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Samantha Harris Addresses Campus Sexual Assault on Al Jazeera America

By August 19, 2014

FIRE’s Director of Policy Research Samantha Harris appeared on Al Jazeera America’s “The Week Ahead” segment on Sunday night to talk with Thomas Drayton and victims’ rights advocate Sabrina Kowaleski about what colleges and universities can and should be doing to address the problem of sexual assault on campus.

Kowaleski emphasized the need for more support services from universities, and Samantha agreed, saying that colleges are “in an excellent position to provide support services to victims and to provide Title IX remedies like changing of class schedules and dorm assignments.” Samantha warned, though, that “when it comes to adjudicating the guilt or innocence of someone being accused of a very serious crime, … law enforcement really needs to be taking the lead.”

As FIRE has said before, an institution’s Title IX obligations and its duty to provide a fair hearing to those accused of sexual assault need not be in conflict. Unfortunately, recent pressure on colleges and universities from the federal government is driving many institutions to enact policies that infringe on accused students’ due process rights while not necessarily making campuses any safer. If you missed it, check out Samantha’s recent op-ed in The New York Times for more on why law enforcement should be more involved in campus sexual assault cases.

Watch video of the segment on Al Jazeera America’s website.

Cases: U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights April 4, 2011, Guidance Letter Reduces Due Process Protections