by Wendy McElroy |

February 4th 2021, 4:41 pm

Biden has vowed to put a “quick end” to the Trump administration’s Title IX regulations and return to Obama-era ones at universitiesIf this happens, there will be no due process for those accused of sexual misconduct

Joe Biden vowed to put a “quick end” to the Trump administration’s Title IX regulations and return to Obama-era ones at universities. 

If this happens, the sexual misconduct hearings will be deeply impacted. These “trials” judge whether those accused of sexual misconduct are innocent or guilty. 

The Obama-era hearings expressed social justice standards that greatly favored an accuser; the Trump-era ones were closer to the Western tradition of due process. The hearings remain a major battleground in the culture war.

Universities are the wellspring of social justice and of the “warriors” who have carried the leftist ideology into the streets and every American institution. With the 2020 riots, the average person now appreciates the threat that social justice poses to traditional Western values such as due process. No compromise is possible between the two world views.

What is the heart of the conflict? Social justice rests on three dogmatic assertions. Gender and race define every individual; discrimination against oppressed races and genders defines America; all social inequality, such as pay differentials, is the result of systemic discrimination. Justice requires skewing society’s law and policies to favor “oppressed” groups in order to forcibly redistribute wealth, status, and opportunities to them from privileged ones—most notably white males. Traditional Western values are individualistic, not collectivistic; every person possesses the same human rights to the same degree, all of which spring from the fundamental right of those who are peaceful to live without interference. Individuals define their own character and are responsible for their actions. Justice means respecting everyone’s equal right to person and property and providing remedy when those rights are violated.

People now associate social justice with street-gang activism or shrill accusations of racism and sexual abuse. But many cultural changes that arrive on campus and flow inevitably into society do so quietly. They come from behind-the-door meetings and obscure organizations that forge policy, such as ATIXA (Association of Title IX Administrators) and Title IX campus compliance offices. These agencies are the bureaucracy of social justice, and ATIXA is a cautionary tale about what happens in the bureaucratic shadows. It is happening right now.

Under the Trump administration, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos pushed back some of the most damaging aspects of social justice at universities. Campus sexual abuse hearings became a key cultural battleground with the Obama administration’s notorious 2011 “Dear Colleague” letter; it prioritized the rights of accusers by denying due process to those accused. It did not have the force of law, but it had the force of funding; schools that did not comply could lose their federal money, including student loans, upon which almost all universities depend.

The outcome was predictable. Kangaroo courts denied basic rights like the presumption of innocence to an accused; the accused were overwhelmingly male. On the basis of flimsy evidence and biased procedures, young men (and some women) were found guilty and confronted the destruction of their reputations, careers, and futures. Those who sued the universities frequently won or settled out of court. But the hearings rolled on. DeVos returned some basics of due process to the procedures, including the right of an accused to know the exact charges against him and to view the evidence—niceties that were often withheld.

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