The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, a group backed financially by the Koch brothers that “fights for student and faculty rights” — is representing students who say they have been falsely accused of sex crimes or “denied fair treatment under state or college judicial processes” in relation to sex crimes on campus, according to The Record.
The group says the oft-cited figure that one in five one in five women is sexually assaulted while in college has been cited by the Obama administration and in frequent news reports is inflated — however, they have offered no alternative research.
“It’s not a question of whether the university needs to address this,” said Samantha Harris, director of policy research at the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education. “It is allowing a moral panic to prevail and preventing clear heads from crafting a solution that is fair to everyone involved.”
The one-in-five number comes from a 2007 survey by the National Institute of Justice, a division of the Justice Department. Other large studies have found similar rates of rape and assault among women and advocates for women say that even if the statistic is inflated, the problem is real and deserves to be taken seriously. Other studies of sexual assault have led to findings that between one-fifth and one-quarter of women were raped during college, and those studies have also faced scrutiny and criticism over their methods and findings.
The Foundation for Individual Rights will be taking up lawsuits on behalf of men who say they have been falsely accused of sexual assault or rape on campus. “We get reports from accused students,” Harris said. “It seems like the pressure to address this effectively leads to abandonment of due process that universities should be offering.”
If taken to court, the lawsuits will mark a new direction for the Koch-funded organization, which typically fights — in court — for “free speech” for the student body and has filed (and won) dozens of lawsuits targeting so-called “free speech zones” on campus.