Georgia Passes Godawful Campus Sexual Violence Bil...

Georgia Passes Godawful Campus Sexual Violence Bill

This post and its links discuss sexual violence.

A new Georgia law limits schools’ abilities to investigate sexual violence on their own campuses.  Directly opposed to Title IX regulations, the law will make it even harder to report, prosecute, and prevent campus sexual assault.

Under Title IX, schools aren’t required to include law enforcement in any sexual assault investigations, which is a good thing: survivors can choose their response, especially when fewer than 3% of rapists ever see a day in prison. The new law, though, not only mandates police involvement but requires police approval for any disciplinary action. Given law enforcement’s low conviction rate and bias against rape survivors, cops are the wrong choice to make these decisions.

And then there’s the standard of proof. The Department of Education currently calls for “a preponderance of evidence” to punish students for sexual assault. It’s a lower standard than “beyond a reasonable doubt” and it’s much more appropriate for cases of sexual violence where consent shouldn’t be assumed to begin with. But the law’s vague promises of “due process protections” are ominous. That could easily mean that Georgia schools will have to prove sexual assault beyond a reasonable doubt to even suspend their students.

The bill’s sponsor, State Rep. Earl Ehrhart, argues that these roadblocks to conviction will protect innocent students. He even made a tone-deaf allusion to The Scarlet Letter when addressing the Georgia House, suggesting that rape accusations ruin students’ lives. This line of thinking has never been very compelling, but with Trump winning a presidential election within weeks of a scandal over the sexual assault he admitted to, I’m even less convinced.

There is a sort of horrible irony to that: Trump’s presidency shows what a misguided bill this is, but it’s also what enables its enforcement. After all, this law is in open opposition to Title IX, but Ehrhart seems to think the current federal government won’t really care about that. I am terrified that he’s right.

("Lisbon," by Adamina)


About Stewart Finnegan

In a perfect world, I'd be a professor who teaches poetry using episodes of mediocre sci-fi procedurals, but for now, I'm just a tutor who watches a lot of TV. I got my BA from Kalamazoo College in English with a focus on creative writing, and someday soon I'd like to go back to academia. Most of my formal teaching training was as a creative writing TA, but I've used those skills professionally more to tutor math and write data entry training materials. And though I'd like to focus my work on what I'm really passionate about (which is Netflix binges and outdated video games, mostly), it's the craft of teaching and writing that keeps me coming back. That's why I'm excited to be a part of High Faluter: I'm finding that academia doesn't just stay in academia. And if I can bring crappy midbrow entertainment into academia too, well, all the better. You can find me on Twitter: @StewartFinnegan