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Sexual assault and universities watch

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    It seems to be a hot button topic at the moment, of how universities are inadequately dealing with reports of sexual assault. Many critics say universities aren't dealing with them sufficiently well but .... the stand out thing as far as I can see about sexual assault is the simple fact that it's a CRIME. It would seem to me that investigation of the crime and punishment of it are the jobs of the criminal justice system, and mental and physical health needs are the jobs of the NHS. Beyond that it seems to me that the university has a responsibility to comply with the investigation of the police, and provide additional assistance to ensure the students academics don't suffer (so things like leave of absences etc.)

    So why, are we trying to make the university an all in one centre for the dealing of sexual assault, when it's very understandably unequipped to do so.
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    (Original post by limetang)
    It seems to be a hot button topic at the moment, of how universities are inadequately dealing with reports of sexual assault. Many critics say universities aren't dealing with them sufficiently well but .... the stand out thing as far as I can see about sexual assault is the simple fact that it's a CRIME. It would seem to me that investigation of the crime and punishment of it are the jobs of the criminal justice system, and mental and physical health needs are the jobs of the NHS. Beyond that it seems to me that the university has a responsibility to comply with the investigation of the police, and provide additional assistance to ensure the students academics don't suffer (so things like leave of absences etc.)

    So why, are we trying to make the university an all in one centre for the dealing of sexual assault, when it's very understandably unequipped to do so.
    Well, you seem to profoundly misunderstand the difference between criminal and non-criminal procedures.

    (1) Some victims of sexual assault don't want to go to the police. They don't want their trauma to be public record; they don't want to have to testify in court; they don't want a months or even years long process; etc. Having a University deal with it is typically much easier and faster.

    (2) The legal burden in civil proceedings is "on the balance of probabilities" - which is anything over 50% likely. In criminal proceedings it's "beyond reasonable doubt" - 99% sure. You can know that X raped Y but have insufficient evidence to prove it in a criminal trial. But, the school, in civil action, can expel the student.
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    (Original post by limetang)
    It seems to be a hot button topic at the moment, of how universities are inadequately dealing with reports of sexual assault. Many critics say universities aren't dealing with them sufficiently well but .... the stand out thing as far as I can see about sexual assault is the simple fact that it's a CRIME. It would seem to me that investigation of the crime and punishment of it are the jobs of the criminal justice system, and mental and physical health needs are the jobs of the NHS. Beyond that it seems to me that the university has a responsibility to comply with the investigation of the police, and provide additional assistance to ensure the students academics don't suffer (so things like leave of absences etc.)

    So why, are we trying to make the university an all in one centre for the dealing of sexual assault, when it's very understandably unequipped to do so.
    I agree with most of that. The university should be agreeing with the court of law's judgement, not coming up with its own judgement in some type of "kangaroo court".

    However, I think universities often have counselling systems etc? I feel that it would be entirely appropriate for the university to support a student's welfare and health in such a way. Things like personal tutors at universities can also help to support a student's mental health needs.

    I strongly believe that a university should not take disciplinary action against an accused unless they have been found guilty in a court of law though.
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    (Original post by Chief Wiggum)
    I agree with most of that. The university should be agreeing with the court of law's judgement, not coming up with its own judgement in some type of "kangaroo court".

    However, I think universities often have counselling systems etc? I feel that it would be entirely appropriate for the university to support a student's welfare and health in such a way. Things like personal tutors at universities can also help to support a student's mental health needs.

    I strongly believe that a university should not take disciplinary action against an accused unless they have been found guilty in a court of law though.
    So, I should clarify the point you're referring to there. Universities do often have counselling services, pastoral care services etc. and they often can and do provide important help to students, but it's very rare for these councillors to be trained psychiatrists. Which may be what is needed in the case of rape or sexual assault. And in a broader sense I think there is something wrong with a system where we have a greater support network for university students who have been victims of sexual assault or rape, than we do for the general public. The reason I seem to dismiss this as being a role universities take up is because in my opinion the role of counselling services etc. should be an area wide one that caters for everyone not just students. It's not fair to treat university students as being more deserving of help than the general public. Hope that makes sense.

    tl;dr University counselling services can often be inadequate and also seem to me at least, to provide a level of care for students that isn't available for everyone else, I think there's no reason for universities to have these services because there should already be a system there to deal with it on a country wide level.
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    (Original post by NYU2012)
    Well, you seem to profoundly misunderstand the difference between criminal and non-criminal procedures.

    (1) Some victims of sexual assault don't want to go to the police. They don't want their trauma to be public record; they don't want to have to testify in court; they don't want a months or even years long process; etc. Having a University deal with it is typically much easier and faster.

