#MeToo is a necessary moment of reckoning in America, from Hollywood to academia to our own homes. But let the failures of Title IX on our college campuses be a lesson to us all — a civilized society has no place for the vigilante justice system and sexual McCarthyism brought about by this movement.
In 2011, the Obama administration’s Department of Education penned its famous “Dear Colleague” letter, intimidating universities into using the lowest standard of proof when finding students guilty of sexual assault. The fate of the accused laid in the hands of dubious internal campus courts, which only needed to prove the incident was more likely than not. A mere 50.1 percent tilt of evidence determined guilt. Even more alarming, the letter “strongly” discouraged schools from allowing accused students to cross-examine their accuser.
Such was the case for the two student-athletes at the University of Findlay who were expelled just 24 hours after a female student falsely accused them of sexually assaulting her. The University never even bothered to interview any witnesses or question the young woman. When trying to enroll in other colleges, they were repeatedly rejected because of the accusation, and the NCAA denied a waiver that would have allowed one of them to play at another school.
More than 300 students have filed suit over similar Title IX decisions since the new rules were implemented in 2011, only after their reputations were dragged through the mud before any qualified individual assessed the credibility of the accuser, examined the evidence, or provided an impartial trial.
Despite the Trump administration overturning the widely debated Obama-era Title IX policy last year, the vigilante justice system that emerged from it had already done lasting damage to the way society adjudicates sexual assault.
This context is crucial to understanding how young people responded to the allegations against Brett Kavanaugh.
I started following the #MeToo movement when it was born in 2017, my last year as a college student. I witnessed firsthand a disturbing trend of schools, including our nation’s top law schools, abandon due process for the sake of combating what the Obama administration and the media sensationalized as “rape culture.”
In a matter of years, American college campuses fell into the grip of guilty until proven innocent, and an entire generation of students learned to punish their adversaries through mob rule.
He is a “product of rape culture,” a “villain elevated to position of power,” a “part of a trend of entitled men.” These were the responses of college students when VICE asked for their take on Kavanaugh. When other students were asked why they were protesting Kavanaugh outside the Senate confirmation hearing, their responses indicated no cohesive message other than Kavanaugh is undoubtedly guilty of rape and will strip away their rights.
The feeling was mutual at the University of South Carolina last week when a mob of nearly 100 students demanded a professor be fired for saying “accusers sometimes lie.” Days before, Catholic University’s dean was suspended and forced to write an apology for questioning the credibility of one of Kavanaugh’s accusers on Twitter. In a series of disturbing rants, a Georgetown professor said the white GOP senators who supported Kavanaugh “deserve miserable deaths while feminist laugh and feed them to swine" (she has since been removed from classes).
Many schools canceled classes and staged anti-Kavanaugh protests — all before a shred of credible evidence was brought forth against him.
Strangely enough, these same sexual assault advocates were notably quiet when an academic adviser wished for conservative commentator Allie Stuckey to have her own “#metoo moment,” or when a Paralegal Studies professor said it’d be fine if Education Secretary Betsy Devos was sexually assaulted — raising the question over whether the hysteria is more about scoring political points scoring or combating real sexual assault.
Nonetheless, it’s more evident now than ever before that colleges are fostering a toxic, politically fueled justice system in which feelings take precedence over facts, and mob rule determines the outcome.
This is indicative of a problem much larger than eroding due process. What colleges are teaching our youth translates into a society that solves differences by any means necessary rather than at the ballot box.
For Kavanaugh, like many on college campuses, he’s guilty of one unforgivable sin: standing in the way of the Left’s agenda. His punishment? They make an example out of him. First they tar him with a litany of hateful labels and accusations, hoping one sticks. Then they attempt to dramatically limit discourse, firing warning shots at anyone who comes to their target’s defense. Cue “rape apologist!” shouts at Sen. Susan Collins.
This is who @SenatorCollins is: pic.twitter.com/U9klDNzeWr— Women's March (@womensmarch) October 5, 2018
This rings true for every college student who has been "doxed," penalized, silenced, or smeared for defending an inconvenient truth on campus — even if that truth means their innocence of a crime.
The 300 young men accused of sexual assault on campus didn’t have the same luxury as Kavanaugh to defend himself on a national platform. For many, the reality was permanent reputational damage and derailed academic careers.
The consequences that has on a free society is detrimental. Teaching our youth that due process and the rule of law don’t matter has consequences — we must wake up to the reality of them before the circus we witnessed through the Kavanaugh confirmation process becomes the new norm.
Hannah Scherlacher is a campaign consultant and former manager of Campus Reform