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Old 12-29-2019, 06:48 PM
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How would you handle this (hypothetical) rape accusation?


Loosely inspired by #MeToo news stories of late:


Suppose you are president (or whichever administrator ultimately makes the final decisions) at a university. A woman - a student in your university - comes to you and claims that she has been raped by a man - also a university student. The following circumstances apply:


1. There are no witnesses to the alleged crime.
2. Both students are people with clean backgrounds. The man has never been known to do anything like this, and the woman has never been known to lie.
3. No DNA/forensic evidence has been obtained or examined, because the accuser doesn't want to go to the police. She wants the school to take disciplinary action, but wants to avoid the courts and their associated hassle.
4. There are no state/federal laws that mandate that you take a particular course of action (i.e., "you must give the accused the benefit of presumption of innocence" or something like that.)
5. The woman vehemently insists that a rape has happened, and the man equally vehemently denies that such a thing has ever happened.
6. The school itself has no policies or precedents that lay out what you are to do, or not do, in this situation.



What would you do in this situation?
  #2  
Old 12-29-2019, 06:55 PM
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Order a serious and detailed investigation, if the accuser agrees that this is acceptable. That's always the answer for such accusations (in addition to informing law enforcement, if the accuser agrees). If she doesn't want an investigation, than don't conduct an investigation. If she wants some sort of punishment without an investigation, then inform her that I'm unable to take any action without conducting an investigation to determine what occurred.

What answer were you expecting? Were you under the impression that this is a challenging or difficult scenario to deal with? It appears trivially easy to me. Serious accusations require serious investigations, period, as long as the accuser is okay with that. Any formal punitive or disciplinary action to be taken must follow an investigation, period.

Last edited by iiandyiiii; 12-29-2019 at 06:58 PM.
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Old 12-29-2019, 06:59 PM
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What is it with incels and the never ending rape scenarios to solve?
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Old 12-29-2019, 07:00 PM
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Originally Posted by iiandyiiii View Post
Order a serious and detailed investigation, if the accuser agrees that this is acceptable. That's always the answer for such accusations (in addition to informing law enforcement, if the accuser agrees). If she doesn't want an investigation, than don't conduct an investigation. If she wants some sort of punishment without an investigation, then inform her that I'm unable to take any action without conducting an investigation.

What answer were you expecting? Were you under the impression that this is a challenging or difficult scenario to deal with? It appears trivially easy to me. Serious accusations require serious investigations, period, as long as the accuser is okay with that. Any formal punitive or disciplinary action to be taken must follow an investigation, period.
OK, but what is there in the outlined scenario to investigate? A university wouldn't be equipped to do DNA/forensic testing like a police lab (and such evidence may have become biologically useless by this time point.) There are no external witnesses to question, as mentioned above. Since both students have clean backgrounds, as mentioned, they could both produce a bevy of acquaintances to testify to their good character. It is her word vs. his word. What would an investigation yield that is not already present in the above hypothetical?
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Old 12-29-2019, 07:08 PM
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Since this is only Post #5 thus far, I hope I can still guide the direction of the thread a bit before it gets hijacked:

I hope this thread can be about university-administration handling of such cases, and investigations specifically, rather than veering off into unrelated Supreme Court/Trump/Kavanaugh/only-tangentially-related-#MeToo territory.
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Old 12-29-2019, 07:21 PM
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What is it with incels and the never ending rape scenarios to solve?
Because for a certain type of dude, the only interesting part of rape is the dude. The girl is just a prop. And the only way it's really, really interesting is if the story could be about THEM, and since they aren't rapists, it must be a woman crying rape.

To the OP:

Who knows what an investigation would uncover? That's the point of an investigation. One of them is lying. One of them will have holes in their story. One of the ways our culture enables rape is by chucking things into the "he said, she said" category far too soon.

You are constructing a strawman, a massively over-simplified scenario that doesn't match the real world because it's never simple.

