Today, crimes of sexual violence on campus are not always reported to law enforcement. Schools are tasked with investigating and judging felony allegations in proceedings that lack the power and resources of proper authorities. Schools cannot subpoena witnesses, take testimony under oath, or collect and review forensic evidence—nor should they. A lack of due process undermines the integrity of the proceedings and increases the likelihood of errors that can harm students for the rest of their lives.
Several recent incidents of actual or alleged campus sexual assault have received national media attention. Less has been reported about the failures and injustices of the current process for investigating and adjudicating sexual assault on campus.
The failures of the current system have allowed dangerous criminals to commit horrific crimes, as in the case of Jesse Matthew, who received three life sentences last week and awaits trial for the murder of UVA student Hannah Graham. The Rolling Stone debacle at the University of Virginia led to a suspension of activities for dozens of student groups and thousands of students who had nothing to do with the underlying allegations of sexual violence.
Senator Trent Lott and I penned an op-ed in the Washington Post yesterday in support of the Safe Campus Act. This bill would make sure law enforcement takes the lead in investigating sexual assault allegations and would provide due process protections to students and student organizations, including right to counsel and the right to appeal school findings. Legislation like this is a first step to addressing the injustices and failures of the current system.