September 18, 2021

UNIVERSITIES HAVE NO BUSINESS DECIDING WHETHER RELATIONSHIPS ARE CONSENSUAL OR NOT: 2 Women Dated for Years. After It Ended, JMU Said Their Relationship Was ‘Nonconsensual.’

They dated for two and a half years, living together for much of that time.

The relationship ended badly, causing both women much consternation. Almost a year later, on December 4, 2018, Lese filed a Title IX report with JMU. This report then became the basis of a sexual misconduct complaint, and Reid was accused of engaging in a nonconsensual relationship with her former girlfriend.

JMU suspended Reid from teaching. Then, following a hearing where Reid was given no meaningful opportunity to rebut the allegations against her—Lese did not even attend it—the university determined she had violated an aspect of the sexual misconduct policy that had not even existed during the time period in question.

The finding made it impossible for Reid to continue working at JMU; indeed, she had already been denied a promotion and barred from campus. She was hired at another university, sold her house, and moved—but when her new employer found out about the sexual misconduct finding, the offer was abruptly rescinded.

“I was let go a week before the semester began,” she says.

Reid is now suing JMU, as well as the U.S. Department of Education, which pushed colleges and universities to adopt unfair sexual misconduct adjudication policies during the years of Barack Obama’s presidency. The lawsuit comes at a time of profound national uncertainty about the trajectory of federal education policy as it relates to Title IX, the statute that prohibits sex and gender-based discrimination in schools. Under Obama, the Education Department instructed campus officials to vigorously investigate sexual misconduct, define it broadly, and give accused persons very little recourse. Then, under former President Donald Trump, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos rescinded the Obama-era policies and made basic fairness a central component of Title IX adjudication.

Now Joe Biden is president, and he has selected Catherine Lhamon as his Title IX enforcer. The name should be familiar to readers: Lhamon had the exact same job during the Obama era. As assistant secretary for civil rights within the Education Department, she enforced the policies that prompted hundreds of students and professors to sue their institutions after being removed from campus following the sorts of ordeals that Reid faced. No single government official bears more responsibility than Lhamon, and Biden would like to give her back her old job.

Complaints of sexual assault should be referred to law enforcement. Universities lack the expertise, and the moral stature, to resolve this sort of thing on their own.

Also, I disagree with the claim that these policies are the product of “good intentions.”

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