I’m at CSICon this weekend, with very limited time for writing. This repost, originally published here, touches on the conversations we continue to have about balancing rights. It seemed a good time to revisit the post.
This weekend, Peter Berkowitz published a piece in the opinion section of The Wall Street Journal that probably ought to raise serious questions about his abilities as a scholar. The Stanford fellow was all up in arms over guidance to federally funded schools and programs on dealing with sexual violence as a civil rights issue under Title IX. In his letter, titled “College Rape Accusations and the Presumption of Male Guilt” and subtitled “Pressured by the Obama administration, universities abandon any pretense of due process in sexual assault cases.”, he wrote:
Our universities impair liberal education not only by what they teach and do not teach in classrooms but also by the illiberal rules they promulgate to regulate speech and conduct outside of class.
The Obama administration has aggravated the problem. On April 4, Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Russlynn Ali, head of the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR), distributed a 19-page “Dear Colleague” letter to “provide recipients with information to assist them in meeting their obligations.”
At the cost of losing federal funding—on which all major institutions of higher education have grown dependent—colleges and universities are obliged under Title IX of the Civil Rights Act (which prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex) to thoroughly investigate all allegations of sexual harassment and sexual assault on campus, including the felony of rape. They are also obliged, according to Ms. Ali, to curtail due process rights of the accused.
Now, of course, it isn’t his opinions on how universities ought to be run that suggests his value as a scholar is limited, but his apparent unwillingness or inability to read the letter he was complaining about. For all his vitriol, it is both a needed and a rather unremarkable document. [Read more…]