The worst, or maybe the next worst, thing the President can do

 

A few days back, I wrote an Editorial that said the worst thing President Trump can do is turn DACA over to a Congress that has not passed one single piece of meaningful legislation (except the Affordable Care Act) in 12 years.

I think I have run up on a close second. The next-worst - since deportation of children is “worst” but it’s hard to quantify government-inflicted misery - would be for President Trump to allow his Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos to end the protection of female college, and high school-elementary school, students against campus rape under Title IX. The legislation is known for making college sports an “even playing field,” and it has led to an explosion of women’s athletics throughout the nation. This has translated into Olympic victory and an improved national pride in our Olympic athletes of both genders. Title IX went “too far,” some critics say, because colleges in order to better balance men-women athletics, cut men’s teams to add to women’s teams. Those situations have happened, but after 45 years, things seem to have stabilized. College football, a male-dominated sport, still reigns so everybody’s happy.

What Title IX has done now is give the federal government a way to stop colleges and universities from being the “happy hunting grounds” of male predators. Evidence is undisputed - before Title IX enforcement, rape was out of control on college campuses. Some men - it’s still overwhelming men accused of sexual assault - have been unfairly accused. They had their audience before Secretary DeVos on Thursday, including a group called the “National Coalition for Men Carolinas” (2 students, 2 parents meeting with DeVos). The Secretary had three listening sessions, each 90 minutes, to hear from “all sides” of the Title IX sexual assault prevention question. Some critics of the enforcement say it’s just easier for colleges to find all men accused of sex crimes guilty, than to risk a review by the federal government.

Make no mistake, if Secretary DeVos leads the Trump Administration’s roll-back of these protections, that “fear” of government intrusion will disappear, and there will be more rapes.

The Washington Post did an excellent explanation of these issues. It says, in part, “‘We’re not interested in getting rid of civil rights,’ said Cynthia Garrett, co-president of Families Advocating for Campus Equality (FACE), a group founded by three mothers who said their sons were falsely accused of sexual misconduct on campus. ‘What we do oppose,’ she said, is the Education Department’s ‘coercive and punitive attitude toward schools, because we believe it drove schools to decide that it was easier to find a student guilty and there would be fewer repercussions than finding a student not responsible.’”

I’m not here to debate the falsely accused issue. Colleges and universities, and courts, can work those out on their own. What I am here to say, as the father of two women who have graduated from college, is this: Everything we can do to protect people fearful of sexual assault and domestic violence (including date rape) needs to be done. Otherwise, nobody is going to want to go to college. Maybe that’s the Department of Education’s end goal - things certainly have changed there since Dick Riley was the secretary.

There is a movement afoot to get colleges out of the sexual assault investigation business. Supporters for stronger assault prevention are fighting against that. The Washington Post article says, “Survivors and their allies oppose forcing students to go through the criminal justice system, arguing that it exists for an entirely different purpose from campus due process proceedings, which are meant to ensure that students have access to education — not to put anyone in jail. ‘Many survivors, they just want to finish their degree and take a class without someone who raped them,’ (End Rape on Campus’ Jess) Davidson said. ‘They shouldn’t have to go through a five-year trial before that can happen.’”

I certainly agree.

 

(Vic MacDonald is Editor of The Clinton Chronicle. Contact him at 833-1900 or e-mail: sports@clintonchronicle.net)

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