One of the bits of my biography that is so long removed from what I do now that it rarely comes up is that of Chief Justice of Mercer University. I was the campus chief justice for two years — longer than anybody prior to me. Concurrently, I was also the student government’s parliamentarian. I was super administrative nerd and bureaucrat. By virtue of my tenure, the system was largely of my design.
In my capacity, and as a lower level presiding judge (we were formalists) before that presiding over the “court” that handled all infractions inside dormitories, I saw a lot.
At the time, we had a very good system of student led due process. We kept faculty out of the system because they always wanted to politicize and politically correct things. We had a great working relationship with the local police due in large part to the campus police chief who to this day is held in very high esteem by everyone. The university administration trusted us to get it right and gave the students wide latitude to enforce their own student created code of conduct.
During my four year tenure in the student judicial system, I saw and heard a lot. On more than one occasion I had to suspend people I considered friends. And though thankfully many of the horror stories that exist on other campuses did not happen on mine, some did.
The most difficult part was getting young women to trust a system, particularly a student run system, on a small campus. I can only imagine that this is amplified on a large campus that has greater bureaucracy and is less a place where everyone knows your name.
It takes great courage to face an accuser and truly great courage to do so against a rapist. The judicial system is designed, out of necessity, for the accused to be presumed innocent. The state must prove guilt. The accused must not prove their innocence.
Because of a perversion of so much on many college campuses infested with political correctness and the demands of social justice over real justice, it is more and more likely that the accused will be presumed guilty before being found guilty. None of that makes it easy for someone to come forward with an accusation that she has been personally violated.
The great magnitude of the Rolling Stone article and why it was embraced by so many was, in one place, because it comforted the biases and suspicions of many. But also because it might have been used as a way to show others they could come forward, speak, and see their burden shared and justice found.
That is less likely now.
And Rolling Stone now blaming the victim makes it even worse.
This will be a set back on campuses for victims. I hope Rolling Stone’s Editor can be reminded of that.