It is not often that the veil of university Title IX procedures is lifted, but when it is, as described in Zoe Katz’s heartfelt letter regarding her Orwellian experience at the University of Southern California, the public captures a glimpse of the dystopian inner workings of a system designed to “help” victims of sexual assault.
Unbeknownst to most outside academia, the Obama administration radically changed how sexual assault investigations and adjudications are handled by colleges and universities. The shameful story of how Zoe Katz and Matt Boermeester were treated by USC is but one example of the troubling repercussions produced by the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights’ current guidance. In this case, a third-party accusation was given greater weight than the word of Katz, the supposed victim. As she put it, when she insisted that Boermeester was innocent, she was “stereotyped and was told I must be a ‘battered’ woman, and that made me feel demeaned and absurdly profiled.”
In the past, we often heard about stories where a (usually female) student’s report of a sexual assault was swept under the rug by a callous university trying to ease tensions and protect its reputation. Change certainly was needed. Although Obama-era Title IX mandates attempted to correct this wrong, they have instead swung the pendulum too far in the opposite direction, creating a new class of student victims wrongfully found responsible for sexual assaults they did not commit.