Star Chamber Provision on Campus Dropped

In April, the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights outlined a policy shift that represented perhaps the gravest threat to civil liberties on campus in a generation. Worse, Sen. Patrick Leahy inserted a provision in a draft of the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2011 that would have made the dubious new policy part of federal law. The provision required college students accused of sexual assault to be tried under a weak “preponderance of evidence” standard that would have made it almost impossible for many falsely accused students to clear their names.

The good news is that “because of the feedback,” Sen. Leahy said, he is dropping the provision from the Senate bill. We congratulate FIRE for leading this fight, as well as Hans Bader and several people writing for this site, including KC Johnson and Harvey Silverglate and Kyle Smeallie.

Next we would call for our readers to write in protest to the colleges that quickly and foolishly embraced the toxic new policy on a voluntary basis, including Yale, The University of Virginia, Washington University of St. Louis and Brandeis. All these institutions should correct their mistake quickly.


  • John Leo

    John Leo is the editor of Minding the Campus, dedicated to chronicling imbalances within higher education and restoring intellectual pluralism to our American universities. His popular column, "On Society," ran in U.S.News & World Report for 17 years.

One thought on “Star Chamber Provision on Campus Dropped”

  1. The fact that Sen. Leahy has removed “preponderance of the evidence” from his Senate bill does not mean that this policy has been reversed by the Obama Education Department. It is still in effect as long as they are in office.
    Also, it is necessary to rescind the “Antioch Rules” that the Education Department has imposed on all our colleges.

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