Miltenberg: “It’s On Us PA Campaign Should Address Both Sides of Sexual Assault Issue,” Medium


Recently, Governor Wolf announced nearly $1 million in grants to Pennsylvania colleges and universities for initiatives to combat campus sexual assault as part of the “It’s on Us PA” campaign, founded by former President Barack Obama. While Governor Wolf’s intentions to prevent sexual violence on campus are certainly commendable, it’s also important to recognize the deeply-flawed Title IX policies that currently exist on college campuses. The “It’s on Us PA” campaign, which also allows individuals to report acts of misconduct on campus anonymously, does not take into account the broken system for sexual misconduct investigations. One sexual assault is too many, and so is one wrongfully expelled male student. Having represented more than 300 students on college campuses across the country — including students at Penn State, Lehigh, Franklin and Marshall, and the University of Pennsylvania — I have seen firsthand how wrongfully accused male students are being unfairly punished, with no opportunity to defend themselves. In 2011, the Obama Administration issued a policy directive known as the “Dear Colleague” letter to every college and university receiving federal funding, addressing their obligation under Title IX to respond to claims of sexual harassment and sexual violence. While the Obama Administration was right to insist that more serious attention be paid to the issue, the Department’s directives in the “Dear Colleague” letter have drastically overreached with disastrous consequences for accused male students who have been denied their basic right to due process. Unfortunately, the Dear Colleague letter tramples on the civil and due process rights of accused students. These Title IX policy directives — which have come under fire by constitutional law scholars, college professors, and elected officials alike — aggressively dictate how colleges and universities handle sexual assault and sexual harassment on campus by laying out specific requirements that schools must adopt and utilize. These “guilty until proven innocent” directives have caused schools to brand more male students rapists based on the excessively low “preponderance of the evidence” standard — as opposed to the “clear and convincing evidence” standard traditionally used in college disciplinary hearings.

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