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Jewish World Review Dec. 8, 2000/ 12 Kislev, 5761

Suzanne Fields

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Consumer Reports

Return of the 'second
sex' on campus -- NOW THAT we're all experts in constitutional law, having learned from the lyrics of the Supremes in black robes, we should apply our attention to a group of Americans who are being denied their due process rights under the Constitution.

The villains are not sly politicians manipulating the votes of citizens, but educated academicians at one of our finest universities, bent on depriving college students of their legal rights. The law is untidy, imperfect and even ambiguous, as we all now know, but in a democracy we agree to abide by the rule of law. Columbia University, in its intellectual wisdom, knows better. Students who are accused of sexual misconduct must be "re-educated'' and "rehabilitated'' outside the law.

Sexual misconduct is described at Columbia as unwanted physical conduct and "no'' can be conveyed by "the victim's mental or physical incapacity or impairment of which the perpetrator was aware or should have been aware.'' (italics mine.) Imagine what could happen by misinterpreting a drunken yes, yes, yes.

If a student is accused of such sexual misconduct, he's on his own. He can't confront his accusers or cross-examine witnesses. He is deprived of legal counsel. Nobody reads him his Miranda rights. On an appeal, which only a dean can call, he's still deprived of a lawyer. The women who created this policy with the support of George Rupp, president of the university, dismiss due process and other fundamental legal rights, as unnecessary "red tape.'' They actually encourage their army of militants to wear red tapes on their backpacks as a symbol of solidarity. (Cute?)

Critics, and there are growing numbers of them across the ideological spectrum, compare Columbia's legal maze with the judicial systems of Iraq, Iran, Cuba and North Korea. Instead of reading Kafka and Orwell as literature, Columbia students are living it. Hyperbole? A little. But only a little.

The university administrators defend their new policy as having two laudable purposes of education and rehabilitation. "Discipline at the university is regarded as something that is educational as opposed to punitive,'' Patricia Catapano, an associate general counsel at Columbia and one of the authors of the new policy, told the Boston Globe. "Rarely does a university consider that a student cannot be rehabilitated.'' Mao Zedong would understand.

Outrage has united such disparate voices as John Silver, the chancellor of Boston University; Vivian Berger, a Columbia law professor and a member of the American Civil Liberties Union National Board; Edward Feulner, president of the Heritage Foundation; and artist and sex symbol Holly Hughes. They've railed against it in the Wall Street Journal, The New Republic and the Village Voice. Feminists have organized the Feminists for Free Expression (FEE), whose letterhead includes attorney general Janet Reno, feminist icon Betty Friedan, novelist Erica Jong and screenwriter Nora Ephron.

In a stinging letter, FEE accuses the university of denying due process and fundamental fairness. They argue that "it is no service to women to hold that offenses against them require a kangaroo court.''

This, alas, is the kind of poison that could spread to other campuses. Academics have a weakness for anything that vaguely tastes good. Columbia has exploited court decisions which give wide latitude to campus "judiciaries,'' and defends its kangaroo courts as more lenient than tribunals that would treat accused students like criminals. Instead, they treat students as political prisoners at the mercy of their accusers.

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education -- the acronym appropriately is FIRE -- excoriates the Columbia judiciary panels made up of deans and students, who resemble "tribunals in the days of witchcraft trials.'' These panels claim to be "specially trained'' on sexual matters, not matters of law. Hence, the kangaroos are imbued with a "special mission'' to attack a social problem, not achieve individual justice.

Vivian Berger, who has written widely on the subject of rape, writes in the Columbia Daily Spectator that the university patronizes women "by treating them like children, who are sometimes permitted to testify outside the presence of the allegedly abusive defendant.''

Feminism, so we were told, was meant to liberate women to stand up for themselves. Columbia University wants to go back to the future to introduce women as the "second sex.''


