It’s been a rough couple days for conservatives who voted for or, at the very least, supported Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton during the 2016 election.
In the wake of his decision to rescind President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) executive order (after a 6-month delay), the President made his position clear—that he would really like to see DACA codified into law by Congress. This is exactly what President Obama would’ve done (and tried to do), but the GOP controlled at least one chamber in Congress for six out of his eight years as POTUS. It’s also a betrayal of a significant portion of Trump’s base, many of whom claimed illegal immigration as their top voting priority.
On top of that, the President struck a deal with Democratic Party leaders Sen. Chuck Schumer and Rep. Nancy Pelosi to tie a 3-month debt limit extension to a bill for Hurricane Harvey relief. There’s even a rumor that Trump and Schumer verbally agreed to pursue a complete repeal of the debt ceiling, a cardinal sin in the eyes of fiscal conservatives. In the wake of these moves by the President, pundits and commentators have recalled this prophetical moment from Ted Cruz (from the good ole days aka the GOP primaries). You know you’re in dire straits when you’re wishing to go back to the more harmonious time of a 16-candidate primary race.
However, one member of the Trump administration had a great day, one that conservatives and all people who respect due process rights can be happy with: Betsy DeVos. The Secretary of Education, who people on the Left decry as a soulless billionaire, announced that the Education Department will be overhauling the Obama administration’s intrusive Title IX guidelines for sexual assault cases on college campuses.
Let’s make things clear right from the jump. Rape is one of, if not, the most evil crimes a human being can commit. I believe rapists deserve nothing but the harshest of punishments—life in solitary confinement or the death penalty. To earn this sentence, alleged rapists must be convicted by a jury of their peers. The rightful due process of law enshrined in the Bill of Rights can never be ignored, especially for people accused of the most heinous crimes.
On college campuses today, people on the Left argue that there exists a pervasive “rape culture,” which is defined by a rampant amount of “toxic masculinity” among male students who feel entitled to have relations with any woman they desire. Blatantly false statistics—such as the absurd claim that 1 in 5 women will be victims of sexual assault during their four years at college—are shared as fact by people with a man-hating agenda (typically people of the Leftist ilk).
There have also been numerous stories of young men who are accused of rape or sexual assault by a female student, after which a speedy, biased “court” from a school’s Title IX office finds the young man guilty and he is suspended or expelled from school. Yet many of these cases have churned out false narratives based on false accusations.
This is where Secretary DeVos’ remarks come in. The core piece of her speech, much to the chagrin of faculty in college Title IX offices, was that due process of law must be restored to cases involving sexual assault accusations on campus. There have been instances when a student is falsely accused or allegations have been stretched from an unsolicited kiss to a full-on violent assault. Yet some school administrations never offer the accused an opportunity to present evidence in support of his (or her, but usually his) innocence.
The best excerpt from the speech came when she said the following:
“Every survivor of sexual misconduct must be taken seriously. Every student accused of sexual misconduct must know that guilt is not predetermined.”
This is great stuff. Though it’s politically incorrect to say it, there are women out there who falsely accuse men of sexual assault. They probably do this for a litany of reasons (attention, payback, memory loss due to alcohol, etc). However, our judicial system has never been a game of “he said-she said.” A young woman’s claim of being sexually assaulted is not grounds for a guilty verdict. Only concrete evidence can do so.
Another important piece of the Secretary’s remarks occurred when she stressed the importance of a clearer, more strictly enforced definition of sexual assault:
“[We need a] more precise in the definition of sexual misconduct…Schools have been compelled by Washington to enforce ambiguous and incredibly broad definitions of assault and harassment.”
This is also a vital piece of the campus “rape culture” debate. As a recent college graduate from a very Greek-life heavy school, I’m no stranger to the drinking-induced promiscuity that pervades the basements of fraternity houses. Obviously actual rape and sexual assault can occur in this environment. However, in order to enforce the law, we must define the law. There’s a big difference between forcibly engaging in sexual behavior while one person yells “STOP” and not quite remembering how you got into the guy from your Econ class’ bed wearing his t-shirt.
Here is a part of a report from NBC News that details exactly what Secretary DeVos is moving us away from:
“The Obama administration issued a 2011 “Dear Colleague” letter from the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights as part of a larger effort to increase schools’ obligations under the federal statute Title IX. That letter issued guidance that called on colleges and universities to increase efforts to investigate and adjudicate allegations of sexual assault under Title IX — or risk losing federal funds.”
There’s little doubt what the Obama Education Department meant by “larger effort to increase schools’ obligation” to more actively prosecute alleged perpetrators of sexual assault—suspend more students, expel more of the accused, reach more guilty verdicts. The “Dear Colleague” letter also allowed sexual assault allegations to be determined through the “preponderance of evidence.” As Elliot Hamilton of The Daily Wire makes clear, this is an absurd way to adjudicate such incidents. It is also why we see stories like the infamous “Rape on Campus,” the incident at the University of Virginia from which Rolling Stone has yet to recover.
It’s high time that this country return to being a nation of citizens who respect our laws. There are countless areas where this principle must be renewed, but I’m willing to accept college campuses as an acceptable place to start (at least for sexual assault cases, perhaps not for free speech).
Betsy DeVos is done letting the federal government tell college Title IX offices that they can conduct kangaroo court sessions and refuse to provide the accused with their constitutionally-protected right to a fair trial. It is refreshing to see a shift in policy coming out of the Trump administration that is actually conservative in nature.
I wish the same could be said for the President Trump himself.
View a recap of Secretary DeVos’ speech below:
Cover image courtesy of CNN