Why Expelling Students Accused of Sexual Assault Isn't the Answer | NYT Opinion

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Published on 11 Jul 2019, 20:00
In the video Op-Ed above, Hanna Stotland argues that simply expelling college students accused of sexual assault is a misguided response to what is essentially a public health problem. An independent educational consultant, Ms. Stotland specializes in advising students who have “hit some kind of catastrophe in their educational past”: Whether suspended, sent to rehab or expelled for sexual misconduct, students go to her to get help in transferring to new schools or applying to graduate programs.

“I’m seeing a large number of cases in an intimate way that most people never get to see,” she said. These cases, she added, “don’t look the way many people imagine.”

Over the past decade, student survivors of sexual assault have pushed universities to improve their sexual assault prevention and response mechanisms. During the Obama administration, dozens of institutions were investigated for violating Title IX, the law that prohibits sex discrimination in federally funded institutions. Last November, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos proposed changing Obama-era guidelines on Title IX to an approach that emphasizes the rights of the accused to due process.

While student activists have denounced this proposal, Ms. Stotland says the current system does not bring about real justice. “In a context where the school is going to be issuing life-changing discipline if it finds that there was a sexual assault, the school should not just be taking anybody’s word for it,” she said. “Justice needs to seek the truth without bias and evaluate all the evidence.” And that, she added, “is a gray process.”

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