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Joe Biden is bringing back #MeToo witch hunts

Activists at a Title IX rally in Washington, DC. Credit: Getty

April 26, 2024 - 10:00am

In 2015, student-athlete Grant Neal was expelled by Colorado State University Pueblo for raping a fellow student. There was just one problem: the alleged victim repeatedly said, “I’m fine and I wasn’t raped.”

“One day I woke up and I had all my dreams in front of me,” Neal told Reason, “[but that was] yanked away from me for no justifiable reason.”

The hundreds of horror stories like Neal’s are what prompted the Donald Trump administration to institute a series of reforms in 2020, intended to protect due process rights for accused students in campus sexual assault proceedings while ensuring victims were able to pursue justice. But the Joe Biden administration has just announced plans to roll back many of these protections — prompting widespread concern over due process rights and whether mob justice might make a comeback on campus.

On 19 April, the Department of Education unveiled significant changes to the existing rules which govern these proceedings, formally taking effect at the beginning of August. These changes include removing the right of accused students to a live hearing where they can have a representative cross-examine their accuser, as well as allowing colleges to return to a “single investigator” model, where one individual can investigate the case and render a conclusion. In other words: be prosecutor, judge, and jury all at once.

The changes would require most colleges to return to using a “preponderance of the evidence” standard to decide these matters, which only needs 51% certainty of guilt to find a student responsible. Another development would be the removal of the requirement that colleges present the charges against accused students in writing at the beginning of an investigation.

The White House has argued that these changes are intended to “protect all students and employees from all sex discrimination prohibited under Title IX […] by restoring and strengthening full protection from sexual violence and other sex-based harassment”.

Now, anyone with a moral compass would surely want to ensure that genuine victims of sexual abuse are treated with dignity and receive the justice they deserve. But the spectre of expulsions without a live hearing under such a low standard of proof is raising serious concerns among legal experts and civil libertarians.

“Today’s regulations mean one thing: America’s college students are less likely to receive justice if they find themselves in a Title IX proceeding,” the nonpartisan Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression (FIRE) said in a statement after Biden unveiled the new rules. “Rather than playing political ping-pong with student rights, the Department of Education should recognize that removing procedural protections for students is the exact opposite of fairness.” (Disclosure: I do a small amount of freelance work with FIRE).

In particular, the return to the “single investigator” model is raising concerns. “You arrive at truth by asking hard questions,” attorney Justin Dillon, who represents students accused of misconduct, told The Free Press. “But single investigators have no incentive to do that, which is why they are the worst possible model if you want to get to the truth. This is going to lead to more erroneous outcomes, and more lawsuits.”

Professor K.C. Johnson has studied the debate for years, and he worries that, in totality, Biden’s changes may return us to a time when “young men — the accused were almost always young men, of course — were sometimes expelled from campus without ever seeing the charge against them in writing, or hearing testimony against them.” When so many experienced legal minds express concerns, it is hard to deny that Biden may just be bringing back the witch hunts which characterised the #MeToo era.


Brad Polumbo is an independent journalist, YouTuber, and host of the DAMAGE CONTROL podcast dedicated to reclaiming common sense on LGBT issues. 

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Mike Downing
Mike Downing
22 days ago

But we must believe ‘victims’ at all times so no probs obvs.

Big success for ‘feminism’ in that the term ‘witch hunt’ that originally derived from the persecution of suspect women by unruly mobs now largely operates in reverse with men often as the victims of crowds of women, baying for blood.

That’s progress.

I read yesterday that a woman who glassed a man in the face in Manchester after he jokingly ‘mis-aged ‘ her didn’t even get a custodial sentence from the lady judge. Talk about a two-tier legal system.

Fafa Fafa
Fafa Fafa
22 days ago
Reply to  Mike Downing

We must believe all victims except if the accused is Bill Clinton

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
22 days ago
Reply to  Mike Downing

Would all of you stop blaming EVERYTHING on feminists. I’m a feminist who believes that young men were being accused of a crime without any way to defend themselves. It violated everyone’s right to due process. Reluctantly, I agreed with the Trump administration’s changes. The fact that so many of these men won their lawsuits was an indictment of the unfairness of the universities’ star chambers. While some feminists hate men, most don’t.

Andrew Vanbarner
Andrew Vanbarner
21 days ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

Most feminists see men as both oppressors and sex pests. That’s essentially the definition of feminism.
No thinking person, male or female, thinks that women should have fewer rights than men, and in fact western society tends to grant women far more – the right to reject parenthood, the right to avoid the draft registry, the right to nearly all marital property, first dibbs on university admissions, hiring, promotions, etc.
Feminists have no interest in equal rights, nor in ameliorating any unfairness towards men. “Start your own movement” they’ll say, before immediately portraying any men human rights advocate as an “incel,” or a bigot, or a dangerous right wing extremists.
You merely need only read the words of the “scholars” they study, or read their public pronouncements, or read the words of the policies they endorse, including blatantly unfair ones such as these new Title IX guidelines.
Perhaps you aren’t a feminist if you neither dislike men, nor think that institutions should treat them unfairly. Perhaps another term is needed.

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
19 days ago

This is just a series of assertions. Perhaps feminists should define what they do and don’t believe ,(and, surprise!, they don’t all agree with other), rather than someone who is so obviously hostile.

By the way, you speak as if the fact the vast majority “agree men and women should have equal rights” was some God given position which was always the case, which quite obviously for anyone with the slightest grasp of history would know, it was not.

