The SaVE Act is trying to save students from sexual assault. Who will save students from Congress?
Congress has decided that it's time to regulate the college hookup (they must be out of things to do). The Campus Sexual Violence Elimination (SaVE) Act requires schools to intrude into the most intimate aspects of students' lives. In the name of preventing sexual violence, Congress, in their infinite wisdom, has decided to put their noses into everyone's business.
While preventing campus sexual violence is a laudable and important goal, the SaVE Act takes things too far. For one, it undermines basic due process: someone who is accused of sexual violence would be subject to a disciplinary hearing in which they wouldn't have the right to a lawyer, and could be punished under a low standard of proof. If a college administrator thinks that the alleged perpetrator is 50.01% likely to be guilty, that's good enough under the SaVE Act. The result of this would be a new form of sexual McCarthyism where one false accusation could destroy lives. Are College Students Failing At Love?
And the sad reality is this: false accusations of campus sexual violence do happen. The Duke lacrosse team's very public 2006 court case involved a false accusation of rape, a school administration all too willing to throw its own students under the bus, and a prosecutor who was more interested in getting a conviction than doing justice. Even when it was clear that the students guilt only extended to incredibly poor judgment, the damage had already been done. And that's just one of the few cases we know about—there are undoubtedly others who have seen their reputations ruined in a similar fashion.
But that's not the only troubling part of the SaVE Act. The Act requires colleges and universities to follow federal guidelines as to what constitutes a "healthy relationship." Yes, Congress thinks it has the ability to define what constitutes a healthy relationship. One can only imagine how Congress would define a "healthy relationship." Sleeping with a college-age intern? (And an unhealthy relationship would be what happens if your wife catches you sleeping with a college-age intern.) CONTEST CLOSED! Describe Amazing Sex & Win A Trip To NYC + $1000!
Not only that, but the bill goes even further. The bill attempts to federalize standards for consent to sexual activity by mandating that colleges and universities create a "definition of consent in reference to sexual activity." Which means by the time the lawyers get done, getting to second base will require filling out a Form #4721-3A "Bra Removal Consent Form" in notarized triplicate, and then waiting for at least a three-day cooling-off period.
Congress has absolutely no business defining healthy relationships or trying, as the bill attempts, to change social norms. The SaVE Act, like the PATRIOT Act before it, is an attempt to solve a real and pressing problem by giving federal agencies all the power they could want. Although, thanks to the Transportation Security Administration, the federal government is already becoming experienced in furtively groping people's genital areas—so perhaps it's not that far a step to start regulating sex on college campuses. How To Survive College While Married With Children
Now, none of this is to say that sexual violence on campus isn't a real problem. It certainly is. But the cure for sexual violence on campus isn't something that can be regulated by the federal government. It's about teaching people to use common sense and treat others with respect. Congress certainly can't regulate common sense. Congress doesn't appear to live in the same ZIP code as common sense. Instead, Congress is once again poking its nose into everyone's business. The SaVE Act may be an attempt to deal with a very real and very important problem, but it does so in such a ham-fisted way that it's virtually guaranteed to make things worse.