Princeton erred grievously by accepting the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) policy on sexual assault in return for federal government funding for the University (On the Campus, Oct. 8 and Dec. 3). The Obama administration’s policy is blatantly illegal. Because rape and sexual assault are considered criminal acts, every American citizen enjoys the presumption of innocence beyond a reasonable doubt, which rules out any standard of “preponderance of evidence.” The confrontation clause of the Sixth and 14th amendments to the Constitution guarantees that the accused shall enjoy the right to be confronted with the witness against him in clear view, precluding the confidentiality of an accuser. The Fifth Amendment prohibits double jeopardy, where a defendant once proclaimed innocent cannot be retried a second time. This means that complainants cannot appeal a decision that effectively would retry the respondent. Furthermore, Title IX policy itself is discriminatory based on gender, since virtually all the respondents would be male. How can President Eisgruber ’83 address sexual misconduct fairly, given these facts?
The rights of American citizens afforded by the Constitution trump any agreement by OCR and the University, any vote by University faculty, and any interpretation by the current federal administration. There is no heroism here by accusers, no feel-good Title IX media events, and no student should ever feel comfortable accusing a person of a felony. If my son were accused of a sexual assault at Princeton, I would insist upon a jury trial in court, and if acquitted, insist upon litigation against both the complainant and the University, reinforcing the seriousness of trivial accusations. If Princeton is to be a great university in the future, it needs to make principled decisions to protect all the members of its community. It can do much better than this.