Colleges May Turn Date Rape Allegations Over to Regional Consortia

Irreconcilable Conflicts of Interest, Huge Costs, Fatal Exposures Prompting Change
 
 
There Has to Be a Better Way to Deal With Allegations of Date Rape on Campus
There Has to Be a Better Way to Deal With Allegations of Date Rape on Campus
WASHINGTON - June 1, 2015 - PRLog -- Recent articles in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Chronicle  of Higher Education, Washington Post, Boston Globe  and other leading papers highlight the many problems colleges continue to face now that they have been required by the Department of Education to investigate and adjudicate allegations of date rape on their campuses.

        Colleges, faced with irreconcilable conflicts of interest, over $100 million in costs which are still increasing, inexcusably long delays, and fear of a total cutoff of federal funds or huge judgments in courts, are looking for better ways to handle these allegations.

        One approach finally being seriously considered is to turn the investigations and even the adjudications over to a consortium of many universities in the same city or region which could handle the tasks with the expertise most can't afford to maintain and the impartiality which they cannot possibly achieve, but which is increasingly being demanded of them, says public interest law professor John Banzhaf.

        Banzhaf, widely credited with coming up with a compromise between having such cases handled solely by law enforcement authorities, or, alternatively, by individual institutions of higher learning, notes that the Chronicle of Higher Education recently reported that: "Some college leaders are quietly talking about other alternatives. Could they pool their resources and create regional tribunals — staffed by legal experts — to handle rape allegations?"

        The article, entitled Should Colleges Be Judging Rape?, points out that even Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, who has championed the move to provide more protection for women on campuses, has conceded: "Right now, the process . . . on college campuses serves no one . . . It's a broken system."

        But, as Banzhaf has noted in several publications in which he is cited as a expert. colleges in the same city could pool their resources to establish a private SVU-type consortium funded by many colleges, which would have the resources to employ experienced sex crime investigators who would have none of the inherent conflicts of interests or appearances of impropriety which individual colleges cannot escape.

        Here’s what U.S. News said in an article entitled Is this the Solution to the Campus Rape Conundrum? - Could Universities Share Investigators like a Library Consortium Shares Books,?:  "If there's one thing the anti-campus rape movement and the backlash it's prompted can agree on, it’s that schools have struggled with handling allegations of sexual assault. . . .  To appease the concerns of both victims and the students they accuse . . . John Banzhaf, a public interest law professor at George Washington University – is backing a solution he says would also benefit schools struggling to support the resources required to internally investigate sexual assault."

        U.S. News  continues: “Banzhaf's proposal .  .  . would be to set up an independent organization funded and shared by schools in a geographic area, akin to a consortium of universities that shares everything from library books to teaching staff.  Colleges in a specific area, such as in and around the nation's capital, would pool funding to finance a team of experts fully trained in investigating campus sexual assault. If adjudication is deemed necessary, the schools could refer a case to an independent arbitration panel set up to hear it and mete out punishments. “

        Quoting further from Prof. Banzhaf, the article goes on to say that: "Aside from addressing concerns about competency, Banzhaf contends an independent organization could remove bias – real or perceived – from the process.

'Colleges on the one hand are pushed not to find rape. It can hurt their reputation – who wants to be known as 'Rape U' he said Friday.”

   According to U.S. News, many experts also agree that the idea should be tried, especially since no one seems to be happy with the current system.

        Earlier, the Washington Examiner, in a piece entitled Four Better Ideas to Fight Campus Sexual Assault, included the following: "Banzhaf, a law professor at George Washington University Law School and one of the leading voices on the issue of due process, provided the Examiner an extensive proposal for reforming how colleges handle sexual assault claims.  As for letting colleges and universities handle the cases exclusively, Banzhaf said that sexual assault is too serious an issue. ‘These system[s] are designed primarily to handle minor infractions (e.g., underage drinking, minor mischief, brawls, etc.), which can easily be investigated by campus police . . . because the evidence is usually pretty clear,’ he said. The punishments for these infractions are generally not that severe, Banzhaf said."

        National Public Radio also reported favorably on the idea, saying:  "John Banzhaf, a George Washington University law professor, says schools who use their own staff to decide these cases always will be suspect.  He says it's only slightly better when cases are decided by outside investigators who are hired by schools. An even better idea, Banzhaf says, would be to create a totally independent consortium of professionals to both investigate and judge cases. Under such a program, he says, 'there can be no thought that favoritism is being given because someone is a big athlete or that daddy's a big donor, and the standards will be the same across the board — to me it's a win-win-win for everybody.'"

        When five experts were asked by the New York Times to address the problem of rapes at colleges and universities, Prof Banzhaf suggested the following: "One possible way to assure women effective and sensitive investigations, while protecting men from unfair procedures prompted by federal pressures to convict, might be to have all investigations and adjudications handled not by individual colleges, but by consortia of colleges that could afford to employ experienced sex-crime detectives to impartially investigate all allegations, and panels of retired judges to adjudicate guilt whenever the evidence warrants.”

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Tags:Date Rape, Campus, University, Consortium
Industry:Education, Government
Location:Washington - District of Columbia - United States
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