Universities are ill-equipped to handle sexual assault cases

Sexual assault is a sensitive and serious topic, particularly on college campuses. It involves forcing unwanted sexual activity on others by using threats or taking advantage of people who cannot give consent, such as those under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Should colleges handle sexual assault cases that occur on their property, or should courts handle them? I argue that due to a general lack of sufficient resources, conflicting interests, decreased ability to protect the rights of the accused, and inadequate means to bring justice to victims by holding the guilty accountable, college campuses are not equipped to manage sexual assault investigations.

It’s clear that courts can handle sexual assault cases more efficiently than colleges due to the sheer amount of resources and technologies that they have access to that universities do not. Colleges cannot serve justice to the victim or the accused due to a lack of resources, such as rape kits. The criminal justice system is designed to deal with these situations thoroughly and justly. Universities are meant for knowledge-seeking and sharing, not for passing judgment on behalf of the law. When campuses handle sexual assault cases, they may allow the accused to prosper because they will not be criminally convicted. Universities have numerous day-to-day responsibilities, and adding serious and sensitive crimes such as sexual assault makes it difficult for them to deal with these cases effectively. Universities can potentially handle less serious sexual assault cases, such as groping, but when it becomes an issue of rape, those in the criminal justice system should take over. Courts bring justice to the victim and make them feel safe and secure, while universities often let criminals go free with no punishment. These criminals are then able to roam freely, potentially harming more innocent people who will then become victims.

When universities deal with these issues, they are often more concerned with bad publicity, defunding that follows sexual assault allegations, and keeping the offender anonymous to maintain their reputation. It’s difficult to deal with thousands of students at one time. Universities have no interest in one single student but would rather focus on the institution as a whole. This is unfair for the victim when all the university cares about is its reputation. With courts, the victim is the main and only priority. The justice system does not have to worry about thousands of other people or protecting funding from private sources. The victim’s well-being and security is the main focus of the criminal justice system, as it should be when handling delicate cases such as sexual assault or rape.

Apart from reputation and resource issues, universities are not equipped to handle the rights of the accused in sexual assault cases. Campus regulations against sexual assault are too broad, leaving room for offenders to escape punishment and for the innocent to be unfairly penalized. A student accused of sexual assault on campus must prove that 100% of the encounter was consensual beyond a reasonable doubt, while the person making the claim only has to prove 51% of the evidence for someone to be proven guilty. This imbalance raises questions about equity and fairness in the process. Jed Rubenfeld, a Yale professor, argued that affirmative consent policies are unenforceable, overly broad, and categorically redefine all drunk sex as rape. Additionally, in situations where both parties are incapacitated by drugs and alcohol, it may be difficult to determine what actually happened, making it unfair for one person to be accused without proof.

Courts have the ability to investigate and resolve sexual assault cases more effectively than universities due to their resources, tools, and expertise. Courts use due process, which guarantees the right to an equal and fair trial for both the victim and the accused. When universities handle cases on their own, the accused can often face punishment before being proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Minor sexual assault cases, such as groping, can be handled by the university through disciplinary action. However, more serious cases like rape should be left for the courts to decide.

One example of the courts handling a situation more effectively than a university is the 2007 Duke lacrosse team case. When allegations of gang rape emerged, the university started firing coaches and suspending and expelling players over the accusations. However, when the courts investigated the case, they found out that the woman had not been gang-raped and was falsely accusing innocent people for publicity. Without the intervention of the courts, the innocent players would have had their lives ruined due to false allegations.

While universities have a responsibility to address sexual assault on their campuses, they are not equipped to handle sexual assault cases effectively. The criminal justice system is better equipped to investigate and resolve these cases, and it ensures the right to a fair trial for both the victim and the accused. Universities should focus on creating a safe and supportive environment for survivors of sexual assault, providing resources and support, and working in partnership with law enforcement agencies to investigate and prosecute cases of sexual assault.

