The issue of sexual assault on the college campus continues to have an extended (and warranted) moment in the spotlight. Late last month, California became the first state to pass an affirmative consent law, which makes "yes means yes" the law of the land on most college campuses there.
On the other coast, students at Columbia University kicked off the year by bringing mattresses to a campus demonstration to protest the administration's perceived failure to eject an alleged rapist from the school. The protest, inspired by a senior's thesis project about her battle with the school over its sexual assault policies, made national headlines.
But as schools draft new policies in response to a White House task force on campus assault, school administrators may be overcorrecting. Take Harvard University's new policy, which was introduced in July and rests on a "preponderance of evidence" benchmark in determining the outcome of sexual assault cases.
Over at The New Republic, Judith Shulevitz explains:
Guilt or innocence hinges on a “preponderance” of evidence, a far lower standard than the “beyond a reasonable doubt” test that prevails in courtrooms. At Harvard, the Title IX enforcement office acts as cop, prosecutor, judge, and jury—and also hears the appeals.
On Tuesday evening, Harvard's new policy was decried in an open letter signed by 28 current and former professors from Harvard Law School.