Colorado Rep. Jared Polis supported draconian measures to deal with campus sexual assault during a House hearing on Thursday, saying that he backs a “reasonable likelihood” standard in which a vast majority of students accused of sexual assault would be kicked out of school even if they were innocent.
“If I was running [a private university], I might say, ‘Well, you know even if there’s a 20 to 30 percent chance that it happened, I would want to remove this individual,'” Polis, a Democrat, said during a line of questioning with Joseph Cohn, the policy director of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, during a hearing for the House Committee on Education and the Workforce.
Cohn responded by saying that Polis’ proposal would not apply to public institutions, which have stricter due process compliance requirements. Universities are generally allowed to punish students accused of sexual assault if a preponderance of evidence — or a greater than 50 percent certainty — exists suggesting they are guilty.
“It seems like we ought to provide more of a legal framework then that allows a reasonable likelihood standard or a preponderance of evidence standard,” Polis said.
“I mean, if there’s 10 people who have been accused, and under a reasonable likelihood standard maybe one or two did it, it seems better to get rid of all 10 people.”
The exchange grew slightly heated when Polis laughed off the suggestion that the rights of students kicked off campus were being infringed.
“We’re not talking depriving them of life and liberty, we’re talking about their transfer to another university, for crying out loud,” Polis said, laughing, as audience members applauded his remarks.
“Let’s be clear about this, that is not what we’re talking about,” Cohn shot back, as Polis turned his line of questioning to another witness.