Cases like the Duke Lacrosse case have brought some light to the surprising lack of due process that exists when charges of sexual harassment or assault are brought on a college campus. Trevor Burrus at the Cato Institute discusses this in light of two occurrences: an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal (Pay Site) which tells the tale of a student found guilty of sexual assault by a university even as his accuser was charged with lying to police about the incident, and and order from the Department of Education that effectively lessens the burden of proof required by universities to reach a guilty finding.
The new guidelines threaten to turn the campus courts at some of our most august institutions into “kangaroo courts” that ignore basic rights of the accused, such as the right to confront accusers. Most disturbingly, universities are now commanded to use a “preponderance of the evidence” standard in adjudicating claims of sexual assault, including rape. The preponderance of the evidence standard is little more than a hunch, and is often described as a simple 50.01% probability of guilt.
Universities that do not adopt these new guidelines may be stripped of federal funding.