Andrew Barton
Andrew Barton
20 days ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

Why ‘reluctantly’?

michael harris
michael harris
22 days ago

Divide and conquer. Fire up your base. In Indian parlance ‘vote bank politics’. In ‘modern’ terms ‘identity politics’. RIP democracy.

AC Harper
AC Harper
22 days ago

In a small minority of cases false accusations are made. What would prevent a falsely accused person from summary judgement?

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
22 days ago
Reply to  AC Harper

I suspect it may not be that small a minority

Thomas Wagner
Thomas Wagner
22 days ago
Reply to  AC Harper

Who would determine that this is “a small minority of cases?”

AC Harper
AC Harper
22 days ago
Reply to  Thomas Wagner

Look at Wikipedia ‘False Accusation of Rape’. It is quite a murky area but around 5% are reckoned to be false accusations, and rather more ‘unfounded’.

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
22 days ago
Reply to  AC Harper

This to me seems like a very large number, which would increase dramatically if the accusers thought their claims would not be investigated.

Steven Carr
Steven Carr
22 days ago

False accusations have real consequences.
Ask Emmitt Till

Allison Barrows
Allison Barrows
22 days ago

Young men are avoiding colleges as it is. This will drive them further away. Which is probably the point. With women running these institutions, no one really gets an education there, anyway, unless it’s how to plagiarize your social justice studies thesis and scream nonsense through a bullhorn.

Hugh Bryant
Hugh Bryant
22 days ago

That was probably going to happen anyway. Universities are obsolete. The problem they came into being to solve no longer exists. Most academics know this, I think, which partly explains their increasingly bizarre behaviour.

Paul
Paul
21 days ago
Reply to  Hugh Bryant

Interesting; could you elaborate?

Thomas Wagner
Thomas Wagner
22 days ago

A clumsy, expensive but probably effective means of dealing with expulsion after a kangaroo trial would be to challenge it in court. Two or three expensive findings that the university, the “single investigator” and the accuser were financially responsible for the defamation of a student would make universities and other invertebrate organizations slither away from these persecutions.

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
22 days ago
Reply to  Thomas Wagner

There have already been sucessful lawsuits.

Betsy Warrior
Betsy Warrior
22 days ago
Reply to  Thomas Wagner

Prince Shembo, Nate Parker, the teen in Miller’s book A False Report or Denise Huskins a “gone girl.”

Alphonse Pfarti
Alphonse Pfarti
22 days ago

Something else where the right call happened on The Donald’s watch then.

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
22 days ago

“Protect all students.” Except the accused, whom our system has bent over backward to consider in the service of preventing exactly what happened to Mr. Neal. This is a fine step toward the installation of Red Queen justice – sentence first, trial later.

Lindsay S
Lindsay S
22 days ago

Bold move given how many children Biden has been photographed, sniffing!

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
22 days ago

This says something about society – that people in power think it’s okay to destroy someone’s life without even the pretense of a fair and unbiased investigative process.

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
22 days ago

Biden went even further with his Title IX changes than Obama. He also included provisions guaranteeing trans men access to women’s spaces, such as bathrooms, arguing that it is discrimination to prevent this.

Hugh Bryant
Hugh Bryant
22 days ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

Poor old Joe. He probably doesn’t even know all this stuff is happening. The

John Riordan
John Riordan
22 days ago

This is just another scandal waiting to break that will probably bankrupt a university at some point.

Kat L
Kat L
22 days ago
Reply to  John Riordan

Not unless someone starts going after the endowments. We need to start taxing them since they’ve become undeclared churches of the post Christian age.

Kat L
Kat L
22 days ago

Deleted

Betsy Warrior
Betsy Warrior
22 days ago

Nate Parker’s victim didn’t commit suicide because of the gang rape, but because of the subsequent harassment she received at the hands of his friends at the college afterward. She sued the college and won, but it was too late. Same was true for Lizzie Seeberg after Prince Shembo sexually assaulted her at Notre Dame where he was an athlete. The constant harassment by his friends drove her to kill herself. When he later killed his girlfriend’s dog there was much more outrage. People like James Tobeck, accused by almost 400 women of sexual malfeasance never served a day, while the likes of Bill Cosby for all his destruction of women’s lives and careers barely paid any price at all. And C. K. Has been handily rehabilitated. So most guys are secretly gloating while publicly bemoaning their horribly unfair prosecution. Too often there are cases like that described in the book by Christain Miller, A False Report or like the experience of Denise Huskins who was labeled a Gone Girl. ALAN DERSHOWITZ, lawyer of Mike Tyson, Jeffrey Epstein , Trump, O.J. Simpson, et al., as a law professor claimed that most rape accusations are false.

Andrew Vanbarner
Andrew Vanbarner
21 days ago
Reply to  Betsy Warrior

The alternative position – which seems to be the progressive left’s assumption – is that no rape allegations are false, or that they’re so rare one hardly needs to be concerned about punishing the innocent.
However, this is hard to rationalize when figures like Clinton and Biden are credibly accused. (And, more infuriatingly, aren’t held to account or suffer minimal repercussions.)
Or when one reads Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird,” or compares the me too era condemnations against “catcalling” with the sad demise of Emmett Till.
The case of Brian Banks is also a sad and infuriating example of unfounded allegations destroying a man’s life, as is the case of Tawana Brawley, championed by Al Sharpton.
The lives of the Duke Lacrosse team were nearly destroyed by an overzealous prosecutor, but happily their parents had the resources to defend their sons.
Other unjustly accused men are rarely so lucky.

Andrew Boughton
Andrew Boughton
13 days ago

Neurotic society.