Sexual assault cases often fail to provide relief for the victim or respect the rights of the accused when handled by college campuses. The accused student can continue to live on campus and even target other innocent people, while the victim is usually only offered a change in schedule or location to avoid their attacker. If the university does take action, the only punishment they can provide is expulsion, which could allow the abuser to enroll in another school and continue their behavior. A tragic example of this is the case of V. Silva, who sexually assaulted six women at three different universities due to poor communication between the schools. If the case was handled by the courts, authorities could easily communicate through jurisdictions and prevent the offender from reoffending, making the victim feel safe and secure.

Allowing the courts to handle sexual assault cases not only protects the victim, but also the general public from potential future attacks. The courts can truly punish the offender and bring justice to the victim, while also protecting those who may have been falsely accused. It is necessary to prevent people like Silva from being able to freely walk around in public and harm others. The safety of innocent people and the future generations depends on keeping communities free from abusers.

The United States has always been guided by the moral value of freedom, with a premise of “innocent until proven guilty.” Universities that handle sexual assault cases ultimately fail both the accused and the victim, as well as the public. The criminal justice system has been functioning for over 200 years with the purpose of bringing justice to the victims, making it crucial for the system to take control of sexual assault cases in order to ensure the safety of college campuses and the general public.

Why universities should decide sexual assault cases

Approximately 20% of women and 7% of men experience rape or sexual assault while attending college, but only 20% of these incidents are reported to law enforcement. This gap in reporting represents a significant issue, not only in terms of accountability but also in the protection of college students through law enforcement. However, Title IX in the Education Amendments of 1972 grants and expects colleges to combat sexual discrimination, gender inequality, and other forms of violence or misconduct. This amendment prohibits discrimination based on sex in any educational program that receives federal assistance, making it applicable to sexual assault, which perpetuates gender inequality. Thus, if a university wishes to maintain its federal funding, it is the university’s responsibility to prevent and respond to reports of sexual violence. Since sexual violence can impact someone’s access to education, holding perpetrators accountable on all levels is crucial for the community and victims of sexual assault. Therefore, universities should be authorized to handle sexual assault cases.

Regarding accountability for cases of sexual assault, it is essential to acknowledge the extensive amount of time that criminal trials take. Many cases go on for years before a verdict is reached, and even after a lengthy trial, only one-fifth of sexual assault cases lead to prosecution. According to Know Your IX, “even survivors who report to the police are often abandoned by the system. Only a quarter of all reported rapes lead to an arrest, only a fifth lead to prosecution, and only half of those prosecutions result in felony convictions.” Many survivors of sexual assault are hesitant to involve law enforcement due to fear of skepticism or judgment from officers. Others are discouraged from contacting law enforcement due to concerns about retaliation from the assailant, which is intensified by the fact that only three out of every 100 assailants are imprisoned. University-controlled civil procedures can be an alternative method of pursuing justice and establishing safety on college campuses.

Through Title IX regulations, universities have a unique opportunity to assist survivors and create a safer campus environment. This alternative procedure can be used for smaller infractions as well. Another common obstacle to reporting sexual assault is not feeling validated as a victim. Not every sexual assault case is rape or even violent, but everyone deserves to be heard and protected. Police departments often lack the resources to investigate every infraction, such as harassment, crude jokes, or stalking. These cases, which may not rise to the level of criminal conduct, demonstrate the effectiveness and necessity of university civil operations. Additionally, not all states have laws that cover sexual violence from all angles. Many states have laws that exclude men from being victims altogether or that do not include same-sex encounters. For some victims, their university is the only way to obtain justice because disciplinary action can be taken through the university even when there is insufficient evidence to pursue criminal action.

There is a common misconception that Title IX allows universities to act as the law. However, this is far from the truth. Universities and law enforcement can work simultaneously on cases; filing through Title IX does not prevent someone from taking legal action as well. Universities act as a supplemental form of justice for everyone, including those who wish to involve law enforcement and those who do not. As the article Why schools handle sexual violence reports explains, “This isn’t a replacement for reporting to the police; it’s a parallel option for survivors based on civil rights – rather than criminal – law.” Schools should not wait for the conclusion of a criminal trial to begin their investigation. University civil cases for sexual assault work as an additional opportunity to prioritize safety on campuses. This can allow victims to feel safe even in the midst of a criminal trial.

