There are a lot of intricate factors at play with sexual misconduct cases. An issue that is particularly sticky for universities is the differences in the degree of proof required, including the appropriate due process. For breaches of university policy, only preponderance of evidence is required, meaning that the school only has to be 51 percent sure the transgression occurred in order to administer disciplinary action. If the violation is of a sexual nature and the student is charged, then a higher standard of proof is required.
Depending on the state and the specific charge, either clear and convincing evidence (about 75 percent sure) or beyond a reasonable doubt (99 percent sure) is required to get a conviction, with rape requiring beyond a reasonable doubt. The reason so many colleges, including KU, dance around sexual violations is this difference in proving guilt. If a college finds a student guilty and dismisses the student, but the student is later acquitted in court, the university could be financially liable to compensate the student for having dismissed them and it may be required to reinstate them.
Many colleges, including Universities of Houston, Maine, Florida and Duke, among others, have all been sued in this scenario. Some cases were successful, resulting in the school paying the student tens of thousands of dollars due to improperly dismissing students. If KU, or other schools, were to take a more aggressive stance on sexual crimes, they would be opening themselves up to a large liability risk financially.
Preston Conner is a sophomore from Independence, MO studying business administration.