I mean, this is like "hypothetically, if one of the foods in the student union caused catastrophic intestinal collapse, but you don't know which one and have no way to tell, what should you do?" Who cares? It won't ever be like that.
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Old 12-29-2019, 07:55 PM
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OK, but what is there in the outlined scenario to investigate? A university wouldn't be equipped to do DNA/forensic testing like a police lab (and such evidence may have become biologically useless by this time point.) There are no external witnesses to question, as mentioned above. Since both students have clean backgrounds, as mentioned, they could both produce a bevy of acquaintances to testify to their good character. It is her word vs. his word. What would an investigation yield that is not already present in the above hypothetical?
The administrator couldn't possibly know this stuff until they actually conducted an investigation, including talking to old girlfriends (and boyfriends), background checks, etc. That's the first step, barring preference from the accuser that they don't want any investigation.

What's your point? That it's theoretically possible for an investigation to find nothing? Of course that's possible, even if it's very unlikely (if it's a thorough investigation). So what? Yes, it's possible that all the right actions might not yield the facts of the situation. It's a shame that this is a non-zero possibility, but sometimes mysteries stay mysterious.

I don't understand what you're trying to get at here. Care to try and enlighten me?

Last edited by iiandyiiii; 12-29-2019 at 07:56 PM.
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Old 12-29-2019, 08:12 PM
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I don't understand what you're trying to get at here. Care to try and enlighten me?
I thought it was obvious from reading the thread title what the OP was getting at. The post was just trying to set up the gotcha.
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Old 12-29-2019, 08:25 PM
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Call the Police, let them handle it.
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Old 12-29-2019, 08:30 PM
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Originally Posted by iiandyiiii View Post
The administrator couldn't possibly know this stuff until they actually conducted an investigation, including talking to old girlfriends (and boyfriends), background checks, etc. That's the first step, barring preference from the accuser that they don't want any investigation.

What's your point? That it's theoretically possible for an investigation to find nothing? Of course that's possible, even if it's very unlikely (if it's a thorough investigation). So what? Yes, it's possible that all the right actions might not yield the facts of the situation. It's a shame that this is a non-zero possibility, but sometimes mysteries stay mysterious.

I don't understand what you're trying to get at here. Care to try and enlighten me?
Right, it was poorly phrased on my part. My hypothetical facts were provided so that such things were known. Good point.

Suppose that the investigation does not yield a conclusive outcome - it still isn't known either way what happened. What should administration do?
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Old 12-29-2019, 08:30 PM
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What is it with incels and the never ending rape scenarios to solve?
Thatís enough, Chingon. Thatíll earn you a warning. Please donít do it again.
  #12  
Old 12-29-2019, 08:35 PM
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Right, it was poorly phrased on my part. My hypothetical facts were provided so that such things were known. Good point.

Suppose that the investigation does not yield a conclusive outcome - it still isn't known either way what happened. What should administration do?
Dont investigate, call the Police, they will investigate.
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Old 12-29-2019, 08:44 PM
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OP - it may surprise you to learn that Universities have police departments and procedures for dealing with these complaints. A school with a good policy further calls the local city police if the complainant wants to proceed. Schools with bad policies frequently do absolutely nothing. I favor the first approach.


For the record, you brought up #MeToo in the first line of your OP.
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Old 12-29-2019, 08:46 PM
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OP - it may surprise you to learn that Universities have police departments and procedures for dealing with these complaints. A school with a good policy further calls the local city police if the complainant wants to proceed. Schools with bad policies frequently do absolutely nothing. I favor the first approach.


For the record, you brought up #MeToo in the first line of your OP.
Thanks - good info. I had always been under the impression that those were semi-police units but didn't actual wield the true legal power of "actual" cops. Guess I'm reading and learning.
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Old 12-29-2019, 09:02 PM
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Suppose that the investigation does not yield a conclusive outcome - it still isn't known either way what happened. What should administration do?
If they conducted a serious and thorough investigation at the accuser's request, then that was the right thing. If the accuser agrees, they should refer this to local law enforcement. If the accuser doesn't want them to, they shouldn't.

I still don't understand what your point is. Is your point that administrations shouldn't punish people just because a student says they should? If so, okay. Why is this an interesting question? Do you have any cite that administrations are taking punitive or disciplinary action based on nothing more than the request of a student?

