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Deans gone wild

In a statement to The Chronicle last week, an associate dean for judicial affairs allegedly claimed that under the “relaxed” university rules for sexual assault prosecution, the Undergraduate Judicial Board has to be “roughly” 75-percent sure that a non-consensual sex act occurred in order to punish a student. Mere days ago it seemed inconceivable that any dean could out-crazy the one who wrote an essay about how God helped tsunami victims drown, but now someone has pulled it off.

Let’s think about this for a second. If the Judicial Board decides to discipline four students for sexual misconduct and is 75 percent sure about their guilt in each case, then with that kind of confidence there will be an erroneous conviction in roughly one of the cases.

It seems that destroying one innocent person’s reputation—and future employability—in order to convict three guilty persons is an acceptable state of affairs here at Duke University.

Luckily, with class registration upon us, you can vote with your feet and run from away from these maniacs. Imagine spending part of next semester luxuriating at a first-rate research institution packed with real Southern Culture (not the ersatz Duke variety—the cultural love-child of New Jersey and Maryland). Imagine taking classes with chivalrous Southern Gentlemen and Carolina Girls with voices as sweet as Georgia tea and bosoms tenderer than Magnolia Grill pork chops. Imagine having a national basketball championship. Imagine slathering molasses on those pork chops.

Thanks to an underwhelmingly publicized agreement between UNC-Chapel Hill and Duke, you can. Few know it, but the Inter-Institutional program between us allows you to take one class a semester at UNC and transfer the grade directly into your Duke GPA, provided that the course is not offered simultaneously at Duke. If you really want to, however, it is possible to take anything you want whenever you want by staggering the course sequence by a semester, e.g. taking the first part of a course in the spring and the second part in the fall. (UNC is so big that it offers both parts in both semesters while Duke oftentimes does not.)

And there are many reasons to go to UNC for a class. It’s a good way to gain access to many courses that Duke does not offer—particularly in the areas of applied classes and languages, to name but a few. Making new friends and getting a new perspective on the college experience might not be a bad thing, either.

These days, getting to Chapel Hill has never been easier: a bus leaves every 30 minutes and drops you off on campus about twenty minutes later. This translates into forty minutes of studying per class day on the bus. How often otherwise is it so easy to incorporate work into the day?

Although it is something of a pain not to be able to get a break on tuition for taking a class at UNC, the school—in a number of areas—is better than our own. (There certainly are no Business Administration or Celtic departments in Trinity). From the kinds of courses taught to the diversity of disciplines available, heading over to our neighbor for a class could be a great deal of fun, particularly if you can get a group of people together and all do it.

Nevertheless, you will have to take the balance of your semester courses here, and that means you will rub elbows with administrators who are trying to stop sexual assault by crushing civil rights under their manicured thumbs.

This is illegal and immoral. Winning the battle against sexual assault depends on focusing efforts on controlling substance abuse and-somehow-on curbing impulses evolved during the Pleistocene. Inventing a policy where the definition of “clear and convincing” evidence means a 75-percent confidence of guilt is not good enough. There is a reason why the American legal system demands “beyond a reasonable doubt” and unanimous jury votes in order to find someone guilty; it enshrines the principle (though often fails to uphold it in practice) that no one should be knowingly convicted for crimes they did not commit. Duke, apparently, is satisfied with getting it right three quarters of the time—a solid “F” in my book.

Matt Gillum is a Trinity senior. His column appears Wednesdays.

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