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Courts, Not Campuses, Should Decide Sexual Assault Cases

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Live Transcript
  • Two-Minute Volley Round: Where Will Victims Find Justice?

    Clip: The debaters take 30 seconds each to sum up their thoughts on where victims of sexual assault on college campuses are more likely to find justice: in the court system or in campus tribunals under Title IX.

  • Comparing Sexual Harassment on Campus to the Workplace

    Clip: Jeannie Suk and Stephen Schulhofer elaborate on how workplace sexual harassment can inform how harassment on college campuses should be treated.

  • How Can Colleges Deter Sexual Assault on Campus?

    Clip: Jed Rubenfeld argues that the court system is best for deterring sexual assault on college campuses while Michelle Anderson argues in favor of campus adjudication.

  • 2-Minute Debate: Campus Sexual Assault

    Should courts decide sexual assault cases, or should it be left to the campuses? This debate short is part of a series co-produced by Intelligence Squared U.S. and Newsy.

Debate Details

High-profile cases have recently put campus sexual assault in the spotlight. One question that has repeatedly come up: why are these cases being handled by campuses at all? Title IX requires that every school receiving federal aid must take concrete steps to deal with hostile environments and sexual assault. This leaves colleges and universities with the task of figuring out what policies and procedures to enforce. Proponents say that campus investigations serve a real need, forcing schools to respond to violence and protecting the interests of victims in ways that the criminal justice system may fail. Can schools provide due process for defendants and adequate justice for victims, or do these cases belong in the courts?

The Debaters

For the motion

Jed Rubenfeld

Professor, Yale Law School

Jed Rubenfeld is the Robert R. Slaughter Professor of Law at Yale Law School. His subjects are constitutional law, privacy, First Amendment, and criminal... Read More

Jeannie Suk

Professor, Harvard Law School

Jeannie Suk is a professor of law at Harvard Law School, with expertise in criminal law and procedure, sexual assault, and Title IX. She has published... Read More

Against the motion

Michelle Anderson

Dean, CUNY School of Law

Michelle Anderson, dean at CUNY School of Law, is a leading scholar on rape law. A member of the American Law Institute, she is an adviser to its... Read More

Stephen Schulhofer

Professor, NYU School of Law

Stephen Schulhofer, the Robert B. McKay Professor of Law at New York University School of Law, is one of the nation’s most distinguished scholars... Read More

Where Do You Stand?

For The Motion
  • Universities are not equipped to try or punish crimes, especially those as serious as rape. Though courts may be flawed, creating inferior shadow trials is not the solution.
  • Campus proceedings are often biased and unfair: a lower standard of evidence means more errors; the accused are denied due process, assumed guilty from the start; and schools have a conflict of interest.
  • Universities have adopted an increasingly broad definition of sexual assault that is difficult to prove or punish, and trivializes the severity of rape.
Against The Motion
  • Sexual assault—a form of sex discrimination—creates a hostile environment and violates every student's right to an equal education. Under Title IX, schools have an obligation to deal with these cases.
  • The criminal justice system is deeply flawed and often inadequate in its prosecution of sexual assault. University proceedings, though not a replacement, offer more immediate remedies.
  • Campus cases go beyond what courts can provide: they focus on the victim instead of the state, on equality instead of defense, and on civil rights instead of criminal justice.

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The Research

The Research

The Laws Targeting Campus Rape Culture

Tyler Bishop
September 11, 2015

A new federal policy seeks to tackle the college sexual-assault problem—but can it change the status quo?

Why Schools Handle Sexual Violence Reports

December 31, 1969

In response to coverage of university mistreatment of sexual assault survivors, many observers have wondered why schools handle these crimes at all: why not just leave it to the police? Here’s the answer in a couple easy bullet points.

The College Rape Overcorrection

Emily Yoffe
December 7, 2014

Sexual assault on campus is a serious problem. But efforts to protect women from a putative epidemic of violence have led to misguided policies that infringe on the civil rights of men.

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