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October 30, 2014

ASHE SCHOW: Insight into how campus sexual assault panels are being ‘trained.’

Much of the focus on campus sexual assault has been on who should handle allegations. Those pushing the idea that the problem is widespread on colleges have demanded training for campus administrators.

If the Obama administration and proponents of certain bills claiming to end or reduce campus sexual assault get their way, the question will then become: “How will campus administrators be trained?”

This is something that should be just as frightening as “yes means yes” laws, or any other bill that doesn’t include due process rights for the accused, because the people being trained to adjudicate charges are not being taught objectivity.

K.C. Johnson — co-author of a book about the Duke Lacrosse rape case — recently discovered a guide for training college administrators in how to handle complaints of sexual assault. The guide was developed in 2012 by women at the University of Pennsylvania — the university’s general counsel, the director of the Office of Student Conduct and a consultant. The document also specifically thanks the input of the university’s Women’s Center.

The guide is meant to be copied and pasted for other schools to use when “training” members of student discipline panels. It flat out says to just replace certain portions of text with information relevant to the school.

The guide includes 17 “tips” for adjudicators. As Johnson notes, ten of these are neutral, but six seem to pressure panelists to vote guilty. The remaining “tip” could be read either way.

Of course, the very first tip is a restatement of the myth that one in five women will experience sexual assault during college.

The most harmful tip, though, is the one claiming that “False allegations of rape are not common.” The source for this claim comes from clinical psychologist David Lisak, who found that over a ten-year period, 5.9 percent of cases at “a major Northeastern university” were deemed to be false allegations. The UPenn guide also notes that “Other reputable research places the rate in the general population between 2% and 10%.”

A 1 in 10 chance of a false accusation is actually large enough that it should give panel members pause, but this guide frames false accusations as a “myth.”

Kangaroo courts. Why would anyone send a kid — especially a son — to institutions that would do this? Would you send a black kid to institutions with disciplinary manuals written by the KKK?