Harassment, violence, and due process on college campuses

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By Dylan R.N. Crabb

 

There is currently a national discourse in America regarding violence on college campuses, particularly violence of a sexual nature against female individuals.  In recent years, various college/university administrations have enacted stricter policies on how violent and sexual crimes are investigated, thanks largely to wide-scale activists movement that have formed in defense of victims of sexual harassment.

Sexual crimes are among the worst type of crime one can commit because it deprives one of their birth right to bodily autonomy in a way that will likely haunt the victim for much of their life afterward.  Any report of a sexual crime must be taken seriously and investigated thoroughly (as with any crime).  However; institutions must not forget to not deprive any individual of their right to due process during a fair investigation.  Even while facing a heinous crime, perhaps especially while we face heinous crimes.  The moment institutions begin to presume guilt before sufficient evidence from an investigation is collected is the moment we cross the line between a search for justice and a quest for revenge.  Investigators need to remember to be impartial while looking to verify and corroborate stories of violence, and victims need to remember to refrain from jumping to conclusions out of raw emotion.  An investigation without a semblance of objectivity is not an investigation at all, but a witch hunt; and decisions based on emotions are not decisions at all, but spontaneous/instinctive reactions.  Logic and reason must dominate investigations and there is responsibility on all parties (the accused, the victim, institution officials, law enforcement, law practitioners, and the public).  Innocence until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law with fair representation of both parties (the accused and the victim).

We must also remember that these crimes do not exist in a vacuum, they are the product of development.  A child whom is neglected either accidently or purposely growing up with a deficit of empathy for their fellow human beings; a child whom only knows negativity, hate, and violence growing up with a lack of understanding for others, choosing to express themselves through violence; these are the unfortunate households that breed selfish and hateful individuals that only know pain.  So, we must not be so quick to punish criminals, but rather seek to teach them how to treat others with respect and dignity.  We must not be so quick to deal out justice, but rather seek to understand violent actions.  We must hate the sin, while loving the sinner.

A more peaceful world of love and understanding is possible, but it will require a collective effort to achieve – a global, human effort.

“Darkness cannot shine out darkness, only light can.” – Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

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