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OPINIONS

Letter to the Editor: Alum responds to ASSU and administration letters on sexual assault

To the Editor:

I write regarding two recent articles in The Daily: An open letter to Marc Tessier-Lavigne and Persis Drell from current and former members of ASSU regarding campus sexual assaults, and the administrators’ response to the letter. While sexual crimes are amongst the most heinous crimes in our society and should be punished accordingly, it is my hope that the “stand with survivors” mantra does not distract from the University’s obligation to provide due process of law to all parties involved in sexual assault cases.

As noted by the open letter from the ASSU, the 2011 Dear Colleague letter essentially mandated the implementation of a lower burden of proof – preponderance of the evidence – in sexual assault proceedings. The bare minimum for civil or criminal liability, this using this standard means that hearing officers need only feel that is ever-so-slightly more likely than not that respondents committed the alleged offense to find him/her guilty. In numerical terms, this corresponds to a 50.1 percent burden.

That seems remarkably low when dealing with charges as weighty as sexual misconduct. For both complainants and respondents, charges of sexual assault can be life-altering. For a sobering look at how these situations can impact complainants, read Brock Turner’s victim’s impact statement.

For respondents, accusations of and subsequent violation determinations of sexual assault can be equally devastating. Branded as sexual predators for their entire lives, these individuals often have their educational and career goals shattered as the result of campus judicial processes that are infamous for failing to provide the due process that most accused persons enjoy. These failures are chronicled in The Campus Rape Frenzy: The Attack on Due Process at America’s Universities, which I encourage President Tessier-Lavigne, Provost Drell, and authors of the open letter to read.

At many campuses around the country, respondents are not entitled to a formal hearing prior to disciplinary determinations, and even if they are, are hamstrung in their defense. Contrary to the demands of due process, respondents cannot directly cross-examine complainants, are not entitled to have a voice in the selection of hearing officers, and oftentimes cannot use a lawyer in the same manner as they could in a court of law. At Stanford, training for student hearing officers included guidance that respondents “act[ing] persuasive and logical” is indicative of guilt.

Basic due process protections are all the more necessary in sexual assault proceedings, whose outcome often turns on the credibility of the parties and the biases of the hearing officers. If the consequences for sexual misconduct continue to be expulsion or lengthy suspensions – as they should – then the protections and rights afforded to all parties in the adjudication process should be commensurately high. Lower burdens of proof and diminished due process protections not only place respondents’ personal and professional futures at greater risk, but also leave complainants’ accusations vulnerable to re-litigation and possible reversal.

In addition to “standing with survivors,” I encourage the Stanford administration and ASSU to stand also for the rights of respondents, and more importantly, the truth.

 

-Cameron Miller ’16

  • Joe Citizen

    I agree with the author mostly but want to point out some things:

    First, quoting the author “For a sobering look at how these situations can impact complainants, read Brock Turner’s victim’s impact statement.” .
    I believe there is no good reason to believe Brock Turner’s “Victim” was particularly traumatized by anything that happened.

    I am aware her overwrought “Everywoman” one woman/one act drama piece CLAIMS she was highly traumatized – but all available information indicates this woman, already a college graduate, went to the fraternity party looking to get really wasted and hookup with some random undergraduate – in all sincerity, this is what her actions indicate.
    It can be reasonably suspected her boyfriend had been home for Christmas vacation, but that had ended a few weeks before. In fact, she called him from the party, waking him up in the middle of the night, though he was busy the next day – likely, she was feeling very horny and wished he was there – but he wasn’t, and Brock Turner was – and she was very drunk – under those circumstances, Turner’s account of what happened is very plausible.

    Supporting this view:
    A. Claimed reason for attending frat party does not hold up.
    Emily Doe said her younger sister was home from college and she wanted to get a chance to see her – but in fact, after they went to the party, and younger sister’s friend got sick from overdrinking, younger sister left to take the friend back to another friend’s dorm room – but Emily Doe did not go with them, she stayed at the party alone – so much for spending time with little sister.
    It should also be pointed out – “Tiffany Doe”, the younger sister, was attending a school 3 hours drive from Palo Alto – was it hard for Emily to go visit her or vice versa? NO, not at all. We don’t know how often they saw each other – but there is plenty of reason to doubt the “wanted to spend time with my sister” claim. If that was her motive, why did she stay at the party, alone?
    B. Motive to lie about consenting:
    Reading the police reports, one sees that Emily Doe calls her boyfriend on the East Coast, – apparently there is some drama because she’s waking him up at 3 am his time when he has work to do the next day, and he is in an MBA program at a prestigious school – then is found, apparently passed out, not too long after with Brock Turner.
    We can’t truly know how much Emily Doe is telling the truth – about blacking out and not remembering anything – but taking her at her word, that she remembers nothing, we get her waking up in the hospital – which by the way she admitted to the police she thought was a campus drunk tank – why would she think that? Because she’s woken up in them before? – anyway, she wakes up and does not know what happened – and could reasonably fear her boyfriend will find out about the sex with Turner – so she agrees to cooperate with the police, fearful her boyfriend might suspect her of consenting to it.
    It might be she remembers perfectly well consenting to sex with him – we simply do not know, we have only her claim of not remembering anything – if you think about it, when you wake up in the hospital, being questioned by the cops, if there is ANY possibility there might be trouble – from your boyfriend believing you were cheating, to your sister getting in trouble for drunk driving, to you getting in trouble for public sex and public drunkenness – not necessarily a criminal charge, just the humiliation of having your parents, employer, society know that you did that – then it makes sense to say nothing, and tell the cops you don’t remember. It’s the safest course of action by far.

