Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos issued voluntary guidance to rescind the Dear Colleague letter in 2017, and a final blow to the letter was introduced this year in the pending PROSPER Act.
The “Dear Colleague letter” interpretation of the Title IX section of the Education Amendments Act of 1972, adopted by the university in 2011, has weaponized allegations of sexual assault or harassment, and put everyone on campus at risk of a lengthy battle for due process and justice.
Effectively, you are just one accusation away from a permanent expulsion from Kent State.
Kent State University Policy 5 – 16.2 Section F gives student conduct hearings, and our Title IX office, the power to investigate, adjudicate, and impose sanctions on individuals accused of criminal sexual assault on campus.
Student conduct hearings are made of three volunteer panel members, at least one student and two other members who can be students, staff, or faculty. These volunteer adjudicators receive just six hours of training before they can try a criminal offense at these hearings, possibly impose monetary fines, and even expel a student.
In a criminal court, the burden of proof to find an accused individual guilty is “beyond a reasonable doubt”, this equates to almost 100% certainty. These conduct hearings operate on a “preponderance of the evidence,” a standard used for civil cases, that equates to 50.1% certainty.
Even more disturbingly, these hearings are not conducted in the same manner as a trial.
The accuser, and the accused, cannot be represented by an advocate or legal counsel. The victim of a Kent State campus sexual assault, who could possibly be a middle school age guest student, must cross examine their own victimizer, review evidence, and question investigators.
The justice that “Dear Colleague” advocates seek is so far removed from these hearings that falsely accused individuals have successfully sued their former universities for violating their 5th Amendment right to due process in multiple recent court cases.
By all accounts, the “Dear Colleague” Title IX standards have failed to provide justice for victims, failed to reduce the number of sexual assaults on campus, and created a weaponized pointed finger that harms far too many innocents.