This just seems like the setup for a dumb gotcha.
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Old 12-29-2019, 09:08 PM
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If they conducted a serious and thorough investigation at the accuser's request, then that was the right thing. If the accuser agrees, they should refer this to local law enforcement. If the accuser doesn't want them to, they shouldn't.

I still don't understand what your point is. Is your point that administrations shouldn't punish people just because a student says they should? If so, okay. Why is this an interesting question? Do you have any cite that administrations are taking punitive or disciplinary action based on nothing more than the request of a student?

This just seems like the setup for a dumb gotcha.
It's not a gotcha. I'm asking what people would consider to be the appropriate action if a university and/or investigation can't figure out well enough what has happened.

In the past, we had people argue for "presumption of innocence" akin to that afforded to defendants in a criminal trial, which would be an almost impossible burden of proof for a less-formal, less-equipped university to attain. (Some suggested the same with Kavanaugh in the Senate hearing for SCOTUS, which was also an unrealistic level to attain, different situation, different approach.)
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Old 12-29-2019, 09:42 PM
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It's not a gotcha. I'm asking what people would consider to be the appropriate action if a university and/or investigation can't figure out well enough what has happened.
What should they do if they don't know what happened? Try and find out what happened. If they can't, then I guess they'll have to live with that mystery. Sucks, but that's life sometimes.

Seriously, what debate did you think was to be had here?

Quote:
In the past, we had people argue for "presumption of innocence" akin to that afforded to defendants in a criminal trial, which would be an almost impossible burden of proof for a less-formal, less-equipped university to attain. (Some suggested the same with Kavanaugh in the Senate hearing for SCOTUS, which was also an unrealistic level to attain, different situation, different approach.)
I thought you didn't want to bring up Kavanaugh (or other such accusations).
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Old 12-29-2019, 10:05 PM
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What should they do if they don't know what happened? Try and find out what happened. If they can't, then I guess they'll have to live with that mystery. Sucks, but that's life sometimes.

Seriously, what debate did you think was to be had here?
What results flow from the mystery? Is the accused punished?
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Old 12-29-2019, 10:10 PM
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What results flow from the mystery?
What results could possibly "flow from the mystery"? Maybe a monkey throws his poop? Maybe a bear rides a bicycle?

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Is the accused punished?
By who? Based on what?

Is this whole thing just point out the incredibly obvious point that colleges shouldn't (and don't, AFAICT) discipline or sanction students based on nothing more than the wishes of another student?
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Old 12-29-2019, 10:14 PM
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Call the Police, let them handle it.
Yep, the college isn't an investigative body. Refer it to people who are. Also refer the young lady and gentlemen to campus counselors or whatever mental health services are available. Longer term. I would probability suspend the dude if the police/DA find enough evidence to indict rather than waiting until the end of the trial but would let him back if not convicted.
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Old 12-29-2019, 10:14 PM
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What results could possibly "flow from the mystery"? Maybe a monkey throws his poop? Maybe a bear rides a bicycle?



By who? Based on what?

Is this whole thing just point out the incredibly obvious point that colleges shouldn't (and don't, AFAICT) discipline or sanction students based on nothing more than the wishes of another student?
The point is another futile attempt to get you to answer the simple question. You've done your investigation. It has produced the "mystery" you talk about. The accuser is demanding expulsion and criminal prosecution. The accused maintains his innocence.

What do you, as the responsible party do once you cannot ascertain who is telling the truth? There is no gotcha. If the answer is "We do nothing to the accused as we do not have enough evidence" then great, if not, then I guess things are worse than I thought.
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Old 12-29-2019, 10:16 PM
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I give up. I guess iiandyiiii is right, the OP wasn't structured/written well.
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Old 12-29-2019, 10:30 PM
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The point is another futile attempt to get you to answer the simple question. You've done your investigation. It has produced the "mystery" you talk about. The accuser is demanding expulsion and criminal prosecution.
That makes it easy, then -- report it to local law enforcement and the local district attorney. They will conduct an investigation and determine if a legal case against criminal conduct is feasible. Sometimes they make mistakes, but that's certainly the right course of action in this scenario.

