Over the last few years, the topic of sexual assault on college campuses has become a hot button topic. In many states across the nation, victims are blaming colleges and universities for failing to educate students about sexual assault and not enforcing harsher punishments on those accused of sexual misconduct. But when accused students weigh in on the issue, we see that there is more to the problem.
For those who are accused, the problem lies in how these cases are handled. Many say that even though they are accused of committing a crime, they are not afforded the same rights as they would in a criminal court setting. Moreover, their judges and juries are oftentimes students and faculty who generally are poorly trained and ill-equipped to handle the gravity of the case at hand.
As was pointed out by one accused student in a recent CNN article, many of the things we take for granted in a trial setting do not happen when colleges are left to adjudicate claims of sexual assault. From challenging witness testimony to having an attorney, many schools fall short of protecting a student's civil rights. In some cases, this leads to lawsuits which sometimes end in judges overturning decisions made by schools.
For parents of college-age students here in Tennessee, it's important to know that adjudication on college campuses for sexual assault is not handled the same way as in the criminal court system. Rights may be violated and lives could be ruined. An accused student could lose a scholarship and be kicked out of school without truly being able to prove their innocence.
This is not the outcome most parents would want for their child, which is why parents should also remember their child's right to an attorney and a fair trial if they are accused of committing a crime.