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Colleges Turning To Judges In Campus Sexual Assault Cases

Campus hearings, even when they’re regarding an activity as serious as sexual assault, are not courtrooms. It’s a distinction that the U.S. Department of Education has embraced, requiring colleges to conduct their own investigations into claims of sexual assault, and to adjudicate those cases under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972.

Colleges use “preponderance of evidence” instead of “beyond reasonable doubt” as the standard of proof. If a student is found in violation of campus rules, he or she is “responsible” for the misconduct, not “guilty” of a crime. The potential punishments are writing assignments, suspension or expulsion — not prison.