The mother of a UVA student who reported her rape summarized this position thusly: "In what world do you get kicked out for cheating, but if you rape someone, you can stay?"What, then, ought university administrators do (in addition to encouraging the faculty to keep the students too busy to drink?)
That sentiment makes for a great outrage quote, but it’s entirely wrong. Cheating and raping are not related things. The former is in academic infraction deserving an academic punishment, like expulsion; the latter is a violent crime deserving a rigorous police investigation. Students who are confessed rapists shouldn’t be expelled, they should be put in jail.
Merely ejecting rapists from a campus community would be a terrible approach. Rapists, experts tell us, are serial predators. They are public health hazards. Shuffling them from community to community, rather than confronting their misdeeds in a criminal setting, would allow them to claim additional victims. Do the bureaucrats at the Department of Education—who are now mandating that universities at least consider expelling rapists—really sleep any better at night with the knowledge that they have made it more difficult for violent criminals to earn degrees?
Treating rape as akin to plagiarism, or copying off someone else’s test, trivializes violence against women. What UVA administrators did, in listening to students’ accusations and failing to report them to police time and time again, is worse than trivializing: it’s an outright cover-up.
If the government and the colleges were truly interested in addressing the campus rape epidemic, there is one big thing they could do: work together to come up with a saner drinking age. Older students, who enjoy legal access to booze, are the distributors of alcohol on campus; underage students who want to drink have to hit the frats and house-party scenes and accept mystery drinks from people they don’t know. One way to curb the abuses of fraternity parties and campus binge-drinking culture is to give 18-year-olds legal access to bars, something a repeal of the National Minimum Drinking Age Act would accomplish.Rather than, the article notes, the violations of due process that pass for internal student conduct codes.
Absent that proactive step, the best way to confront campus rape is to treat the issue with the seriousness it deserves and make violent crime the business of the normal criminal justice system.