12/04/00: Politics as entertainment today
11/30/00: Winner vs. whiner
11/27/00: Measuring against history
11/23/00: Memories of Thanksgiving past
11/17/00: In defense of the Electoral College
11/16/00: More than one way to win an election
11/13/00: Sexual politics squared
11/09/00: A Middle East legacy
11/06/00: Filling in the dots at campaign's end
11/02/00: His own man in full
10/30/00: The Oval Office, through a glass brightly
10/23/00: There'll always be an England. Maybe.
10/19/00: The celebrity candidate
10/16/00: 'Ladies night' at the second debate
10/12/00: Gore vs. Bush: Volvo vs. Maserati
10/10/00: We weep for Rami for he is dead
10/05/00: Looking at Lieberman from inside the 'ghetto'
10/02/00: Campaigns, candidates, and kissy-face
09/28/00: Laughing and crying over Joe Lieberman
09/21/00: Targeting teenagers for money
09/21/00: Sexual politics in New York
09/18/00: Surviving the stereotypes and debates
09/14/00: Gloria Steinem runs cheerfully into captivity
09/12/00: Sex in the eye of the partisan
09/07/00: 'Sex and death' on the college campus
09/05/00: Joe Lieberman as a 'Menorah Man'
08/31/00: Rising suns of the conventions
08/17/00: Changing icons: From Loretta Young to Hillary Clinton
08/14/00: The Creator returns to the public square
08/10/00: Bursting with pride, but caution too
08/07/00: Brains, beauty and beastly politics
08/03/00: A candidate with a superego
07/31/00: The sizzling Lynne Cheney
07/27/00: The party of the aging Playboys
07/24/00 Hillary drives the Jewish wagon into a ditch
07/20/00 Conservatives gone fishin'
07/17/00: Snoop Doggy Dogg was a founding father, wasn't he?
07/13/00: When a teenager doesn't need a prime minister
07/10/00: Abortion as cruel and unusual punishment
07/06/00: Surviving 'survivor' TV
07/03/00: Independence Day with Norman Rockwell
06/29/00: Here comes 'something old'
06/26/00: Waiting too long for the baby
06/22/00: Good teachers, curious students and oxymorons
06/19/00: Wanted: Some ants for Gore's pants
06/15/00: Like father, like daughter
06/12/00: Culture wars and conservative warriors
06/08/00: Return of the housewife
06/05/00: Hillary and Al -- playing against type
05/31/00: The sexual revolution confronts the SUV
05/25/00: Waiting for the movie
05/22/00: Pistol packin' mamas
05/18/00: Journalists and the 'new time' religion
05/15/00: There's nothing like a (military) dame
05/11/00: 'The Human Stain' on campus
05/09/00: We've come a long way, Betty Friedan
05/04/00: From George Washington to Mansa Masu
05/01/00: Gore's ruthless doublespeak
04/28/00: Doing it Castro's way
04/24/00: Women's studies beget narrow minds
04/17/00: The slippery slope of anti-Semitism
04/13/00: A villain larger than life
04/10/00: When mourning becomes an economic tragedy
04/03/00: The last permissible bigotry
03/30/00: Seeking the political Oscar
03/23/00: The gaying of America
03/20/00: Pointy-eared quadrupeds on campus
03/16/00: The shocking art of the establishment
03/13/00: Sawdust on the campaign trail
03/10/00: Campaign rhetoric of manhood
03/06/00: The Amphetamine of the People
03/02/00: Elegy for Amadou
02/29/00: With only a million, what's a poor girl to do?
02/24/00: The changing politics of change
02/16/00: Tip from Hillary: 'Let 'em eat eggs'
02/10/00: No seances with Eleanor
02/07/00: Campaigning like our founding fathers
02/03/00: When neo-Nazis have short memories
01/31/00: George W. -- 'Ladies man' and 'man's man'
01/27/00: Dead white males and live white politicians
01/25/00: Smarting over presidential smarts
01/21/00: A post-modern song for `The Sopranos'
01/19/00: When personality is a long-distance plus
01/13/00: French lessons in amour --- and marriage
01/10/00: Reaching for the Big Golden Apple
01/07/00: Liddy Dole as the face of feminism
01/04/00: Hillary: From victim to victor
12/30/99: 'Dream catchers' for the millennium
12/27/99: In search of a candidate with strength and eloquence
12/21/99: The president as First Lady
12/16/99: Columbine with blurred hindsight
12/09/99: Homeless deserve discriminating attention
12/07/99: Casual censors and deadly know-nothings
12/02/99: Why mom didn't make general: A reality tale
11/30/99: Potholes on the road to the Promised Land
11/25/99: A feast for the spirit and the stomach
11/23/99: Fathers need to say 'I (can) do'
11/18/99: Adventures of a conservative pundit
11/15/99: Traveling with Jefferson on the information highway
11/11/99: Wanted: 'Foliage of forbiddinness' for the oval office
11/09/99: Eggs, art and rotten commerce
11/05/99: Al Gore, 'Alpha Male'. Bow wow.
11/01/99: Gay love
10/28/99: Lose one Dole, lose two
10/26/99: Rebels with a violent cause
10/21/99: Reforming parents, reforming schools
10/19/99: The male mystique -- he shops
10/13/99:The campaign of the Teletubbies
10/08/99: Money is in the eye of the art dealer
10/01/99: Lincoln's 'Almost Chosen People'
09/29/99: Introducing Bill and Hillary Bickerson
09/27/99: Must we wait for the next massacre?
09/24/99: Miss America meets Miss'd America
09/21/99: Princeton's 'professor death'
09/16/99: The Cisneros lesson
09/13/99: No clemency for personal politics
09/08/99: M-M-M is for manhood
08/30/99: Blocking the schoolhouse door
08/27/99: No kick from cocaine
08/23/99: Movies don't kill people
08/19/99: A rude awakening
08/16/99: Dubyah and that 'language' thing
08/09/99: Chauvinist sows -- oink oink

©1999, Suzanne Fields. Distributed by Los Angeles Times Syndicate