Quote:
What do you, as the responsible party do once you cannot ascertain who is telling the truth?
Presuming this oddly worded sentence means "what should I do if I conclude that there is no possible way to determine the truth of the matter?", then I would refer it to more capable investigators (if the accuser agrees); if the accuser doesn't want it referred, then there's no more action I could take. If you're asking "do I punish student A solely because student B wants student A to be punished", then the answer is "no".
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Old 12-29-2019, 11:14 PM
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It is possible to provide support (medical/mental health) to the victim/affected person without villanizing/punishing the respondent.

This is usually what ends up happening if there is no evidence/criminal charges, etc.
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Old 12-29-2019, 11:57 PM
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I would realize that as a university president I lack the skills to address this situation. As others have said, the university should call in some professional investigators like the police. That should be the policy for all accusations of serious crimes.
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Old 12-30-2019, 12:02 AM
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I call the police. Itís their job. Not the universities.
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Old 12-30-2019, 12:43 AM
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Dont investigate, call the Police, they will investigate.
That's not an option. The police are conducting a criminal investigation while the school is conducting an investigation to see if anyone has violated their policy. The police may investigation and the prosecuting attorney might decide to take no action because a trial will not likely lead to a guilty verdict. The school might investigation and finding that the preponderance of evidence support's the woman's claim take action against the male student even if no criminal charges were filed.
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Old 12-30-2019, 12:52 AM
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Assuming any investigation by the university and/or law enforcement is fruitless, the best course of action is to make sure the two students are separated and they won't share any of the same classes nor will they speak to one another.
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Old 12-30-2019, 08:39 AM
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Assuming any investigation by the university and/or law enforcement is fruitless, the best course of action is to make sure the two students are separated and they won't share any of the same classes nor will they speak to one another.
I'm hoping you'll flesh this out. That sounds like, effectively, a restraining order on one party or another. Or both. It could force one to drop a class or vacate a dorm. Or prevent one from registering for necessary classes.

It would really suck to have someone who raped you in your classes. It would also suck to have someone who you didn't rape prevent you from taking classes. I'm not seeing a clear best course of action here, but maybe you feel otherwise.
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Old 12-30-2019, 08:49 AM
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Honestly, would you want to be in a class with someone who falsely accused you of rape? Of course they should be separated.
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Old 12-30-2019, 09:07 AM
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That's not an option. The police are conducting a criminal investigation while the school is conducting an investigation to see if anyone has violated their policy. The police may investigation and the prosecuting attorney might decide to take no action because a trial will not likely lead to a guilty verdict. The school might investigation and finding that the preponderance of evidence support's the woman's claim take action against the male student even if no criminal charges were filed.
The school has conducted it's investigation and found nothing. Read the OP, there is no other policy or procedure for them to follow. There is an accusation of a serious crime though, and the administrator has an obligation to report that to the police so that the school is not participating in obstruction of justice.
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Old 12-30-2019, 09:14 AM
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Honestly, would you want to be in a class with someone who falsely accused you of rape? Of course they should be separated.
How does that address the stated problem of who should leave classes that they both want to take?
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Old 12-30-2019, 09:18 AM
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If the woman doesn't want to go to the police, the university will have to investigate as best it can, I suppose. What stories do the respective parties tell? Does the man say "yes we had sex but it was consensual" or "no, we never had sex"? Did the woman mention it to anyone else at the time?

If the investigation truly doesn't come up with anything, or if the woman doesn't want to cooperate with the investigation, then nothing can be done.

And, no offense, but this -
Quote:
There are no state/federal laws that mandate that you take a particular course of action (i.e., "you must give the accused the benefit of presumption of innocence" or something like that.)
isn't necessarily realistic. If the university takes any adverse action, against either party, it's not necessarily going to be a slam dunk for either - the courts have ruled both ways.

