‘The Detroit News’ Editorial: Preserve Due Process in Campus Sex Assault Cases

May 20, 2016

On Wednesday, The Detroit News editorial board called for “constant vigilance to preserve constitutional rights of all parties” involved in sexual misconduct investigations and hearings on college and university campuses, in part because the “looser standards” for investigating and adjudicating campus allegations are “starting to spill over to criminal investigations.”

Last week, the American Law Institute (ALI) rejected an affirmative consent standard for defining sexual assault in the Model Penal Code. The Detroit News agreed with ALI that “yes means yes” or affirmative consent laws and policies—like those passed by state legislatures in New York, California, and, most recently, Connecticut—clearly deny due process rights for the accused:

It doesn’t take much imagination to see how awkward “yes means yes” would make most romantic encounters. One wrong move without receiving explicit permission could land someone in court—or prison.

The Detroit News editorial went on to discuss the hefty price tag attached to universities that now find themselves defending unfair procedures in court as more and more students file lawsuits alleging colleges violated their due process rights.

FIRE’s legislative team has met with members of the Michigan legislature to discuss our concerns with affirmative consent laws as well as the lack of due process protections for students involved in the campus disciplinary process. As more state policymakers continue to focus on the very important and complex issue of campus sexual assault, FIRE will continue to advise them of the importance of due process protections and fairness for all students involved.

Read the rest of the editorial on The Detroit News’ website.