It’s very easy to assume that anyone accused of sexual assault must be, if not guilty, at least a bad person. What good person could possibly be accused of something so heinous, the thinking seems to be.
Josephine MacLean, a student at the University of Texas, writes at The Daily Texan that she “participated in the MeToo movement and spent hours trying to understand UT’s complicated sexual assault problem.” But while this student supported the policies and movements that assume guilt, she reconsidered some after her male friend was accused.
“The email came around 4pm on a Friday. My friend spent the weekend agonizing over what he could be accused of – the initial email only stated that he ‘may have been involved in a violation of the Institutional Rules on Student Services and Activities,’” MacLean wrote.
When this male student called the dean’s office to find out what was going on, he was told he could not be helped until he met with Title IX investigators the next month. (Title IX is an anti-sex discrimination statute that is used to adjudicate sexual assault allegations on college campuses.)
Later that week, this male student was again told he could not receive more information – this time because the investigators hadn’t reached out to his accuser, since this complaint was brought by a third party. The alleged victim was not contacted for another three weeks, but when she was, she told the Title IX office that she did not want to participate in the investigation. The case was closed.
MacLean and her friend later learned that the vague email originally sent by the Title IX office was supposed to contain a resource guide and a no-contact order banning the male student from contacting his accuser.
“Facing accusations of assault can be terrifying for anyone,” MacLean wrote. “My friend had so little faith in the system that he couldn’t tell his own mother what he was facing. His reaction and experience with the process made it clear that Title IX cannot serve as the community safety net it is intended as if traumatizes everyone involved in the process.”