This could be a fluke. Officials at Harvard may repair this obvious malfunction before it does any real damage, such as contaminating other institutions of higher learning. Common sense, after all, can be highly contagious.
But for the moment, don't blink, Harvard has done an astonishing thing. A few days ago, Harvard administrators unveiled a new sexual misconduct policy that gives a nod rather than a wink to due process.
The new policy raises the standard of proof for students who file rape and assault charges, as opposed to the old policy, which more or less allowed a student to accuse another without any evidence. Beginning in the fall, Harvard will ask for what one might expect a school like Harvard to ask for: physical evidence, eyewitnesses and other "sufficient independent corroboration" before they'll investigate a complaint in the university's campus judiciary system.
Absent such details, the school may drop the complaint or refer the accusing student to a district attorney or to a new process the faculty also just approved, called "confidential mediation."
For those who've been paying taxes the past 20 or 30 years - and for whom nearly everything is astonishing these days - things have changed.
Back when I was a student oh so long ago, kids were known to take a little drink, smoke a little dope and make a little love over the noise of war protesters. Not that I did any of the above, mind you; I was in the library translating Hippocrates' notes into Modern Greek.
Nowadays, they tell me, kids get really really stoned, really really drunk, and sex is mostly a rape thing. Hence the need for strict policies defining what rape is, how rape happens (usually large quantities of drugs and/or alcohol are involved, and the word "No" sounds a lot like "N'yeth"), and totalitarian rules that stripped the accused of due-process protection.
At most institutions, young men accused by young women were not permitted an attorney, could not face their accuser or cross-examine witnesses. At Columbia University, which caught flak a few years ago for its Stalinist policy, an accused was allowed only to bring a "morale booster," who otherwise had to keep his trap shut.
All of these measures are the gift of the hardest-core feminists, who, in spite of insisting that women are equal to men, depend for their livelihood on the notion that women are helpless victims of predatory men. Follow the money, specifically the federal Violence Against Women Act, and you'll quickly discover that propagating myths of campus rape is a meal ticket for a variety women's advocacy groups. Congressmen who keep funding the Act are either dense or terrified, or possibly both. Jesse Jackson didn't invent the shakedown.
The biggest myth that won't die is that one of four college women is raped on campuses each year. A drop of Harvard's newfound common sense would reveal this claim to be ludicrous. If 25 percent of Daddy's little girls were being sexually assaulted at college, there wouldn't be any girls on campus.
In fact, the figure was based on spurious research, which included a question using the following definition of rape: "Have you had sexual intercourse when you didn't want to because a man gave you alcohol or drugs." Hmmmm. I can count on two hands, no toes, the number of women who would answer "no" to this question. How about this as an answer: "Yes, we drank a few beers and I wasn't in the mood, but I did it anyway."
Rape is a problem, but it isn't close to the epidemic some rape crisis advocates would have us believe. Some campuses report exactly zero rapes in a given year. Others report one or two. Even huge statewide university systems such as California's reported, for example, 13 rapes in 1995, according to the Department of Education's Campus Crime Statistics.
But isn't 13 a lot, even if there are more that may go unreported? Yes, and it's awful. But it's not close to one in four. Such figures might invite scrutiny and preventive measures, but they hardly justify the hysteria and draconian measures that have emerged in recent years.
We can argue all day about the statistics on date rape. Absent physical evidence, which Harvard now demands, he said/she said doesn't work very well, especially when he/she is/are drunk. But even if date rape
were epidemic, no crime justifies stripping an accused person of his right to due process. Given the existence of such prejudicial, unfair, totalitarian policies, the really perplexing question is, why are guys still going to college?