A Victory for Campus Justice

Robert Shibley:

With accusations of sexual misconduct front and center for the second presidential election in a row, it may be hard to believe that the U.S. is making progress on this serious issue. But on Wednesday, the Education Department brought Americans a step closer to having such allegations tried more thoroughly and fairly—at least on college campuses.

More than a year after issuing a draft rule, the department released final regulations on how colleges and universities must treat students involved in disciplinary procedures under Title IX, the federal law that bans sex discrimination—and has been interpreted to include sexual misconduct—in federally funded education programs. Institutions will finally have to guarantee due process for students caught up in campus kangaroo courts.

Consider the presumption of innocence. The most recent survey of due process protections at U.S. News’s top 53 national universities by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education determined that 72% of them—including Georgetown and Caltech—didn’t explicitly tell accused students that they are presumed innocent until proven guilty. The new rules will correct this abuse.