Harvard Law professors Jeannie Suk and Janet Halley are outspoken critics of current campus sexual assault policies. One reason for their opposition is that most of the accusations they have seen have been made against minority students.
Suk, writing for the New Yorker, outlined the past “historical bias against victims,” who were not believed, but suggested that bias not be replaced “with the tenet that an accuser must always and unthinkingly be fully believed.” Swinging the pendulum in this way has played right into another crime narrative — the overcriminalization of black men.
“And if we have learned from the public reckoning with the racial impact of over-criminalization, mass incarceration, and law enforcement bias, we should heed our legacy of bias against black men in rape accusations,” Suk wrote. “The dynamics of racially disproportionate impact affect minority men in the pattern of campus sexual-misconduct accusations, which schools, conveniently, do not track, despite all the campus-climate surveys.”
She wrote that she and Halley have both witnessed a majority of sexual assault complaints at their school being lodged against minorities.
This should be troubling — not only to groups like Black Lives Matter and those concerned with racial injustices, but also to those wary of overcriminalization and denying due process.
We’ve seen this scenario play out over and over again in recent years. Far from the stereotype of the white fraternity brother raping an unsuspecting young woman, accused students these days are often minority and foreign students, many accused by white women.
Jameis Winston of Florida State University is a black man who was accused by a white woman. Peter Yu is a Chinese citizen who was accused by a white woman. There was a Syrian student nearly sent back to a country facing a civil war after being accused. Lewis McLeod is an Australian native who lost a job due to his accusation. Paul Nungesser is a German native who was made Public Enemy #1even though he was found not responsible (his accuser is half Asian). Brandon Winston is a black man who was accused by a white girl and a black girl. There are many more examples as well.
Suk calls for an “examination of the racial impact of Title IX bureaucracy,” which is not currently included in the climate surveys required of schools each year. Right now schools don’t have to disclose the racial — or even gender — breakdown of accusations.