Sexual assault and universities

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limetang
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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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Chief Wiggum
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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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limetang
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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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limetang
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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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limetang
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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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Bupdeeboowah
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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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Chief Wiggum
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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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Bupdeeboowah
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(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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limetang
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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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Chief Wiggum
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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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Bupdeeboowah
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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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limetang
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The first point I'd make is that you CAN have sufficient evidence for rape without the testimony of the victim, i.e. if I witness a man raping a woman MY testimony is sufficient to warrant an arrest.

But secondly ... your view shows a lack of care about what happens to the accused. Western justice systems exist to protect the innocent, and you can't do that unless you have sufficient protections granted towards the accused so that they aren't unfairly punished.

This is not me saying that it's easy for rape victims to go through the process of taking their rapist to trial, and it's not me having a lack of sympathy for victims, but a recognition that can never be fair for us to punish someone in any form without proof. And the only standard I am willing to trust when it comes to things as serious as rape are the law courts.

Do not misunderstand me as being callous towards victims, that is not what I am doing, I am just very reasonably afraid of a pernicious idea that seems to be creeping in, that views investigations, and trials as stumbling blocks to punishing bad people, as opposed to them being absolutely vital pillars of justice that protect the innocent.
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Josb
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(Original post by NYU2012)
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.
That's too bad for them, but we cannot punish someone without proof. In the USA, several students who were expelled on rape allegations, but without a fair trial, have sued their university and won a lot of money because of that.

I find it very concerning that a 'human rights lawyer' who boasts so many degrees says that we can punish people for rape without going before a court.


1. It's quite easy to prove that a student has cheated.
2. There is a difference between cheating and a rape. ffs

You are quite dishonest and hide your agenda behind an elaborate verbiage.

Universities cannot replace courts in rape cases. Period.
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Bupdeeboowah
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No. Universities have the choice to not to act like courts in their investigations, but are held to a standard which requires the result of a university investigation to be essentially the same as that of a court; failure to do so may result in a lengthy and potentially expensive judicial review action for all three parties, ignoring other negative externalities. This kind of schizophrenic adjudication system is clearly not the best way to approach cases of rape in university campuses - in fact, to avoid any judicial review actions, it is best for universities to administer justice in the same manner as the courts.
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Bupdeeboowah
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You're being incredibly semantic; I'm sure you know what I have been driving at. Saying that I do not know the actual practices in the US and purposely ignoring what I have been saying is not particularly helpful.

You have in fact described a inherently schizophrenic system. The university's investigation into alleged rape uses civil procedures to expel someone accused of a criminal act.
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Underscore__
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Sexual assault isn't a civil offence. If the university was to say 'we're expelling you for sexually assaulting another student' they'd have to pray the 'defendant' got convicted otherwise it's libel


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Underscore__
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Haha you do realise that there were no links to cases in the UK on that stupid link you included? I'm not sure where you studied tort law but if you were told sexual assault is a civil offence I think you should ask for at least a partial refund.

I've never really looked into my universities policies too deeply but I find it hard to imagine they set out their own actus reus and mens rea for wrongful actions covered by the criminal law. I would say it's more likely they would go with whatever a court ruled but like I said: I've never checked.

Fair comment? Clearly someone's legal knowledge hasn't been updated since 2013


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username457532
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(Original post by Bupdeeboowah)
No. Universities have the choice to not to act like courts in their investigations, but are held to a standard which requires the result of a university investigation to be essentially the same as that of a court; failure to do so may result in a lengthy and potentially expensive judicial review action for all three parties, ignoring other negative externalities. This kind of schizophrenic adjudication system is clearly not the best way to approach cases of rape in university campuses - in fact, to avoid any judicial review actions, it is best for universities to administer justice in the same manner as the courts.
(Original post by Bupdeeboowah)
You're being incredibly semantic; I'm sure you know what I have been driving at. Saying that I do not know the actual practices in the US and purposely ignoring what I have been saying is not particularly helpful.

You have in fact described a inherently schizophrenic system. The university's investigation into alleged rape uses civil procedures to expel someone accused of a criminal act.
You seem to not know what the word you are using actually means. I'm not sure what word you're trying for but schizophrenia is a mental illness where a person suffers from psychosis. It's definitely not something you can use to describe a university's ability to expel students in breach of the rules. Using the name of any disability to say you think something is flawed (which I guess is what you're going for here) is incredibly ableist.
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cole-slaw
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So a student is accused of sexual assault. There is insufficient evidence to bring a criminal case, so the accuser goes to the university instead. The university expels the student based on "balance of probabilities". The student then requests a judicial review. The review finds him not guilty (obviously, as there was insufficient evidence). The student then sues the university for wrongful expulsion.

Sounds like a formula for universities to lose a lot of money.
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Unkempt_One
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NYU2012's arguments seem perfectly clear and I don't see how people are having trouble with understanding them.
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