When you’re faced with a criminal charge in either the state of the federal courts, you are presumed innocent. In fact, innocent until proven guilty is the cornerstone of the American court system. When you are accused of a Title IX violation, you don’t always have that right extended to you.
A recent report from the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), only around 30% of schools surveyed guaranteed the student a hearing, and only 10% mandated cross-examination in some form. This means that the same universities that decry themselves for being the bastions of civil liberties are, themselves, failing at extending those liberties to their own students.
It’s hard to believe that a student accused selling drugs from his dorm room, hacking the university’s servers, or even murdering the Dean would be granted more rights than those who violated Title IX, yet for many educational institutions, that’s true.
Let last year Education Secretary Besty DeVos proposed a series of reforms to the Title IX process. Cross-examination would be required as would the presumption of innocence.
Whether you like or agree with other proposals from the current administration you would be hard-pressed to disagree with that a student accused of wrong-doing should be allowed to defend themselves. Just because there has been an accusation does not mean that the person is automatically guilty.
Other considerations regarding these reforms abound, and not just the extension of the rights all people should have. Schools, where the Title IX process doesn’t allow for the presumption of innocence, have opened themselves up to criticism and lawsuits. We’d rather see the schools’ funds go to the education of its students, not to a settlement because they didn’t follow the due process required by our constitution.