Liberal college students are more likely than their conservative counterparts to support presumption of innocence for fellow students accused of underage drinking, but less likely during cases of sexual misconduct, according to a recent survey from FIRE (Foundation for Individual Rights in Education).
Less than 70 percent of students identifying as “very liberal” believe university administrators should view a student accused of sexual misconduct as innocent until proven guilty, compared to about 90 percent of self-identified “conservative” students who believe the university should presume innocence.
But for cases of underage drinking, over 95 percent of very liberal students support presumption of innocence for the accused, compared to 79 percent of conservative students.
FIRE’s survey, announced Wednesday, “found that the overwhelming majority of America’s top universities fail to provide students accused of serious misconduct with even the most basic elements of fair procedure.”
In general, 85 percent of students support the presumption of innocence for accused classmates, but less than 30 percent of prestigious universities in the U.S. guarantee that protection, according to FIRE’s press release citing a 2017 due process report.
FIRE’s vice president of policy research, Samantha Harris, said that “campus proceedings can have permanent, life-altering consequences.”
“It’s time for colleges and universities to start listening to their students and providing safeguards that reflect the seriousness of these processes,” she stated in a press release. (RELATED: Court Rules Student Denied Due Process Over Sex Assault Case)
The survey also states that “84 percent of students think that the primary purpose of a campus disciplinary hearing is to provide justice and protection to students on campus” which contrasts with “the argument made by many school administrators, who assert that campus disciplinary hearings serve primarily as an educational opportunity for those involved.”
FIRE contracted with YouGov, an international research firm, and the study was sponsored by the John Templeton Foundation.
41 percent of the 2,225 surveyed students identified as politically independent, 32 percent as Democrat, and 20 percent as Republican. Of the students surveyed, 55 percent were female.