Despite the beneficial aspects of universities deciding on sexual assault cases, there is significant opposition as well. Nearly every aspect of Title IX has been debated, particularly regarding sexual assault. Some argue that Title IX should not be applicable to sexual assault cases at all, questioning whether sexual assault is discriminatory in nature. Nancy Gertner counters this argument by stating, “Sexual misconduct impairs a woman’s ability to function as an equal in an academic environment and, by extension, menaces all women” (2015). One major issue with universities deciding on sexual assault cases is the investigative process. Critics contend that the new policies are of questionable constitutionality and have turned campus sexual assault hearings into “kangaroo courts” that ignore the accused’s due process rights to obtain easy convictions. This question of constitutionality arises from the lack of due process and concrete trial policy seen in campus sexual assault hearings. According to the 2011 guidance, the civil trials that universities hold are not substantial enough to warrant due process because they will never result in incarceration. Therefore, concerns about unconstitutionality are not valid.

It is true that trials, hearings, and investigations held by universities are not perfect. They can result in “reports of false charges, biased proceedings, and due process violations” (Gertner, 2015), but all of these concerns also occur in some criminal trials. Instead of not allowing universities to decide on sexual assault cases, options exist to make the process more regulated and transparent to reduce negative outcomes. Improving federal enforcement of Title IX so schools actually follow legal requirements can be a viable solution to reduce complaints about the process of Title IX hearings.

In general, nothing is perfect, and Title IX is no exception. However, Title IX was created as a safeguard to reduce discrimination and address campus safety concerns for students and staff members. It has proven useful in allowing victims of sexual assault further protections that do not involve the uncertainty and length of a criminal trial. The criminal justice system also receives constant backlash for how they handle sexual assault reports and investigations. Therefore, uncertainties surrounding Title IX should be further investigated as a means to improve the amendment and its implementation. The decision for civil protection can be used with or in the absence of a criminal investigation and trial. Universities deciding on sexual assault cases allows for the victim’s needs to be fully assessed and can provide safety in a timely manner compared to criminal trials. Not requiring or allowing universities to decide on sexual assault cases eliminates an additional layer of protection, safety, and accountability for victims of sexual assault.

Is it possible to find a balance between reducing unnecessary traffic stops and ensuring public safety through traffic enforcement?

American roads have become deadlier than before the pandemic, and many are attributing this to a decrease in policing after the George Floyd protests of 2020. According to the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA), the fatality rate, which is deaths per million miles traveled, is about 18% higher than in 2019. In contrast, other Western countries did not experience the same sustained increase in traffic deaths.

Jonathan Adkins, CEO of the GHSA, believes that the decrease in policing led to many people driving dangerously because they thought they could get away with it. He notes that there is not enough enforcement on the roads, and many police officers are hesitant to write tickets.

Seattle police officer Carol Cummings, who requested traffic stops data from the city, found that traffic citations by police were down about 86% compared to 2019. The Seattle Police Chief, Adrian Diaz, explains that this is due to staffing levels and call loads. His department lost hundreds of officers after the George Floyd protests of 2020, and he had to cut dedicated traffic details.

Susan Nembhard, a research associate with the Urban Institute, believes that traffic stops can be dangerous interactions, particularly for people of color and specifically Black people. She has argued for limiting those stops. As a result, Philadelphia, Minneapolis, and even the state of Virginia have adopted formal policies limiting traffic stops for minor violations. Seattle has also instructed officers not to pull cars over for certain non-moving violations, such as expired license tags and obstructions hanging from the rear-view mirror.

While these new policies reduce the number of contacts between police and citizens, some believe that they have also reduced drivers’ impression that they’ll be stopped for more serious violations, such as running red lights. However, Adkins says that the Governors Highway Safety Association believes in equitable enforcement and could accept restrictions on stops for technical violations, as long as drivers are still stopped when they’re doing something dangerous. Cummings believes that many drivers follow the law because they know it makes sense, but some people drive dangerously, and without enough enforcement on the roads, they are the ones putting themselves and others at risk.

