Thinking back to the halcyon days when I went to college, the name by which we referred to the campus police was “public safety” so that all of us would think of them not as law enforcers but as people in uniform who were there to help us. Oh yeah, and they didn’t carry guns.
That’s all changed, as they are now police again, and well armed. Like most college police, they have general law enforcement jurisdiction. When they arrest you, you go to real jail and real court. When they shoot you, it’s with real bullets. While we’re talking about rape and Title IX, nobody mentions the cross-over between the Disneyland of campus adjudication and the real world. Except Ashe Schow.
Due process on college campuses has become passé, and even an impediment to justice — at least according to sexual assault activists. But police officers like Susan Riseling may be giving activists a leg up.
Riseling is the chief of police and associate vice chancellor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and recently told a conference audience that using the records from campus sexual assault hearings could be beneficial to police investigations.
“It’s Title IX, not Miranda,” Riseling said. “Use what you can.”
As for those who sniffle away the requirements of due process, because it’s just a college disciplinary board, and the worst that can happen is a young man gets expelled, labeled a rapist and ruined for life, the police want to thank you. Your ignorance and myopia, that the rights you’re attacking to guarantee that no woman should ever be sad are the same ones that make their life more difficult.
Hey, they don’t want to work any harder than they have to, and where were they going to find anyone stupid enough to do their dirty work, undermine constitutional rights, water down process and procedure from that which protects the accused to that which facilitates conviction? Nobody could be that stupid, right?
But no such rights exist on a college campus, allowing police officers like Riseling to use the information gathered by such means against accused students.
Here’s the trick. Take a person, strip them of all the rights and protections to which they would otherwise be entitled in a rational society and force them into a process that compels them to speak, to defend, without knowledge of the facts against them, without advice of counsel, without the rights to remain silent or confront witnesses, without an opportunity to adequately prepare or investigate.
When a student is accused of sexual assault on a college campus, they’re often given vague descriptions of the charge against them — which may have occurred years earlier. They’re forced to come up with a defense within days, told not to talk to anyone about the allegation (making mounting a defense nearly impossible) and not allowed to have an attorney speak on their behalf.
They face a system that has been shifted against them, where an accusation is all that’s needed to brand them a rapist for life and kick them out of school. There is no due process in campus hearings — no rules of evidence, cross-examination or right to be represented by an attorney. They’re not even told that anything said in the hearing can and will be used against them in a court of law.
Boom. It may be over after the college disciplinary board finishes its chorus of Kumbaya, or it may just be the beginning, the appetizer before a full entrée of baked Kafka.
This can apply to statements made in the course of a sexual assault proceeding, when a student has no idea of the ramifications of words and positions that can be used against him in criminal proceedings. Apologize to the student who decided that you assaulted her because she had as many beers as you did? That morphs into an admission against penal interest in real court, and becomes the centerpiece of a prosecution that can put you in prison.
You may not realize it. The student certainly doesn’t, but Susan Riseling clearly does, and she’s salivating at the prospect of using some dope’s un-advised, un-warned, un-protected choices to nail him to the wall.
K.C. Johnson, who chronicled the Duke Lacrosse fiasco, appreciated Riseling’s Machiavellian perspective:
“The chief offered a rare explicit celebration of what too often is implicit: lack of civil liberties protections is a desired aspect of college inquiries,” Johnson wrote. “The ‘advantage’ of the disciplinary hearing process, it seems, is that accused students have minimal due process protections, and — since sexual assault is, of course, a crime — law enforcement can then use student disciplinary proceedings to obtain information that they could not, under the Constitution, in a normal police investigation.”
That wasn’t quite what you had in mind? Bummer. Meet the law of unintended consequences, where the rights you toss in the wind are the same ones you expect to be there for you when it’s no longer just some Title IX feel-good procedure, but real world prosecution leading to very real world prison.
And the choices left for students are to engage in the college disciplinary process to avoid being expelled, or protect their rights in the face of further prosecution. Either way, they lose.
But if that’s what it takes to vindicate the unsafe atmosphere women feel, by assuring that no woman’s claim will ever be questioned or denied, what do you care? After all, how can anyone be more concerned with innocent men going to prison when women have feelings that demand validation?