    (2) The legal burden in civil proceedings is "on the balance of probabilities" - which is anything over 50% likely. In criminal proceedings it's "beyond reasonable doubt" - 99% sure. You can know that X raped Y but have insufficient evidence to prove it in a criminal trial. But, the school, in civil action, can expel the student.
    I'm aware of the difference. I'm also aware of a similarity which is that both criminal and civil proceedings are still legal matters, and should still be dealt with by civil or criminal courts, or in the case of civil proceedings can be dealt with out of court if both parties agree to the terms of an out of court settlement, universities creating own courts, civil or otherwise is not something that should be going on.

    Also ... your first point is absolutely terrifying. You're saying that because criminal proceedings are hard, we should bypass them and enact our own punishments instead. That does a disservice to both victims and the accused.
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    (Original post by limetang)
    I'm aware of the difference. I'm also aware of a similarity which is that both criminal and civil proceedings are still legal matters, and should still be dealt with by civil or criminal courts, or in the case of civil proceedings can be dealt with out of court if both parties agree to the terms of an out of court settlement, universities creating own courts, civil or otherwise is not something that should be going on.
    Universities aren't creating courts. It's not legal dispute. It's something similar to arbitration. You're not dealing with 'law', you're dealing with University rules and regulations - it's a violation of University rules to commit sexual assault. The University is allowed to take disciplinary action against students that violate its rules.

    Companies do the exact same thing. I will repeat what I stated previously, you seem to have a profound misunderstanding of what's actually happening here.

    Also ... your first point is absolutely terrifying. You're saying that because criminal proceedings are hard, we should bypass them and enact our own punishments instead. That does a disservice to both victims and the accused.
    You're obviously not aware of the feminist literature or research conducted on victims of sexual assault. There are many individuals who refuse to bring criminal charges because they don't want to have to go through the process. By your alternative, the perpetrator should face no punishment (as you don't want Universities handling these issues).
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    (Original post by Chief Wiggum)
    I agree with most of that. The university should be agreeing with the court of law's judgement, not coming up with its own judgement in some type of "kangaroo court".
    (1) What if the victim doesn't want to bring charges against the perpetrator? Should he be allowed to remain on campus? By your standards, yes; he gets to remain on campus and nothing happens to him.

    (2) Criminal proceedings can take months or years. This may be problematic for the victim, who may be forced to attend the same University/classes as their rapist.

    (3) Universities aren't setting up Courts.

    (4) Decisions made by the University can be appealed for judicial review.

    (5) Your argument is basically advocating that institutions, companies, etc. that have established their own internal sets of rules regarding student/employee behavior, ought not have the power to enforce their own rules through meditation, arbitration, etc.
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    (Original post by NYU2012)
    Universities aren't creating courts. It's not legal dispute. It's something similar to arbitration. You're not dealing with 'law', you're dealing with University rules and regulations - it's a violation of University rules to commit sexual assault. The University is allowed to take disciplinary action against students that violate its rules.

    Companies do the exact same thing. I will repeat what I stated previously, you seem to have a profound misunderstanding of what's actually happening here.


    You're obviously not aware of the feminist literature or research conducted on victims of sexual assault. There are many individuals who refuse to bring criminal charges because they don't want to have to go through the process. By your alternative, the perpetrator should face no punishment (as you don't want Universities handling these issues).
    You've got me there, can't say I've read much of it. But yeah, by my alternative the perpetrator should face no punishment unless a court of law has proven that they're guilty, I have absolutely no shame in admitting that's my viewpoint as I think it's the only reasonable one we should accept.
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    (Original post by limetang)
    You've got me there, can't say I've read much of it. But yeah, by my alternative the perpetrator should face no punishment unless a court of law has proven that they're guilty, I have absolutely no shame in admitting that's my viewpoint as I think it's the only reasonable one we should accept.
    Actual lawyers, who are far more familiar with the legal system, disagree with this - and for very good reasons.

    You're arguing, effectively, that institutional, corporate or business bodies should not be able to regulate the behavior of their employees according to their internal 'contractual rules' and instead must have all matters referred to a criminal court. This is a blatant breach of privacy and autonomy.

    Why should any body have to refer all matters to a court of law? And why a criminal court? The rules governing institutional decision-making bodies are the same rules of reasonableness that govern civil liability. You can sue someone in civil court for rape with a legal burden of "on the balance of probabilities." The same standard is used by Universities.

