Dem. Senators Push DeVos to Commit to Debunked Campus 'Rape Culture' Narrative
On Tuesday night, two Democrat senators pressured President-elect Donald Trump's nominee for secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, to embrace a debunked college campus "rape culture" narrative on sexual assault. Specifically, they asked her to commit to enforcing Title IX regulations which have deprived hundreds of students of their due process rights under the Constitution.
The issue of campus sexual assault is more complicated than Democrats like to admit. While such assault is a heinous crime and should be dealt with seriously, every case should be examined on its own merits, without preconceived judgements on either side. Much of the rhetoric involving such cases is one-sided, and it pressures colleges to find the accused guilty, even in the face of exonerating evidence.
The Obama administration has enshrined in law a false narrative that destroys lives, and Democrats defend it in the name of prosecuting sexual assault. Here is U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D, Washington state), questioning DeVos:
Murray: President-elect Trump was recored bragging about kissing and groping and trying to have sex with women without their consent. ... If this behavior, kissing and touching women and girls without their consent, happened in a school, would you consider it sexual assault?
Murray: One in five young women will experience sexual assault while in college. ... Can you promise them and me that you will not, as has been in the press, consider "reining in the Office for Civil Rights" in the Department's work to protect students from campus sexual assault?
There are multiple problems with Murray's remarks and question.
First, by comparing alleged campus perpetrators of sexual assault to Donald Trump, Murray set up a false analogy. Trump may indeed be guilty of sexual assault — he has, after all, bragged about it — but that does not mean that every college student who is accused should be assumed guilty. In case after case, evidence exonerating the accused has been found, but colleges disregard it. Why?
Second, as K.C. Johnson and Stuart Taylor, Jr. explain in their forthcoming book The Campus Rape Frenzy: The Attack on Due Process at America's Universities, the "one in five" statistic is extremely misleading. The Department of Education indicated that approximately 10 million women are enrolled (full- or part-time) as undergraduates. The one-in-five figure would mean that 2 million of them would be sexually assaulted while at college, which means between 400,000 and 500,000 sexual assaults per year.
The 1990 Clery Act requires all colleges to report the total number of student sexual assaults. Between the years 2012 and 2014, universities reported an annual average of between 4,558 and 5,335 sexual assaults. While sexual assaults are likely to be underreported, that is a ratio of almost 100 to 1.