Charles Dickens, writing of the years before the French Revolution leading to the Jacobin Reign of Terror, opened a Tale of Two Cities with these ominous words.
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.
Much as they might apply to any time, as they aptly describe the human condition, the question of whether this particular moment in time is the right time for the Secretary of Education to issue regulations to undo the unlawfully issued Dear Colleague Letter and its ironically-named guidelines on the conduct of Title IX sex tribunals. Eighteen Democratic attorneys general, the American Council on Education and the National Women’s Law Center contend it’s the worst of times.
In its letter, ACE argued that “at a time when institutional resources already are stretched thin, colleges and universities should not be asked to divert precious resources away from more critical efforts in order to implement regulations unrelated to this extraordinary crisis.” The NWLC letter spoke similarly, but leaned harder on the supposed harm to students: “Finalizing the proposed rule would also unnecessarily exacerbate confusion and uncertainty for students who are currently in pending Title IX investigations and hearings, which have already been delayed and disrupted by the pandemic.” The letter from the attorneys general expressed similar language.
Who needs all this massive upheaval and disruption at the very moment colleges are desperately trying to deal with a pandemic? KC Johnson and Justin Dillon answer this emotionally charged question.
While it’s hard not to admire their chutzpah, their arguments are provably nonsense.
Provably? Well yes, and they offer three arguments to nail it down.
First, the universities have known for more than 16 months — since November 2018 — that these regulations were coming.
There have been innumerable hours spent formulating comments, op-eds, arguments in opposition to the anticipated tepid changes that might introduce some due process into the inquisition. It’s not as if these changes haven’t been the subject of massive scrutiny and consideration for the past year and a half, at least.
Second, do you know who’s going to have a lot of time on their hands in the next six months? Title IX coordinators. Why? Because the number of Title IX cases is about to drop precipitously.
Over the past decade, a massive bureaucracy has emerged on campuses that contributes nothing to teaching, nothing to education, and exists only to prosecute male students who are accused by female students of sexual misconduct. Now that classes are canceled and students have been sent packing, they have nothing to do with themselves and tons of free time to ponder ways to circumvent whatever regulations are issued.
Third, it’s clear that these interest groups — and their political allies — are just trying to delay long enough for a new administration possibly to take over.
There is no politician who has been more dedicated to “believing the woman” and “It’s On Us” than the presumptive Democratic nominee for president. He was at the forefront as vice president and has made it clear that he intends to continue it should he be elected. Except for Tara Reade, but that’s completely different.
But then, with the potential for change come November, and the battle for due process likely to morph into the war against the rape epidemic, would that be a bad thing?
And you don’t have to take our word for it. ACE president Ted Mitchell called these new regulations “a step in the wrong direction,” saying they would “impose a legalistic, prescriptive ‘one-size-fits-all’ judicial-like process” on universities. The NWLC was even more blunt, calling the proposed regulations “disastrous,” “confusing and illogical,” and “devastating for survivors” (emphasis in original), and even opining that “‘due process’ is clearly a red herring.”
So what time is it, the best time for regs or the worst?
*Tuesday Talk rules apply.