University administrators are revolting against Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, because she dared to suggest that our institutions of higher learning should’t be getting into the business of law. Title IX has lead to what many have called “kangaroo courts” punishing students who are accused of rape on campus, without the benefit of due process or anything remotely similar to competent legal representation. In the worst cases, the accusers have essentially been turned into judge, jury and executioner.
While this system – definitely weighted in favor of accusers – has removed some true predators from campuses nationwide, it has also unfairly punished individuals who were not guilty. Also, the entire Title IX system has failed to give more than a minor increase in something that American students have been hopelessly behind on for years – sexual education.
Title IX is essentially like closing he barn door after the horses have run out, since its focus is primarily on punishing “predators” on far too flimsy evidence. The fact that this is happening in institutions of learning is doubly disturbing. It is true that teaching young people about respect, self-esteem, personal boundaries, sexuality, healthy interpersonal relationships, and overcoming poor parental guidance should start long before students reach college. That doesn’t mean that university administrators should think that offering “sex week” and “safe spaces” fulfills their obligation to at least attempt to use their educational requirements to actually prevent sexual assaults on campus.
But, there won’t be a meaningful conversation about the fact that most students in the U.S. do not learn what they need to know to engage in healthy intimate relationships at any age. Before college, the primary protest is that parents should teach this – they generally don’t. In college, the focus leaps between remedial learning of the basics, and an exploration of advanced sexuality – rarely is there enough content and conversation about respect and boundaries. None of the above tend to include the most basic concepts that land young people into false allegations of rape because they haven’t learned them. Our kids simply don’t learn how to read each others’ sexual responses, social cues, or emotional consequences of sexual activity.
Our college campuses don’t need Title IX. They need to start demanding mandatory comprehensive sexual education starting as early as possible. But, we won’t see that, because it would actually address the real problem – kids on college campuses are not prepared to deal with their own sexuality, and have been taught to expect the adults to protect them. Unfortunately, they should have been taught how to be the adults in the room.