Six women filed a federal lawsuit on Tuesday claiming the University of Tennessee has created a student culture that enables sexual assaults
Oh my, this sounds terrible. What is it that the University of Tennessee did? Well there is some nebulous and emotionally charged language, but then the article in the Tennessean gets to specifics.
The plaintiffs say that UT’s administrative hearing process, which is utilized by public universities across the state, is unfair because it provides students accused of sexual assault the right to attorneys and to confront their accusers through cross-examination and an evidentiary hearing in front of an administrative law judge.
And there you have it. Very rarely does a pleading admit the ulterior motives for bringing a suit so clearly. They simply want men accused of any sort of harassment or assault to be denied any effective means of proving their innocence. They claim that allowing them to do so creates;
a hostile sexual environment for female students by showing “deliberate indifference and a clearly unreasonable response after a sexual assault that causes a student to endure additional harassment
About the only other specific complaints of any note mentioned in the article are that some of the kids on campus are allowed to party too much, and that the adjudication process takes too long. I will not weigh in on the merits of those charges. But obviously going before a judge and explicitly arguing that those you accuse not be allowed to defend themselves is just crazypants. It certainly would also serve to cast doubt on the rest of their claims and motivations. If they have a just grievance of some sort, and they might, they need to de-link it from their political aims or else it just looks like another stunt to advance an agenda.
The article in the Tennessean is poorly written (like my stuff), and the past reporting by the reporter who wrote it has been tendentious at best, so take all of this with a grain of salt until further details come out. But given the push by the Department of Education to extort universities into giving up due process protections under threat of losing their federal funding I think it is fair to say that multiple efforts are being made on this front. The DOE has had their wings clipped a bit lately so it is not surprising that other means are being used to achieve the same goal.
Too many cases like these are settled. I think at least one institution needs to stand up and say that due process rights are non-negotiable. And certainly the laws in TN are very sound in that regard so UT is on far firmer ground than many other universities. It will be interesting to see how this plays out. Often the university administrators want to make the same changes as the people suing and they use the fact there is a lawsuit to get what they want included in a settlement. In other words the fix is in from the start since both parties want the same thing, but were prevented from getting it by the people’s elected representatives and the law. This tactic is most often used with the EPA. But here I think there is at least a chance UT will stand firm on due process portions of the suit.
Update: The inimitable Maetenloch of Ace of Spades HQ has been kind enough to link to us today and we welcome all of our new visitors!