Saturday, August 8, 2015

The Star Chamber Jurist Resigns

I've seen this Inside Higher Ed piece by Lee Burdette Williams a couple places on Twitter (via @Instapundit, for one), and people seem to be mostly focusing on Williams' turn away from Title IX and its perversion into a sort of all-purpose stockade with which to shame and expel young men from college. Her concluding graf contains the words
When I realized I didn’t want to be Dean of Sexual Assault, I decided to step away from a profession and identity I had treasured. When it became clear to me that being Dean of All Students was no longer possible without the constant threat of litigation, media coverage and Internet trolls, I thought it best to be dean of none.
Good for her, I guess; but a few paragraphs above, she writes
...[O]ur work is the subject of bloggers and activists who are so driven by agendas that they cannot consider an alternative viewpoint. Our efforts to serve our campuses are being pushed aside by the cottage industry of “consultants” and lawyers who prey on the fear of presidents and boards, worried that their institution will be the next one featured in The New York Times.

Did we need to be challenged about sexual assault response? Yes, and we were, and we worked hard to improve.
There's several important points here that need emphasis.
  1. It is not possible to use the bludgeon of the state to equitably resolve dating disputes. There used to be a principle in law, decreasingly adhered to nowadays, called de minimis non curat lex, i.e. the law does not concern itself with trifles. Yet feminist advocates consistently attempt to do so through inflation of all such matters into rape, particularly retroactively. (Emma Sulkowicz is a prime example, filing her report with the university months after the incident in which she claims she was raped.)
  2. The author does not realize she has been inserted into a no-win situation. That is to say, confronted with a Hobson's choice scenario, she fails to recognize it as such and ultimately leaves the game. That's certainly a positive step, but it's also the reaction of a dull-witted bureaucrat. By defending her own role in "sexual assault response", she lays a trap for herself from which she cannot escape.
  3. She objects to even the idea of public scrutiny. Read, for example, her remarks about what she conceives her job to be:
    Our work goes on behind closed doors where the hearts of students are laid bare and need to be repaired, or in campus forums where our students get to question our decisions and we can defend them, or change them. These things happen in the context of community, and that is what provides meaning and validity. That is how change, and improvement, occur.
    In other words, she and her cohorts should be able to do whatever they think their jobs are in total secrecy, or in settings in which she is shielded from consequences! (How much ability to change policy do students actually have, the "community" of which she speaks?) In this administrator-as-mommy view, is there any accountability? What value does she actually bring to the students, male and female, she supposedly works for?
State bureaucracies encourage timorousness, empire building, and, above all, secrecy. I appreciate her leaving her post because she felt demonized by the feminist mob needing a target for their pitchforks, but the reality is that same secrecy she lauds also delivered unto us the "Dear Colleague" letter. Process matters. It's clear she doesn't understand why.

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