policies aren’t going far enough to protect students. “Why could we not expel a student based on an allegation?” Childress asked at the panel

Not suspending, but expelling a student – sending him away forever – based on nothing more than an allegation? I hope I’m reading that wrong and she really means “after an administrative hearing finds him ‘in violation.'” In reality, however, it’s not like there is that much difference anyway given that the “standard” of evidence administrators employ is little more than the toss of a coin…before you factor in money and politics – the hidden rules that are not written down, and which tip the balance in favor of the accuser.

She continues:

“It seems to me that we value fair and equitable processes more than we value the safety of our students. And higher education is not a right. Safety is a right. Higher education is a privilege.”

Fair and equitable procedure is safety. A bureaucracy set up to lynch students and give free passes to false accusers is not safe.

Also, higher education is not a “privilege” when you have paid for it. The university has a contractual obligation to treat its students fairly and equitably. And it should also have such an obligation under Title IX. Unfortunately, as we have seen, pretty much everyone who enforces or creates guidelines to enforce Title IX has a huge blindspot toward men and boys.

If higher education is indeed a privilege as Amanda Childress says, it appears to be a female one.

Jonathan Taylor
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Jonathan Taylor

Jonathan is Title IX For All's founder, editor, web designer, and database developer. Hailing from Texas, he makes a mean red beans n' rice and is always interested to learn new things.
Jonathan Taylor
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About the Author

Jonathan Taylor Jonathan is Title IX For All's founder, editor, web designer, and database developer. Hailing from Texas, he makes a mean red beans n' rice and is always interested to learn new things.

Comments (15)

    • For the first minute of the video in the article you linked, the rape accuser is smiling as she is recounting the horrors of her alleged rape.


      • anise

        (1) No she isn’t. Is that really what you see?

        Look at her mouth when she’s crying. It’s the same.

        (2) Here’s a video of a man recounting the horrors of being in Auschwitz, where his wife, four children and father were murdered by Nazis.

        He’s smiling.

        And here’s a video of a man smiling, then recounting the horrors of having his six-year-old daughter shot.

        Would you say they’re lying?

        • She does indeed appear to be smiling at periodic intervals. It is slight, but it is there.

          No, a smile does not automatically mean someone is lying. Just as a person having bruises doesn’t mean they were assaulted. But it is more consistent with one thing than the other. And possibilities and probabilities, rather than anything absolute, is all we can really determine in these individual cases from our perch here, so long as as are given such little evidence on them.

          The same thing, of course, goes for our friends at Huffington Post College and elsewhere.

  1. Funcuz

    Were it me in one of these kangaroo courts there are two things I would do :
    Firstly I’d call the police. Not on this disgrace of a show a trial (that would be a waste of time) but on myself. You see , I’d want an actual trial with things such as evidence and the like. If I was as completely innocent as I know I would be then I would say “Okay…she says she was raped so why aren’t the police looking into this ? Let’s call them…this is a serious crime. Let’s get them down here right now and get a real trial. Then , when I’m exonerated I’m going to take that declaration of innocence and use it to sue your institution as well as this woman for falsely accusing me and threatening me with expulsion simply for not being able to prove my innocence in a forum where innocence is forbidden.

    Secondly , I’m going to call my local newspaper and get them in there to write about this “trial”. I’m going to make sure that everybody in the room gets his and her name into the public sphere so that said public can decide for itself what sense it makes to allow ideologues to determine guilt or innocence when common sense dictates that they not be allowed within a mile of the proceedings.

    • All that sounds good on the surface but let’s look at how things work in the real world. First, calling the police “on yourself” to request them to open an investigation for a crime that was never committed is probably the surest path for them (the police) not doing so. Why? Because the police respond to someone claiming that a crime was committed (not not committed).

      Ah, but now your possibly thinking, “there you see even the police don’t believe that a crime’s been committed so the university will use that and dismiss the disciplinary case”. WRONG, the university wants you out and off their campus like yesterday so they will run you through their kangaroo court where you will be found guilty thus putting a torpedo with your expressed thought of “when I’m exonerated I’m going to take that declaration of innocence and use it to sue your institution as well as this woman for falsely accusing me”.

