Can this column in PJMedia possibly be a fairly rendered reporting of a “sexual assault” hearing at Washington & Lee University? If the story is accurate, it is scary on at least two grounds: (1) the novel theory of “gray” rape, a consensual sexual act later viewed with regret by the woman, is grounds for dismissing a male student from a prestigious Virginia university; and (2) a student can be evicted in a hearing without any pretense of what most Americans would consider a fair trial. Indeed, the W&L hearing resembled nothing so much as an administration-sanctioned kangaroo court.
I hesitate to draw sweeping conclusions from an opinion column until I have seen all sides of the story, although the author, Hans Spakovsky, a legal fellow with the Heritage Foundation, is a serious commentator, not some no-name blogger, and his account is largely consistent with that of a subsequent lawsuit reported by the Roanoke Times. These allegations are far more momentous than the fabulist Rolling Stone UVa fraternity-rape story because they suggest that the administration of a prestigious university has abandoned core principles of American jurisprudence — punishment of a novel, never-bef0re-articulated offense, the right to a fair and open trial, the right to a lawyer, the presumption of innocence, adherence to basic standards of evidence — in its internal proceedings.
The Rolling Stone article inspired an outpouring of investigative journalism by mainstream media publications, most notably the Washington Post. That’s understandable, given the horrifying nature of the putative crime, which confirmed the narrative of a lot of correct-thinking people. The W&L incident, it seems to me, justifies just as much attention. When political correctness hijacks the administrative machinery of a respected university, that’s just as big a story as frat boys run amuck. Let’s hope the Roanoke Times gives this story the full attention it deserves.
Update: Meanwhile, there’s another date rape controversy brewing at Virginia Wesleyan College.
(Hat tip: Tim Wise)
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