Empty college auditorium.

Could discriminatory campus investigations mean fewer male college graduates? Photo: Seth Sawyers

At first glance, college can seem like an idealistic society containing its own set of rules applicable only to the students who make up the majority.  Often these students are experiencing freedoms they have never experienced before – including parental supervision.  What could possibly go wrong?

Actually, there is significant research that shows college students are at a higher risk of risky behaviors than other age groups. In a study by Susquehanna University, researchers found that 32-37% of college students engage in drinking, sexual behavior, or intercourse during their first semester of college. Because of this, students are often involved in situations than they are unprepared for or may put them at risk. This can lead to involvement of the University, which is may sometimes resort to biased disciplinary action unless a third party investigation is conducted.

In a recent Drew University lawsuit, a male student claimed to be unfairly accused of sexual assault.  He indicated there was an “unfair bias” against men in university sexual assault cases.  Even with national Title 9 regulations in place, he accused the school of not following national or university protocol in the investigation of allegations against him.

Drew University responded to the suit by claiming privacy laws meant that investigative procedures were kept confidential. The official reply stated, “It is the University’s practice to refrain from public comment concerning student conduct matters.”

Unfortunately, this kind of biased response to rape allegations is not an isolated event. Several high profile cases from the University of Colorado – Boulder, Duke University, and the University of North Dakota have led to the creation of pro-due process organizations such as Families Advocating Campus Equality (FACE).

FACE founder Sherry Warner Seefeld explained to the Washington Times that universities often deal with rape allegations by automatically suspending or expelling male students, even if the facts are ambiguous and a thorough investigation isn’t completed. She said, “Universities [must] show that they are in fact being responsive to accusations of sexual assault, and so they have to have numbers.”

In the case of the Drew University allegation, the male accused of rape might have had his school career ruined were it not for the intervention of a third party investigation firm. At Drew, the male student was banned from most campus buildings, despite the fact that he insisted his accuser had lied to university officials and her friend (present at the incident) was never questioned. Upon being interviewed by a private investigator, the accuser’s friend admitted that the male student was innocent and that the sex was consensual. After the release of the private investigator’s report, the university cleared the male student of wrong-doing and allowed him back to classes.

Because of the additional evidence revealed by the 3rd party private investigator, this young man was spared irreparable damage that could have altered the course of his life. Utilizing a private investigator can be the appropriate next step when dealing with the less experienced or biased campus-based behavior investigations.