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Campus Sexual Violence Elimination Act, via Sherrod Brown

*CORRECTION*

Just found out from a friend that the bill referred to in this post passed at least 6 months ago - it takes effect March of 2014. I'm going to leave the post as written, including the typing errors in the Senator's letter. However, this tells me that he's not just sending autoreplies - he's got nothing but lip service, and apparently that's all it takes for most people who write to him, because nobody has alerted him to the fact that he's sending a 6+ month outdated letter out to his constituents. In the meantime, since I hadn't mailed any letters yet, I'll have a chance to correct the parts that assume the bill hasn't passed yet, and ask that the bill be repealed.
This post has been updated on A Voice For Men.



I recently wrote to several federal political office holders about the issues with the current policy the federal departments of Education and Justice have foisted onto America's post secondary education institutions.

It's been a few weeks, and I've received a reply from Senator Sherrod Brown. It looks like yet another autoreply, but it tells you exactly where he stands on the issue.

Ohio voters, take note - men's rights activists will get no help from this senator. He belongs to the feminist lobbyists who advocated for the discriminatory law and policy in the first place.

I do intend to reply to this letter with a breakdown of why I'm not happy with what my senator has sent me. I don't expect my reply to have a lot of influence, but I'll post it here, in hopes that I can motivate others to write either Ohio's senators and congressmen, or other politicians.


The letter I received:


Dear (my actual last name:)


Thank you for getting in touch with my office regarding sexual harassment on college campuses.


Today, one of out of five women will experience sexual violence while attending college. In too many instances, sexual harassment or sexual assault cases are left unreported or the assaulter is exonerated of any charges.  
The Campus Sexual Violence Elimination Act or Campus (SaVE) Act would ensure colleges and universities are doing their part to minimize sexual crimes on campuses. It would require all institutes of higher education participating in a title IV program, except foreign schools, to include their policies and procedures for handling sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking in their annual security report. Additionally, the legislation would promote awareness and prevention across campuses by requiring schools to provide transparent information to their student body on programs and assistance related to sexual crimes.
We have a solemn responsibility to protect young people from harm and to ensure those who are guilty of a sexual crime are held accountable. Should the SaVE Act come before the Senate, I will keep your views in mind.
Thank you for your advocacy.
                         Sincerely,
              
                         Sherrod Brown
                         United States Senator

This is the bill he was writing about.


Campus Sexual Violence Elimination Act text

Campus SaVE act summary

This pretty much goes along with what the Department of Education had tried to mandate using threat of denial of federal funding. The difference is this would make it federal law.

It would significantly change the wording of the Higher Education Act of 1965, adding stipulations requiring colleges to substitute college disciplinary boards for courtrooms in cases of allegations of sexual misconduct. It also mandates both the use of the preponderance of evidence standard instead of beyond a reasonable doubt as a standard, and that these institutions allow the accuser to appeal a not guilty verdict.

In other words, it reduces the standard of evidence, and allows for double jeopardy.

There is absolutely no good purpose for this design. The only thing this will do is allow accusers the ability to railroad through at school accusations which would not hold up in court due to lack of evidence.

This is a false-accuser support bill.

   
Senators  Sherrod Brown and Robert Portman will be receiving letters and phone calls from me on this topic, as will the House representative for my area, along with a few other representatives.

I've recently learned of a bill which may soon be under consideration to be voted into law. The Campus Sexual Violence Elimination Act (S. 128, H. R. 812) presents significant danger to anyone seeking higher education. If passed into law, it will apply the following mandates to post-secondary educational institutions

  • That there be an on-campus disciplinary hearing whenever there is an accusation of sexual misconduct.
  • That the hearing must be held using a lower standard of evidence for conviction than is used in a court of law, even though heavy penalties with long term effects (such as being banned from campus) may follow a guilty verdict.
  • That accusers be notified of a right to not contact actual law enforcement regarding the accusation.
  • That in the event of a not guilty verdict, an accuser can subject the accused to effective double jeopardy by appealing the verdict
This combination provides would-be accusers with a means to bypass law enforcement, bypass the legal system, bypass the right of the accused to due process, and use college disciplinary boards as an easier means to secure conviction and potentially seriously life-impacting punishment. This will include false accusers who can get friends to testify, and it will include accusers who can look convincing while bringing a word against word case.

Instead of protecting students from a dangerous environment, this bill will create one. It will place students in jeopardy of having their academic careers and their future employment prospects easily destroyed by false or exaggerated accusations. 

The first thing to understand about sex crimes and false allegations is that we are never going to eliminate either the incidence of innocent people being penalized, or guilty people escaping the justice system, because sex crime cases can be subjective, lawyers can be sneaky, and mistakes can be made with any case.

What we can do is ensure that the reason innocent people sometimes get penalized is not because they were denied their right to a fair trial, and the reason guilty people sometimes get away is not because their initial conviction didn't have to be based on any real evidence and a deserved conviction was overturned because the initial handling of the case didn't involve a thorough investigation.

We have a legal system for a reason. We would not want a law dictating that university curriculum be written by trained chefs, or that restaurant menus be designed by doctors, surgery done by attorneys, or city infrastructure designed by interior decorators. Why should we accept a law dictating that legal issues be handled by educational institution administrators? This is not their job. They do what they do because that's where their expertise is. It is ridiculous to cut the legal system out of the equation when there is any accusation of sexual abuse.

Even if we decide that these administrators are so qualified, the procedures laid out in this bill would deny those accused on campuses across the U.S. the right to a fair trial. Instead of having their cases heard before a qualified judge and/or jury, students accused of sexual misconduct will be subjected to trial by educators, with a reduced standard of evidence, and even if found innocent, they'll face double jeopardy as their accusers will be allowed to appeal the initial decision and force them to go through the experience a second time.

This is a major departure from the constitutional guarantee of due process, and a violation of student rights. It will create on post secondary institutional campuses a legally hostile environment which can interfere with students' focus on their studies, and their ability to obtain their education in peace.

I strongly urge you to vote against this bill. Do not participate in the attack that this is; an assault on the U.S. justice system, and the right of citizens to due process when accused of a crime.



Part of that letter is based on my previous post, "The Nature of the Allegation."

I'm hoping others will join me in writing to your senators and state reps about this issue, before these bills are even introduced. I don't mind if people copy mine verbatim, but if you write your own, I'd love to see them posted in the comments section under this blog.

You can find your state's senators' contact information here:

http://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm

You can find your state's  house representatives' contact information here:

http://www.house.gov/representatives/find/

If you happen to write or call and get an interesting response, please feel free to share that in the comments here, too. I think everyone interested in the outcome of this bill would also be interested in knowing what their representatives have to say about it.

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