Education Secretary Betsy DeVos speaks on campus Thursday
Schools earn failing grades on freedom of speech and due process
Americans can expect more attacks and liberal news from Mainstream Media beginning Thursday as new information exposes more shameful practices of United States colleges and universities. The information centers on freedom of speech and due process destructions.
Since 2015, protests have caused 37 speakers to be disinvited from giving speeches at American colleges and universities—while nearly 40 more were threatened with disinvitations from protesters. According to the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), 28 of the speakers were disinvited due to protests from the political left, five were disinvited due to protests from the political right, and four were unclassified. In the same time period, 39 more speakers were threatened with disinvitations due to protesters, but the speech ultimately took place.
Seven speakers have been disinvited so far in 2017, 24 were disinvited in 2016, and six received that treatment in 2015.
This disinvitation of speakers because of their political views is a challenge to freedom of speech, but it is far from the only challenge. According to FIRE’s report, “Spotlight on Due Process 2017” – a study of 53 top American universities – about 74 percent of schools did not presume a student to be innocent until proven guilty in non-academic cases.
FIRE’S study revealed that only 85 percent of top schools in America received the lowest grades for due process protections and 79 percent of surveyed institutions received a D or F rating for protecting the rights of a student accused of sexual misconduct.
Thursday U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is scheduled to give a major speech at George Mason University in Virginia aimed at Obama-era directives on campus rape in the wake of the FIRE report. Despite criticism and liberal points of view from the New York Times and Politico, Secretary DeVos intends to stop university investigations from being “kangaroo courts.”
Issues of burden of proof have been a major point of contention since the Obama administration released a Dear Colleague letter in 2011 that clarified how institutions should interpret the federal law against gender discrimination, Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972.
This guidance asked colleges to rely on the “preponderance of evidence” standard, meaning there’s enough proof to show an incident more likely occurred than not, versus a higher standard, “clear and convincing.”
Studies show that 148 colleges have formal policies that substantially restrict freedom of speech. Hundreds of others have more limited restrictions. According to FIRE, only 8% of the schools reviewed had policies supporting free speech.
Charles Murray, Milo Yiannopoulos, and Senator John Cornyn (R-Texas) are among those who have been disinvited this year.
“The mission of FIRE is to defend and sustain individual rights at America’s colleges and universities. These rights include freedom of speech, legal equality, due process, religious liberty, and sanctity of conscience—the essential qualities of individual liberty and dignity. FIRE’s core mission is to protect the unprotected and to educate the public and communities of concerned Americans about the threats to these rights on our campuses and about the means to preserve them.”
FIRE maintains a Disinvitation Database that covers more than 300 incidents from 2000 to the present.
FIRE developed the 10 criteria by which it rated the institutions, which could score up to 20 points. It would assign two points if it felt the standard was met, one point if it considered the policy language vague, or none if it was absent. FIRE examined 102 different policies, both the ones relating to sexual misconduct and the procedures for nonacademic cases.
FIRE’s criteria are as follows:
- A clearly stated presumption of innocence, including a statement that a person’s silence shall not be held against them.
- Adequate written notice of the allegations. Adequate notice should include the time and place of alleged policy violations, a specific statement of which policies were allegedly violated and by what actions, and a list of people allegedly involved in and affected by those actions.
- Adequate time to prepare for all phases of the disciplinary process, including notice of the hearing date at least seven business days in advance, and access to all evidence to be considered at the hearing five business days in advance. If the accused student is required to respond to the allegations before the hearing, he or she must receive notice at least five business days in advance.
- A prohibition on conflicts of interest that could compromise the integrity of the process (i.e., advocates cannot serve as investigators or fact-finders, and fact-finders must not hear the appeal).
- The right to impartial fact-finders, including the right to challenge fact-finders’ impartiality.
- Access to and the right to present all relevant inculpatory and exculpatory evidence at hearing.
- The ability to pose relevant questions to witnesses, including the complainant, in real time, and respond to another party’s version of events. If questions are relayed through a panel or chairperson, there must be clear guidelines setting forth when questions will be rejected, and the reason for refusing to pose any rejected question should be documented.
- The active participation of an adviser of choice, including an attorney (at the student’s sole discretion), during the investigation and at all proceedings, formal or informal.
- The meaningful right of the accused to appeal a finding or sanction. Grounds for appeal must include (1) new information, (2) procedural errors, and (3) findings not supported by the record. Appeals must not be decided by the investigator or original fact-finding panel.
- Unanimity of panel must be required for expulsion.