    Why should they be prohibited from enforcing their rules against their students?
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    (Original post by NYU2012)
    You're obviously not aware of the feminist literature or research conducted on victims of sexual assault. There are many individuals who refuse to bring criminal charges because they don't want to have to go through the process. By your alternative, the perpetrator should face no punishment (as you don't want Universities handling these issues).
    So you're saying that, because supposed victims are unwilling to seek proper legal channels, supposed rapists should undergo trials where the university often breaches principles of natural justice?
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    (Original post by Bupdeeboowah)
    So you're saying that, because supposed victims are unwilling to seek proper legal channels, supposed rapists should undergo trials where the university often breaches principles of natural justice?
    'Principles of natural justice'? When did we go back to the age of natural law theory? Are we in the 1600-1800s again? I hate to break it to you, but the legal profession has long since moved on from the concept of natural law theory. We're in the age of positivism.

    Besides that, however, (1) where is evidence of theses breaches of 'natural justice'? (2) What is the nature of the supposed breaches? (3) Decisions made by University bodies can be appealed to Court. (4) These are matters of internal rules of the University (similar to rules governing company employees); as such, the University (and companies) have legal rights to enforce their own rules against their own students (employees).

    So, what is the issue here? Any supposed breach of 'natural justice' will be addressed under judicial review.
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    (Original post by NYU2012)
    (1) What if the victim doesn't want to bring charges against the perpetrator? Should he be allowed to remain on campus? By your standards, yes; he gets to remain on campus and nothing happens to him.
    Yes, from a logical point of view, I think he should, as he has not been found guilty of any crime. If he is found guilty of the crime, then of course he should be removed.

    (2) Criminal proceedings can take months or years. This may be problematic for the victim, who may be forced to attend the same University/classes as their rapist.
    Yes, I can see that would be problematic. I would also be problematic, however, to expel a student who hasn't been found guilty of a crime.

    That is why I think that the fairest solution is to go with the justice system.

    As I suggested above, I would hope that the pastoral care systems within universities could try to provide assistance and come up with a solution.

    (5) Your argument is basically advocating that institutions, companies, etc. that have established their own internal sets of rules regarding student/employee behavior, ought not have the power to enforce their own rules through meditation, arbitration, etc.
    Yes I can see that such things go on all the time. But for serious crimes, I just feel that there will inevitably be a lower burden of proof in some internal system than there would be in a court.

    I'd apply the same logic in a similar scenario, eg Mr X accuses Mr Y of being physically violent towards him in the workplace. It's a serious accusation, so I think the company should be basing their decisions on whether Mr Y is found guilty in a court of law or not. Of course, I do recognise that in real life, workplaces will have internal systems for dealing with such things.

    I guess I'm speaking from a personal viewpoint on what I feel would be ideally "most fair", although I recognise that's not how things work in the real world.
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    (Original post by Chief Wiggum)
    Yes I can see that such things go on all the time. But for serious crimes, I just feel that there will inevitably be a lower burden of proof in some internal system than there would be in a court.

    I guess I'm speaking from a personal viewpoint on what I feel would be ideally "most fair", although I recognise that's not how things work in the real world.
    Your whole argument is premised on a false idea that rape is a solely criminal matter and you can only be found guilty of rape under a legal burden of "beyond reasonable doubt." This is false.

    You can be accused of, and found guilty of, rape in a civil lawsuit, where the burden of proof is "on the balance of probabilities." Universities operate on the same basis.

    So, what is the issue with a University, as opposed to a civil court, handling the matter?
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    (Original post by NYU2012)
    'Principles of natural justice'? When did we go back to the age of natural law theory? Are we in the 1600-1800s again? I hate to break it to you, but the legal profession has long since moved on from the concept of natural law theory. We're in the age of positivism.

    Besides that, however, (1) where is evidence of theses breaches of 'natural justice'? (2) What is the nature of the supposed breaches? (3) Decisions made by University bodies can be appealed to Court. (4) These are matters of internal rules of the University (similar to rules governing company employees); as such, the University (and companies) have legal rights to enforce their own rules against their own students (employees).

    So, what is the issue here? Any supposed breach of 'natural justice' will be addressed under judicial review.
    (1)/(2): Universities often are inconsistent in the consideration of evidence presented, and sometimes do not even allow the supposed rape victim to be cross-examined.

    (3): This is precisely why the university system cannot be trusted to administer justice. As opposed to court judgments, the decisions of courts are easily subject to judicial review because no one really has faith in such a system. This just means increased costs for the parties involved, a longer trial, and negative publicity.

