When the press release about Mia Ackerman’s legislative commission “to study the issue of sexual assault on college campuses” arrived in my inbox, I put it aside with a mental note to keep an eye on whether the committee spent any time at all actually challenging the assumption that there’s some sort of sexual assault crisis on U.S. campuses. My expectation is that the question won’t be asked, and that this is an issue only because the preacher-dad from Footloose has re-imagined himself as a progressive and because divisive identity politics will help Democrats during the upcoming election year.
But the last paragraph of a quick Providence Journal write-up of the commission’s first meeting by Lynn Arditi truly merits some consideration:
Ackerman introduced legislation to form the study commission after victims advocates opposed a bill she introduced last January to require colleges report sexual assault to law enforcement. Day One, a nonprofit that advocates for victims of sexual violence, opposed the mandatory reporting bill saying it could discourage victims from coming forward. Ackerman withdrew the mandatory reporting bill.
The advocacy group doesn’t want colleges and universities to report allegations of crimes, because the victims might not make the allegations if they expect that to happen. Here’s the question: What are the colleges and universities supposed to do differently than the legal system that alleged victims will find less threatening? Worry more about their feelings than the facts? Remove the alleged perpetrator without due process? National news on the issue suggests that’s exactly the intention.
The whole discussion has something of a surreal quality. One would think, for instance, that people obsessed with equity and identity groups would notice how much female undergrads already outnumber male undergrads. If Collegedata.com is accurate, URI has a male:female ratio of 46:54. At RIC, it’s 33:67. The private institutions vary as well, although Brown is pretty close to even and Bryant has more men.
This commission’s report is do by May, and there might be some legislation to come out of it. Then the advocacy may continue. All of this goes to suggest that if you’re in the process of helping your son figure out a path to college, just now, you might want to leave open some options that are outside of the reach of Rhode Island’s legislature — somewhere that left-wing activists and special interests don’t have elected officials on quite so short of a leash.