UD’s New Draconian Sexual-misconduct Policy Violates Everyone’s Rights

September 30, 2015

By Christopher Boorse at DelawareOnline.com

In 2007, the University of Delaware proved that it had no need for a “Path to Prominence” in one area: it was already a national leader in the forced indoctrination and brainwashing of students.

The Office of Residence Life was running what the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) called a “shocking program of ideological reeducation.” As FIRE described it, “the Orwellian program requires the approximately 7,000 students in Delaware’s residence halls to adopt highly specific university-approved views on issues ranging from politics to race, sexuality, sociology, moral philosophy, and environmentalism.”

Having apparently learned nothing from its prior national disgrace, UD now seeks to extend forced ideological indoctrination to its faculty. Official sources, including the acting president, repeatedly stated – until local AAUP made them back down – that all faculty must complete an online training course about UD’s new “sexual-misconduct” policy. To complete the course, some professors are forced to endorse specific propositions, such as a widely disputed statistic on the prevalence of campus sexual assault. Everyone on campus must also promise to abide by the policy, though, as we shall see, no honest or moral person could sincerely agree to do so.

Contrary to newspaper reports, many of its provisions result from local UD decisions, not new federal law or regulations. Its many objectionable features go far beyond anything required by the 2013 Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act, or even anything recommended in Title-IX guidance by the Office for Civil Rights of the US Department of Education. Rather, its drafters seem to have simply crammed into it every horrible idea on activists’ dream list. Here are four of its outrageous provisions.

Universal reporting requirement. All employees (except “confidential resources”) must promptly report to an administrator any stories of sexual misconduct that they hear, regardless of the wishes of the alleged victim.

“Psychological violence.” UD hugely expands the VAWRA terms “domestic violence” and “dating violence,” two categories of crime, to include noncriminal “psychological violence.”

Affirmative consent. Again, UD’s new policy goes far beyond Delaware state law to define a new offense of sex without affirmative consent. Affirmative consent means that in every sexual encounter, each party must receive a clear act of consent, verbal or nonverbal, to each act therein. Some law professors argue, and at least one judge has ruled, that in the college setting, affirmative consent effectively places the burden of proof on the accused.

Censorship authority. The policy states: “Speech appropriately related to curriculum, teaching, scholarship or research is not sexual misconduct.” This word, printed in bold, empowers anyone on campus to ask the Title-IX coordinator to investigate, by an undefined standard, whether any piece of academic speech on the subject of sex or the sexes was “inappropriate.”

This new sexual-misconduct policy flagrantly violates everyone’s rights to liberty, privacy, and academic freedom. UD should start over. A good beginning would be to accept a simple principle: unless there are infractions of state or federal law, the sex lives of students, faculty, and staff are none of a university’s business.

Christopher Boorse is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Delaware, where he began teaching in 1971.

Schools: University of Delaware