Visit us on Facebook icon-twitter.png icon-linkedin.png icon-google.png  icon-youtube.png icon-flickr.png     About Us     Contact Us      

Ben Boychuk

is associate editor of City Journal, where he writes on education and California politics. Previously, he served as managing editor of the Heartland Institute's School Reform News and the Claremont Review of Books. He is also a former editorial writer for Investor's Business Daily and the Press-Enterprise in Riverside, California. Reach him at

Boychuk writes a weekly column for the Sacramento Bee and Scripps-Howard News Service. His work has also appeared in the Los Angeles Times, the Orange County Register, the San Francisco Chronicle, the San Diego Union-Tribune, the New York PostNational Review Online, the Korea Times and newspapers across the United States.

boychuk_hires.jpg

‘AFFIRMATIVE CONSENT’ 

Schools set sights on almighty dollar

By BEN BOYCHUK 

Manhattan Institute’s City Journal
T
he rationale for “yes means yes” is that universities are beset with sexual violence and steeped in “rape culture.” Reports repeat the same shocking statistics: Either one in four or one in five college women have been the victims of a sexual assault.

Is it true? As my City Journal colleague Heather Mac Donald has pointed out, if those numbers were accurate, “Campus rape represents a crime wave of unprecedented proportions. No crime, much less one as serious as rape, has a victimization rate remotely approaching 20 or 25 percent, even over many years.”

If the law’s premise is bogus, how about the law’s execution? As written, it offers a vague definition of “affirmative consent.”

In any event, if sexual assault is so widespread on campuses, why not refer these crimes to the criminal courts? Because most of the cases likely wouldn’t meet the standard of “reasonable doubt.”

California’s new law allows administrators to use the much lower “preponderance of evidence standard,” which puts the accused at a distinct disadvantage.

So what is the push for “yes means yes” really about? California’s liberal legislature and governor wouldn’t have been so eager to tackle the supposed campus rape epidemic if the federal government wasn’t demanding action and threatening to withhold precious education funding if states don’t show results.

The U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights this year launched investigations into 85 colleges and universities nationwide, looking into claims that the schools haven’t taken sexual violence complaints seriously enough.

In that light, the new law’s purpose is clear: Universities had better start punishing more alleged offenders, or there will be consequences for the universities.

And if administrators need a lower standard of proof to do get the job done, now they have one. 

Reach Ben Boychuk at bboychuk@city-journal.org. This op-ed was distributed by Tribune News Service.