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Some of you may remember my post last week about the disturbing comments Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.) made in an exchange with FIRE’s Joe Cohn during a congressional hearing on “Preventing and Responding to Sexual Assault on College Campuses.” When discussing due process rights for the accused, Polis made the shocking suggestion that college students accused of sexual assault should be expelled even if they are innocent:
“If there are 10 people who have been accused, and under a reasonable likelihood standard maybe one or two did it, it seems better to get rid of all 10 people.”
After receiving considerable media backlash, on Tuesday, Polis wrote a piece in Boulder’s Daily Camera explaining that he “misspoke” at the hearing and apologizing to his constituents for his apparent contempt for the due process rights of the accused.
While we appreciated his supposed “apology,” Polis’ Daily Camera piece illustrates that he still holds some seriously misguided opinions about how sexual assault allegations should be handled on college campuses. To set the record straight, FIRE has written a response to Polis’ statement explaining why these allegations should be dealt with by law enforcement. As FIRE’s Susan Kruth writes:
“The public agrees with our common-sense view. A recent nationwide surveyshowed that 91 percent of likely voters believed that local law enforcement, not college administrators, ‘should be primarily in charge of investigating alleged sexual assaults on college campuses.’ This shouldn’t be surprising, given how poorly the public thinks colleges handle sexual assault cases. For two years running, a survey conducted by Huffington Post / YouGov has found that Americans have vanishingly little trust in colleges’ ability to fairly adjudicate sexual assault claims. In 2014, only 12 percent of respondents agreed that colleges do a ‘good job’ of addressing sexual misconduct; in 2015, that number inched up to 14 percent.”
Check out FIRE’s full response to Polis on our website and let me know what you think! You can also watch Polis’s now-infamous statements in the video below or over at the Subcommittee’s YouTube channel, which has the full hearing.