In the ongoing conversation about sexual assault on college campuses, two groups have risen above the others. On one side, there are those who believe that lawmakers need to do more to protect the rights of students and victims. They believe that tougher legislation is the answer as it will better address instances of sexual assault and violence by giving victims a better sense that justice has been served.
On the other side though are people who believe that tougher legislation would give colleges too much authority over criminal cases. On many campuses across the nation, including here in Missouri, campus procedures do not take into consideration a person’s right to due process, oftentimes resulting in a violation of an accused person’s civil rights.
As you may know from following our blog regularly, changes to legislation should not only take into account a victim’s rights after a sexual assault but the rights of the accused as well. As we hinted at in back in June, unfounded accusations or false accusations can severely impact an accused person’s life, oftentimes resulting in unfair treatment from society. In order to prevent this from happening, any changes to legislation would need to take this into account and protect the rights of all parties involved in a sexual assault allegation.
Some lawmakers believe that S.590, also referred to as the Campus Accountability and Safety Act, walks this fine line because it affords victims with the protections they want while addressing the need for due process. But is does this belief hold true?
There is one main inclusion that suggests S.590 may not walk the fine line as promised and it is a provision that would give victims the choice over whether or not to involve police after making a sexual assault claim. Because of this provision, an accused person might find their right to due process abused as most campuses do not apply the same preponderance of evidence that the criminal justice system is held to.
So is S.590 really the balanced legislation some say it is? We’ll leave that for our Columbia readers to decide.