Readers React: Dealing with sexual assault

UO students
University of Oregon students demonstrate on campus last month over a sexual assault case.
(Chris Pietsch / Associated Press)

To the editor: I applaud Sandy Banks’ courageous and cogent commentary (“A campus judgment call,” Column, June 10). For some time now the campus sexual assault pendulum has been inching its way away from the historical bias that favored males, but it has now swung too far in the other direction, as evidenced by the recent federal mandate and by a strong ideology on campuses that favors females to such a degree that it sometimes demands we believe everything a sexual assault accuser says.

I am keenly aware of the reason many campuses needed to reform their policies and practices regarding sexual assault, and I support such changes. However, replacing one bias with another brings us no closer to truth or to justice, and criticizing the pendulum swing has become a kind of heresy.

Men and women should be held accountable equally for their actions, and to exempt women from that accountability is, ironically, just another way of infantilizing females.

Yonie Harris, Santa Barbara
The writer is a former dean of students at UC Santa Barbara.



To the editor: When schools ignore due process, the results are often arbitrary and absurd. (“More college men are fighting sex assault cases,” June 8)

The court record shows Occidental College student “Jane Doe” giving consent to my client, identified as “John Doe,” in texts before the encounter and sending smiley faces afterward. John Doe got consent in writing and was still expelled by Occidental.

A double standard — where alcohol excuses only female student behavior, and punishes only the male student when both were intoxicated — is gender discrimination and violates Title IX.


Title IX coordinator Ruth Jones says Occidental excludes attorneys so the process isn’t too “adversarial.” What could be more so than being falsely accused of sexual assault and facing alone the school’s Title IX team of PhDs, former prosecutors and hired attorneys?

With no rules of evidence and no way to question selective memory loss and incapacity, no wonder students turn to the courts. The only chance for a fair hearing is the courtroom, where such cases belong in the first place.

Mark M. Hathaway, Los Angeles