    (4): This, however, I will concede here.
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    (Original post by NYU2012)
    Actual lawyers, who are far more familiar with the legal system, disagree with this - and for very good reasons.

    You're arguing, effectively, that institutional, corporate or business bodies should not be able to regulate the behavior of their employees according to their internal 'contractual rules' and instead must have all matters referred to a criminal court. This is a blatant breach of privacy and autonomy.

    Why should any body have to refer all matters to a court of law? And why a criminal court? The rules governing institutional decision-making bodies are the same rules of reasonableness that govern civil liability. You can sue someone in civil court for rape with a legal burden of "on the balance of probabilities." The same standard is used by Universities.

    Why should they be prohibited from enforcing their rules against their students?
    You make a good point but... on a purely practical basis, what I'd say is that Universities, Businesses, whatever it may be, aren't equipped to properly investigate accusations of rape and sexual assault. A realistic consequence is many innocent people losing their jobs or being expelled as a result of a business, with a substantially lower standard of proof, and without the investigative resources and protections against the accused that a court has enacting justice.

    Where there is a clear and present danger from somebody the same thing will happen within a business as happens outside it the police will come and arrest the suspect.
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    (Original post by NYU2012)
    Your whole argument is premised on a false idea that rape is a solely criminal matter and you can only be found guilty of rape under a legal burden of "beyond reasonable doubt." This is false.

    You can be accused of, and found guilty of, rape in a civil lawsuit, where the burden of proof is "on the balance of probabilities." Universities operate on the same basis.

    So, what is the issue with a University, as opposed to a civil court, handling the matter?
    So surely it should be taken to a civil court then?

    I think that a university would have less fairness, transparency, accountability in dealing with such matters when compared to a court.
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    (Original post by Bupdeeboowah)
    (1)/(2): Universities often are inconsistent in the consideration of evidence presented, and sometimes do not even allow the supposed rape victim to be cross-examined.
    It's not a court. It's not supposed to function like a court. You're criticizing something for not doing something that it's not supposed to be doing anyway. An employee doesn't have a right to cross-examine his accuser in a business dispute.

    (3): This is precisely why the university system cannot be trusted to administer justice. As opposed to court judgments, the decisions of courts are easily subject to judicial review because no one really has faith in such a system. This just means increased costs for the parties involved, a longer trial, and negative publicity.
    If a University is improperly administering punishments or not doing so when it ought to, it becomes liable. A University has an interest in ensuring compliance with the legal standards that do apply.
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    (Original post by Chief Wiggum)
    So surely it should be taken to a civil court then?
    A civil court is for monetary damages. I doubt I'm going to get much, in most cases, from suing my rapist. Additionally, the rapist would be allowed to remain on campus, take classes with me, etc.

    Civil court is not the solution. Lawyers aren't morons, there's a reason private entities or quasi-private entities have their own rules of regulation and their own forms of administering those rules.

    Your argument is that a matter of private concern should have to become public to become resolved; but this is a breach of privacy rights and a breach of the autonomy rights of the relevant governing body.

    I think that a university would have less fairness, transparency, accountability in dealing with such matters when compared to a court.
    That's partially the point re transparency. A rape victim may not want the fact that they were raped being a matter of public knowledge.

    Furthermore, if a University is improperly administering its rules, it becomes liable.
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    (Original post by limetang)
    You make a good point but... on a purely practical basis, what I'd say is that Universities, Businesses, whatever it may be, aren't equipped to properly investigate accusations of rape and sexual assault. A realistic consequence is many innocent people losing their jobs or being expelled as a result of a business, with a substantially lower standard of proof, and without the investigative resources and protections against the accused that a court has enacting justice.
    If they're innocent, they can appeal to a court.

    Where there is a clear and present danger from somebody the same thing will happen within a business as happens outside it the police will come and arrest the suspect.
    You cannot arrest a rape suspect unless you have evidence to warrant the arrest. If the victim refuses to testify or offer a statement, then you have no grounds for arrest.

    Your conception that criminal court is always the appropriate way to handle things shows a total lack of understanding or sympathy for victims. You're placing a burden on victims to undergo further trauma in order to remedy their situation - something many aren't willing to do.
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    (Original post by NYU2012)
    It's not a court. It's not supposed to function like a court. You're criticizing something for not doing something that it's not supposed to be doing anyway. An employee doesn't have a right to cross-examine his accuser in a business dispute.



    If a University is improperly administering punishments or not doing so when it ought to, it becomes liable. A University has an interest in ensuring compliance with the legal standards that do apply.
    Both your statements are contradictory: the university doesn't have to act like a court, but has to act like one for legal reasons?
 
 
 
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