Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock for the last week, you’ve no doubt read, seen, or at least heard about this Rolling Stone exposé detailing one young woman’s horrifying experience of gang rape at a UVA fraternity house. I recommend reading the article on an empty stomach, because the story will likely sicken you. It’s the sort of thing you read and wonder how one group of human beings could ever do that to another, particularly human beings who are smart enough and dedicated enough to be attending a high profile university. The focus of the article, however, is primarily on UVA’s and many other universities’ mishandling of rape cases and how the federal government is pressuring them to do a better job or face losing federal funding. While I don’t disagree with the sentiment, I fail to see how that’s really the big deal.
If you asked a mother and father to adjudicate an incest allegation between two of their children, would you expect an equitable resolution and a satisfactory outcome? For those who couldn’t read my sarcastic tone, the answer is no, of course not. You don’t ask strongly interested parties to adjudicate anything; generally, you ask them to recuse themselves in favor of neutral parties, preferably those with expertise in criminal and legal matters. University administrators and classmates are neither. Like the aforementioned parents, they are highly biased and ill-equipped. And understand, I say this as much for the accused as the accusers. An allegation of rape is not something that should be decided by a bunch of overachieving poli sci majors. Even if the case never makes it to the formal legal system, should students be allowed to be labeled as rapists by a kangaroo court? And potentially be expelled, lose scholarships, or be thrown off athletic teams? Such a ruling could unfairly effect the student’s entire life, if, in fact, they’re not guilty. I’m sorry, but the college honor council should not be imbued with that kind of power.
Sexual assault is a serious and despicable criminal act, not an honor code violation. In the FBI’s violent crime statistics, rape is second only to murder and non-negligent manslaughter. Plagiarism and stealing the rival team’s mascot don’t make the list. If a victim chooses to come forward, his or her case should be brought to the police, not the university cheerleading squad. To quote Robby Soave from his article in Reason magazine, “Cheating and raping are not related things. The former is an academic infraction deserving an academic punishment, like expulsion; the latter is a violent crime deserving a rigorous police investigation.” Universities don’t need to get better at handling rape allegations; they need to get the hell out of the way.
via: The UVA Rapists Should Not Have Been Expelled – Reason.com
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