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Old 12-30-2019, 09:59 AM
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Honestly, would you want to be in a class with someone who falsely accused you of rape? Of course they should be separated.
"They should be separated" doesn't tell us the mechanism. The school hasn't made a determination that either party has done anything wrong. So who is forced to drop the class? That's not me JAQing; I want to understand precisely how a proposed (or actual) policy is supposed to operate, because I'm struggling to construct one on my own.

Last edited by Ruken; 12-30-2019 at 10:00 AM.
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Old 12-30-2019, 10:15 AM
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Does the college have the authority not to report it to the police?
Does campus police have the proper tools and training to investigate a rape?
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Old 12-30-2019, 10:29 AM
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If I get the scenario police have investigated and no charges brought due to lack of corroborating evidence or she refuses to cooperate with an investigation.

When class conflict exists she gets schedule precedence. He should get accommodations so that he is not excessively impacted.

Last edited by DSeid; 12-30-2019 at 10:32 AM.
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Old 12-30-2019, 10:40 AM
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If I get the scenario police have investigated and no charges brought due to lack of corroborating evidence or she refuses to cooperate with an investigation.

When class conflict exists she gets schedule precedence. He should get accommodations so that he is not excessively impacted.
For upper-level courses it's common for only one section to be available, once per year. I don't know what accomodations you can offer that don't delay graduation a year. Based on an accusation with either no corroborating evidence or not enough to make any determination of a crime or a policy violation.
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Old 12-30-2019, 10:41 AM
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The school has conducted it's investigation and found nothing. Read the OP, there is no other policy or procedure for them to follow. There is an accusation of a serious crime though, and the administrator has an obligation to report that to the police so that the school is not participating in obstruction of justice.
I read the OP. But youíll note that I replied to another personís post addressing their statement.
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Old 12-30-2019, 10:49 AM
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I'm hoping you'll flesh this out. That sounds like, effectively, a restraining order on one party or another. Or both. It could force one to drop a class or vacate a dorm. Or prevent one from registering for necessary classes.
Most universities should be able to work around those restrictions without having a significant impact on the student. Alternative class assignments, alternative means of accessing learning material like lectures, etc., etc.


Quote:
It would really suck to have someone who raped you in your classes. It would also suck to have someone who you didn't rape prevent you from taking classes. I'm not seeing a clear best course of action here, but maybe you feel otherwise.
Best course of action doesnít always leave everyone perfectly happy. In an employment situation, best practice is to separate the parties immediately with the bulk of any inconvenience shouldered by the accused.
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Old 12-30-2019, 10:53 AM
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For upper-level courses it's common for only one section to be available, once per year. I don't know what accomodations you can offer that don't delay graduation a year. Based on an accusation with either no corroborating evidence or not enough to make any determination of a crime or a policy violation.
If no creative accommodating can be done then one or the other needs to have negative impact. Iíd err on avoiding negative impact to her as in the statistical universe she is more likely the truthful one. Not beyond benefit of doubt legally true but enough to tip the scale on this.
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Old 12-30-2019, 10:57 AM
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Most universities should be able to work around those restrictions without having a significant impact on the student. Alternative class assignments, alternative means of accessing learning material like lectures, etc., etc.
You clearly had a very different college experience than I did. There were no "alternative" anything after freshman organic chemistry other than waiting an entire year for the required classes to come up.


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Best course of action doesnít always leave everyone perfectly happy. In an employment situation, best practice is to separate the parties immediately with the bulk of any inconvenience shouldered by the accused.
You haven't made the case for why the "best" course of action is to kick a student out of class, dorm, etc., based solely on an accusation.
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Old 12-30-2019, 11:00 AM
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If no creative accommodating can be done then one or the other needs to have negative impact. Iíd err on avoiding negative impact to her as in the statistical universe she is more likely the truthful one. Not beyond benefit of doubt legally true but enough to tip the scale on this.
One or the other does not need to have a negative impact. You are not required to kick anyone from a class.
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Old 12-30-2019, 11:05 AM
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You clearly had a very different college experience than I did. There were no "alternative" anything after freshman organic chemistry other than waiting an entire year for the required classes to come up.
Clearly. So given how the class situation can vary radically from school to school youíll no doubt appreciate the difficulty of coming up with a single answer applicable to all situations.