      Btw, suing the accuser gets you nothing but at best an admonition by the judge saying to the female accuser “sweetie, you really shouldn’t tell lies to get back at your ex-boyfriend”. Pay all those court and attorney costs for a slap on the wrist. AH, but now maybe you’re thinking “well let’s go after those bastards at the university, after all that’s where the money’s at”. Strike two, why? Because if it is a state funded university it is likely covered by the legal principle of eminent domain, which essentially means that IF the lawsuit isn’t thrown out immediately after you’ve filed (meaning if it survives declaratory judgment), then you’ll have the privilege of likely facing off against the State Attorney General’s representative along with a host of attorneys that the university will have at their disposal.

      Add up the deposition costs, private investigator costs, attorney fees, etc… you’re likely looking at wagering a $60,000 – $100,000 BET (all out of your pocket) that the court not only sides with you, but declares that the actions taken by the university were so unreasonable and egregious as to warrant a financial award for your pain & suffering. Guess how often the court finds that a university’s actions are found to be “unreasonable and egregious” in regard to a disciplinary hearing especially when every university follows the same type of kangaroo court process? LIKE VIRTUALLY NEVER.

      Ok, so lastly now you’re at the “well let’s take it to the court of public opinion, the media”. I won’t even bore you with how the media will look at this but suffice it to say that the accuser will still be portrayed as the victim and you will be branded a rapist or alleged rapist for the rest of your life. Just Google the Duke Lacrosse players case among dozens of others to see the veracity of my statement. Ant THAT’s why these type of cases making it into court are few and very hard to win. Isn’t that feminism ideology and the “war on women” mantra a hoot?

  2. Malcolm James

    Don’t forget that, unlike jury trials, the panel may consist of only a handful of people and no-one can compel students to sit on them. This means that the students who are most likely to volunteer are activists who are predisposed to believe the accuser, whatver the evidence or lack of evidence. A couple of these on a panel of five and the accused is toast. Also, given that ambiguities of most of these cases, the inclusion of a zealot or two who are completely free of any doubts can have a pernicious effect on the remaining members and generate a consensus in favour of the accuser.

    • Well said. Also, many panels (the equivalent of juries in such a case) are required to have an “expert” on campus sex assault issues. These people often have a strong Feminist slant to them.

      At no point is an expert on false accusations required to be a part of the panel. It’s basically engineered to get Feminists a free and easy vote for the guilt of the accuser.

  3. Malcolm James

    If reports about the jury deliberations in the Dave Lee Travis case (a well-known DJ in the UK who was found not guilty of sexual assault) are correct, they might represent jury nullification. The judge instructed them that if they believed the accused they must convict. However, whilst they found the accusers credible (i.e. there was no evidence to suggest that they weren’t), they were uncomfortable about condemning Travis to a long jail sentence with corroborating evidence. Cue calls for abolition of jury trials in these offences on the grounds that juries ‘do not understand the complexities of sexual assault’? Well actually, the issues in these cases are very straightforward. Did the accused fiddle with an uner-age person? If the accuser is an adult, did the accused engage in any form of sexual activity with the accuser and, if so, was there consent (as defined in terms of common-sense rather than feminist dogma)?

    The point is that juries are independent and can reach a decision without having to justify it to anyone and can therefore choose to ignore external political pressures. Colleges don’t and can’t. If they refuse to convict they come under pressure for not taking the problem seriously and being more concerned with their reputation. However, how long will it be, if it’s not happened already, that colleges realise that it harms their reputation more to acquit than to convict? This is like an alcoholic who is afraid to admit the problem, but, once they do, find themselves surrounded by love and offers of help, with friedns saying, ‘thank God you’ve admiited you have a probelm – we’ve known that for ages’.

  4. Hello, All. I enclose a link to my WordPress site; currently, there are 2 texts relating to concerns which many on this forum may share.

    The first text is a draft of a “Charter of Male Student Values and Rights.” In this, I sketch a hypothetical code for the protection of male students, in the gender-biased and post-modern academy. Campus groups might want to use it, or parts of it, in their advocacy work.

    The second is an academic article. This article describes the ways in which Wikipedia’s feminist establishment secretly controls much sensitive content on the Jimmy Wales database. This article was published last year and has attracted a fair bit of attention. My blog contains the Author’s Draft version, with an expanded introduction.
    Site: http://walterbruno.com/
    Cheers and all the best in your very worthy struggles.

    • Follow-up on the above. The site has been attacked, and has temporarily been protected. Further information will follow.


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