    Of course it’s possible she remembers nothing – she told the cops she drank to the point of blacking out “4 or 5 times” in the past, but she “usually make it home on my own” – by the way, these statements indicate Turner’s claim of her consenting to sex totally plausible – she is making an unambiguous statement that she is able to function enough to make it home on her own while in a state she will not remember.

    To be very blunt about it,, it’s a lot easier to fall down on the ground and let someone masturbate you than it is to get home on your own – so Turner’s account of what happened is TOTALLY BELIEVABLE AS LONG AS YOU DO NOT PRESUME EMILY DOE WAS INCAPABLE OF CHEATING ON HER BOYFRIEND.
    I understand this is some kind of heresy to many – even those like this writer who hold out hope the new Stanford Administration will be fair to accused men – a forlorn hope I believe, since the old one did not care about that, and the new administration has taken no action to indicate any change- in fact, made a point of virtue -signaling along the same lines – if there is any hope of fairness going forward, it’s from the Trump administration, not the Stanford administration – but this is what the available facts tell us.
    I also wish to point out – it may be Emily Doe sincerely loves her boyfriend – in which case she has a strong motive to lie about consenting to sex with Turner, to keep that love – but she also has a very strong motive to stay with him, because his father is a Dotcom millionaire – he was President of a dot.com type company which was bought up by a huge industry player in a billion dollar deal – the father claims to not have gotten a big share of the deal – but this high power corporate exec. also admitted to having the opportunity to change his life, and became a full time artist -realistically, he probably got no less than $10M in the buyout – that would be only 1% of the buyout price – it was probably much more – 2% would be $20M – and so forth.

  • Joe Citizen

    My previous comment needed some editing but the system is not working for me.

    My point in all this is, it makes no sense to ASSUME Emily Doe is not a promiscuous alcoholic – none at all – everything we know about her -which is very little because of the self imposed media blackout – indicates she is. There were probably 100 young women at the party – one of them ends up black out drunk on the ground having sex with someone – and yet, she’s supposed to be some kind of hero, for writing an angry letter blaming the younger man for everything? It makes no sense.

  • Arnav Mariwala
  • Arnav Mariwala
  • Joe Citizen

    Please tell me one thing – what does “troll” mean? I am asking because the evolution of the word has not followed a logical pattern, which I attribute to the ignorance of the generation which uses internet communications the most, millennials.
    Originally, someone was “trolling” when they put out a comment just to incite anger – this is similar to a fishing technique where a boat moves through the water and the lure is streamed out behind the boat – not casting to one particular fish in other words – just putting something out to get a bite – or, in the case of the internet trolls, to get an angry reaction.
    Nowadays, I see that more and more youth – even from supposedly good schools like Stanford – which I’ve lost a great deal of respect for, for precisely this reason – are using “troll” in a way that has no meaning at all – just an expression of annoyance for anyone they disagree with.
    Generally, the people who get wrapped up in these feminist movements are at the bottom of the heap in terms of intellect and knowledge – but that is not so bad – someone has to be at the bottom – but what makes them contemptible is they have no desire to TRY to gain knowledge or to use their intellect – they are willfully stupid – and those types call anyone they disagree with “troll” because they don’t feel confident they are able to refute what the “troll” is saying.
    For these people, the word “troll” just refers to some ugly monster living under a bridge – but that is not what it originally meant.

    I assure you, my comments are completely sincere – I am not at all “trolling” for a reaction from the most gullible fish in the pond. Instead of reacting emotionally, EXPAND YOUR MIND FOR ONCE, IF YOU CAN.
    PEOPLE DISAGREE WITH YOU AND THE DOMINANT BROCK TURNER MEME – and we have good reasons for doing so –

    WHY DO YOU WANT TO BE A SHEEP? Seriously, why?

    I notice your name, and note the probability is high you are from an immigrant family – what I see in a lot of immigrants, especially the types that go to Stanford and places like that, is a high desire to succeed academically – and a high desire to conform – and be accepted by the mainstream – this leads some of the weaker kids – weaker personalities and weaker minds – into adopting feminists and SJW values – the values of the American leftwingers in their primary school systems, their primary teachers of the American Way – and those of their university professors.

    I am glad you want to get along and assimilate so much but becoming another mindless so-called feminist or SJW is not progress- If you are capable of it, please tell me what part of my comment is not logical, not factual, flawed in whatever way you view it to be flawed.

    The

  • Man with Axe

    Arnav, this sort of reply is not worthy of you.