To the Editor:
I wanted to take the time to respond to Joseph Cohn’s “Campus is a Poor Court for Students Facing Sexual Misconduct Charges” (The Chronicle, October 1). While I agree with the general concern about allowing institutions of higher education to create their own systems of due process, I do not agree with an example that requests more inclusivity for perpetrators of sexual misconduct. There should be procedural protections for students, but that is a matter that should be addressed as a whole instead of only with one small aspect that is problematic on a national level.
The idea that the accuser’s claims are a percentage more likely than not should be taken into consideration because of the extremely low reporting numbers on college campuses to being with. Statistics displayed on the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network show that only 46 percent of cases of sexual assaults are reported to the police. Why would you want flexibility with cases regarding sexual harassment and sexual assault? My concern is for the victim or survivor instead of the perpetrator. Showing concern for this policy sounds like it is promoting a predatory atmosphere and does not provide a safe space for those who claim to be victims of sexual misconduct. While I understand the concerns for the practice of believing the lowest level of reporting, I do not see any other way to find evidence-based reasoning for sexual assault and misconduct besides getting information from the victim or survivor.
It appears to me that the complaints are for the judicial-hearing process for student conduct instead of one for specifically sexual misconduct. This is a matter that should be taken seriously and with extreme consideration for student safety.
Mistakes have been made with sexual-misconduct cases, but also with many other cases in different areas. A possible solution is to make transparent processes that show students their right to appeal decisions made in judicial-hearing processes. We go in to disciplinary hearings as opportunities for education over reprimanding students, so there should be different models of practice in place for this new policy that educate students before any situation has time to appear.