Quote:
You haven't made the case for why the "best" course of action is to kick a student out of class, dorm, etc., based solely on an accusation.
Best in that it protects the the accuser from further harm and protects the school from lawsuits.
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Old 12-30-2019, 11:10 AM
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You haven't made the case for why the "best" course of action is to kick a student out of class, dorm, etc., based solely on an accusation.
I don’t see why anyone should make the case one way or the other.

This is why I hate hypotheticals. They assume certainty, and that all the relevant factors can be laid out in a few lines, as if that is ever going to be true in a real-world rape case, and then the people putting forward or endorsing the hypotheticals are shocked—shocked I tell you—that the opposition has no answer, or at least no perfect solution, for the hypothetical as posed.

Personally, I strain to envision a university that couldn’t, in extraordinary circumstances that you probably never personally encountered because you were probably never put into the precise hypothetical situation demanded of this thread, come up with a way to ensure that at least two offerings of a necessary course were made or, failing that, that something couldn’t be worked out with the professor.

Last edited by ASL v2.0; 12-30-2019 at 11:11 AM.
  #45  
Old 12-30-2019, 11:14 AM
Ruken is offline
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Originally Posted by Odesio View Post
further harm
Bias, much? The only harm that we're certain of is on the student you're kicking out of class.
  #46  
Old 12-30-2019, 11:18 AM
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3. No DNA/forensic evidence has been obtained or examined, because the accuser doesn't want to go to the police. She wants the school to take disciplinary action, but wants to avoid the courts and their associated hassle.
This is the part of the hypothetical that sticks out to me.

Its a rape accusation, a very serious accusation of a very serious crime but she does not want to go to the police? She wants the university to punish the guy but does not want the fullest investigation possible of what actually happened?

That doesn't work for me at all. To my mind a pre-requisite of the university doing anything at all is the crime being reported to the police and their investigation taking precedence. Frankly, anything else is bullshit and ripe for abuse.
  #47  
Old 12-30-2019, 11:20 AM
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Bias, much? The only harm that we're certain of is on the student you're kicking out of class.
I think youíre confused. I didnít say anyone needed to be kicked out of class. Youíre the one insisting thatís the only method to separate them.
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  #48  
Old 12-30-2019, 11:21 AM
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Does anyone know if university employees are mandatory reporters?
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  #49  
Old 12-30-2019, 11:23 AM
Shodan is offline
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If I get the scenario police have investigated and no charges brought due to lack of corroborating evidence or she refuses to cooperate with an investigation.
According to the OP
Quote:
the accuser doesn't want to go to the police. She wants the school to take disciplinary action, but wants to avoid the courts and their associated hassle.
So the police have not investigated. I would assume that the woman will cooperate to some degree with a university investigation. The accused man denies it, so he is apparently aware of the accusation.

But the investigation by the university is where it gets complicated. Does the accused have the right to confront his accuser? What is the standard of evidence - a preponderance of the evidence? Can either side subpoena witnesses? Do people have to testify under oath? What, if any, consequences follow if the accused refused to cooperate with the investigation?

Or, maybe it would go down like this. I, the university administrator, have an investigation. I interview the woman, and the man.

Woman: "I was at a party. I had a few beers - I don't remember exactly how many. I was sort of flirting with a guy at the party. After a while, we went into a bedroom, we were kissing, he wanted to go further, I said No but he raped me anyway. I didn't say anything at the time because I was ashamed. After a few weeks, I recognized that I didn't do anything wrong, so I decided to confront him. I want him kicked out of the university."

Man: "I was at a party. I had a few beers - I don't recall how many. I was flirting with a woman there. After a while, we went into a bedroom and started kissing. I unhooked her bra, she undid my pants, and we had sex. Afterwards, I asked if I could see her again, but she said No, she would rather just forget all about it. Now I find she is accusing me of rape. It wasn't rape, it was consensual."

How does the university proceed from there?

Regards,
Shodan
  #50  
Old 12-30-2019, 11:25 AM
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There is an accusation of physical assault-It should be reported to the police.
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