Is it possible to find a balance between reducing unnecessary traffic stops and ensuring public safety through traffic enforcement? The decrease in traffic stops for minor violations may have unintended consequences, such as drivers feeling that they can get away with more serious violations, and ultimately making the roads more dangerous. On the other hand, limiting these stops could also help reduce the number of dangerous interactions between police and citizens, particularly for people of color. Striking a balance between equitable enforcement and public safety is crucial to improving road safety in the United States.

Is more money the solution to the police staffing crisis?

Police departments across the United States are experiencing chronic understaffing as a result of retirements, resignations, and a reduction in hires. According to a recent PERF survey of 182 law enforcement agencies, police departments have seen 47% more resignations and 19% more retirements in 2022 than they did in 2019, despite recruiting more officers than in 2020. The resulting shortage may result in departments hiring fewer and less qualified candidates, leaving fewer officers available to respond to emergencies. External scrutiny and reputational harm to the profession have reduced the number of people willing to become police officers. Still, some experts suggest that the reduced applicant pool could have a net positive effect by restricting it to candidates who are willing to address the challenges of modern policing.

Cleveland police

However, the shortage of officers has led to bidding wars between departments, with wealthier departments often winning out. Some police departments have changed their internal policies, while others have eliminated services, units, or positions due to the inability to staff their departments adequately. The cost of hiring qualified candidates creates a significant problem for departments with limited budgets. This situation has led to police forces becoming “second-chance departments” as they try to hire more attainable officers seeking a second chance after leaving or being fired by other departments.

Some people have suggested that solving the police staffing crisis, especially in urban areas, requires more spending. They say that increases in salaries and benefits of their officers will make the profession more attractive to qualified candidates. This could include signing bonuses, healthcare benefits, and retirement plans. They also promote Investing in education and training to ensure that they are equipped with the necessary skills to address modern policing challenges effectively. This could include training in de-escalation techniques, implicit bias, and mental health response.

But will more money make policing better? On a per-capita basis, the United States spends more money on law enforcement and criminal justice than similar Western nations. According to a report by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the United States spends significantly more on law enforcement and criminal justice than other high-income countries. In 2019, the United States spent $1,345 per capita on law enforcement and criminal justice, compared to an average of $374 among OECD countries. This spending includes not only police departments but also corrections, courts, and other criminal justice services. Vastly outspending our peers, you would expect that we would have the most professional police officers and the lowest crime rates. And yet…

Greensboro police chief presents counterintuitive plan to cut officer positions to help bolster the department

Greensboro Police Chief John Thompson says the department is down 115 sworn officers. Because of the staffing shortage, they have to cut back on the services his department offers the community, which is something the city can’t afford to do with the recurring violence plaguing the city.

Part of the problem, Thompson says, is that the Greensboro Police Department is losing officers to nearby cities like Burlington that are able to pay more. The chief says he has a plan, but it may sound counterintuitive.

“What I am going to ask is that the council reduce my authorized strength by 30 positions,” Thompson said. “I am not a math guy, but I am pretty good with numbers. That would roughly equate to about $2 million dollars.”

Those funds could then go toward essentially giving $3,000 raises to staff across the board.

Full story: Greensboro police chief presents counterintuitive plan to cut officer positions to help bolster the department

Park Police body-cam footage shows officer shooting Dalaneo Martin – The Washington Post

U.S. Park Police on Tuesday released body-cam footage showing an officer fatally shooting a 17-year-old last month after the officer climbed into the back of a vehicle to detain the teen and was still inside when he drove away.

The officer, from the back seat of the vehicle, asks Dalaneo Martin to stop over the span of about 13 seconds, then draws his gun and says, “Stop, stop, or I’ll shoot,” the footage shows. Barely a second later, he fires what sounds like five shots at Martin’s back.

The gruesome footage, along with video from body cameras worn by D.C. police officers on the scene, adds significant details to the public’s understanding of the March 18 encounter — revealing not only the moment Martin was shot, but also officers strategizing for how to take him into custody as he sat, apparently asleep, in the front seat of a vehicle they believed to be stolen. Before officers embark on a plan to stealthily access the vehicle and restrain the teen, one D.C. police officer tells the group, “If he takes off, just let him go,” the footage shows.

Full story: Park Police body-cam footage shows officer shooting Dalaneo Martin – The Washington Post