The Witch Trials of Title IX
Recently, we have heard of of new guidelines for the implementation of Title IX. There appear to be quite a few new changes, and I can’t speak to all of them. Some of them might be positive. But there is one I definitely cannot support–the suggestion that an accused student should be able to cross-examine his alleged victim.
Current standards allow for victims to give testimony separately to the disciplinary board, which means they do not have to be in the same room with their attacker. The person who will make the judgment can cross-examine the person, and they can do the same in a separate session with the accused. This allows the board to seek the truth without traumatizing the victim.
This proposed rule would make victims have to submit to be questioned directly by that person. While it allows for the cross-examination to take place via video in different rooms, it is no less direct. Many victims will not want to do this, to the point that they will choose not to bring a claim forward because they worry the process will be too traumatic. The few who do may risk being accused of bringing forward a false accusation–because if they were really that traumatized, they wouldn’t have been able to do it, right? It sounds incredible, but I’ve heard such accusations used against rape victims before: oh, she claimed she was too traumatized to handle being in the same room with her attacker, but look, she was in the same room several times! She must be a liar.
In the end, it’s like a witch trial. If she floats, she’s a witch! But if she sinks and drowns, poor innocent dear. It’s the same for rape victims: the real victims are so traumatized they can’t face the trial process and drop out of school. Because if they don’t, if they have the guts to show up at a trial to be cross-examined by the person who violated them–well, then how can they claim that having their rapist on campus is depriving them of equal access to an education? If they can get questioned by their rapist, in the same room, on the subject of the time they were raped, well, what’s stopping them from being in class with them?
I can’t think of any purpose for such a rule except to discourage victims from coming forward. It’s not going to discourage false accusations, because a woman who wasn’t raped isn’t going to be too traumatized to show up. Only those who are suffering the most will be affected.
These proposed changes show a weakness in Title IX: it all depends on the people at the top, and good policies can be revoked by executive fiat. The one bright spot in all this is that my own alma mater, Christendom College, doesn’t follow Title IX since they don’t accept federal financial aid. Its claim has been that Title IX is a “bare minimum standard,” and that they can do better. As for now, we are still waiting to hear what their improvements are over past and present Title IX.