Caleb Warner's Story Continues to Inspire

Caleb Warner may not be returning back to school this year, but he has been inspiring people to speak out against the guidelines for prosecuting sexual assault on college campuses.
On July 15th I published an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal about Caleb, a University of North Dakota student accused of sexual assault. Caleb was kicked out of school and the local police swore out an arrest warrant; not for him, but for his accuser. Utilizing the same evidence that led to his expulsion from school, the police determined that Caleb was not guilty, and that his accuser had filed a false police report. Even though police felt there was clearly insufficient evidence to bring charges (much less convict), the school was perfectly comfortable bringing him in front of a disciplinary board and expelling him. They were so comfortable, in fact, that even after Caleb's accuser left town following the warrant for her arrest, the school still did not agree to rehear his case.

But after a summer of bad press, along with intensive lobbying by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (
FIRE), the University of North Dakota vacated all of Caleb's charges, including his expulsion. While he has said he is unlikely to return to the University of North Dakota, he now has a clean record, and can move on with his life.

Caleb's story has also inspired a number of other people who are concerned about due process on campus.

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What Yale's President Should Have Said about the Frat Boys

No one can deny that Yale University is in a difficult position. In late March, the Department of Education began investigating the New Haven campus for allegedly maintaining a sexually hostile environment. Last month, Yale enacted changes to lower the standard of proof in sexual assault cases, and last week, College Dean Mary Miller announced that a fraternity would be banned for five years, a result of an incident last fall in which pledges shouted sexually-graphic chants. Yale, under pressure from Washington, is by all appearances capitulating. It didn’t have to. On Minding the Campus, my research assistant Kyle Smeallie and I explain how Yale President Richard Levin could have stood tall, on behalf of educators and liberal arts institutions (and their students) everywhere, in the face of Washington’s unwelcome—and ultimately destructive—intrusion.

"What Yale's President Should Have Said about the Frat Boys," Minding the Campus (May 23, 2011)

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Liability Reigns Supreme at the Corporate University

Campus administrators, alas, have become true believers in the mantra of "risk management." But in guarding against every potential exposure to threats of litigation, no matter how specious, university lawyers and administrators squeeze important elements out of academic life and learning, as well as moral and educational principles, from the collegiate experience. Enter the Department of Education's "Dear Colleague" letter sent nationwide earlier this month, which mandates changes in how universities should investigate instances of sexual harassment--including those that involve student speech.

Now, at the intersection of protected speech and so-called verbal "harassment," administrators have all the more incentive to favor the latter at the expense of the former, I write on Rather than fight these incursions into the academic enterprise, we can count on academic leaders and administrators, and their lawyers, to fold. The days of principled stands by academic leaders appear to have ended because of those leaders' modern-day obsession with making every student's college experience pleasant.

"Liability Reigns Supreme at the Corporate University," (April 22, 2011)

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