Guest contributors run the gamut, but they all pretty much rock.
Guest Contributor @LLMajer
In the wake of Betsy DeVos’s Title IX announcement, social media looked something like Houston after Hurricane Harvey. Destruction and debris clogged the channels of Twitter as both sides of the debate spewed their arguments with gale-force emotions:
“Due process for the accused!”
As someone who spent the last two years looking into the sexual assault cases at Baylor University, I understand the frustration. Reading the allegations of how a university failed its students who allege they were assaulted resulted in a breakdown of my own emotions. Namely, I found the lack of support for victims astounding. The school, and others in Title IX investigations, remained as inefficient in providing assistance for victims as they were twenty-five years ago, when I was sexually assaulted as a coed.
Back in the day, I did not know I had any rights. I attended a school committed to Old South principles, meaning terrible things never happened to nice girls and you do not talk about said events if they do. But, they don’t, because nice girls don’t get in those messes. Consequently, when the word got out that my attack was “my fault” and my attacker’s fraternity brothers called me a “whore” as I walked to class, I did what a Southern girl with a tarnished tiara was supposed to do: I transferred and never mentioned it again.
It’s safe to say my compassion, and my passion, lies with victims, whom I call survivors. I feel their need to be heard, and to be believed.
That’s not where the story ends for me, though. Today, I have children. Sons, to be exact. Watching the ESPN 30for30 special, Fantastic Lies, featuring the Duke Lacrosse case, terrified the mom in me. I found myself tearing up for the mothers of the men who were falsely accused of rape.
So, whose side am I on, anyway?
The victims…and the accused.
I know police departments and universities fail the victims. Clearly, Title IX needs some work. However, in the interest of fairness for all, due process for the accused is imperative. Allowing schools to adjudicate cases moves the schools into a place they do not belong, and convict falsely accused men. Title IX then serves as a weapon for women with nefarious intent. For those survivors who have real claims of assault, these false accusations make your fight even tougher. Your real claim is seen with skepticism as someone seeking a payout when false claims lead to false convictions. You do not deserve that treatment. You have suffered enough.
I know the pain from sexual assault. I do not want your pain diminished because an environment is created where all survivors are seen as opportunists. Your pain is real. People will believe you. Please let this system be reworked so that the nightmare scenarios you faced do not happen for other survivors. Let’s make sure your attacker is given the basic civil rights accorded to any citizen in our nation. That will make his conviction that much more satisfying when it happens, because the facts of your case will not lie.