We have had a vigorous discussion on the blog about Betsy DeVos’s decision to reorient the US Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights towards protecting the rights of those accused of rape rather than those who alleged that they were victims of rape.

Candace Jackson, DeVos’s controversial choice to lead OCR, made these startling remarks to the New York Times, which caused such an uproar that she subsequently apologized:

“Investigative processes have not been “fairly balanced between the accusing victim and the accused student,” Ms. Jackson argued, and students have been branded rapists “when the facts just don’t back that up.” In most investigations, she said, there’s “not even an accusation that these accused students overrode the will of a young woman.”

“Rather, the accusations — 90 percent of them — fall into the category of ‘we were both drunk,’ ‘we broke up, and six months later I found myself under a Title IX investigation because she just decided that our last sleeping together was not quite right,’” Ms. Jackson said.”

I urge DeVos and Jackso to read John Hechinger’s riveting new book, “True Gentlemen: The Broken Pledge of America’s Fraternities.”
The book won’t be released until September. I read it in galleys and provided a blurb.

It provides an insider’s view of fraternity life on campus today. Hechinger is a writer for Bloomberg who often covers education. What you will encounter in the book is a culture of binge drinking, hazing, misogyny, sexism, and rampant disregard for the rights of anyone. I have never cared about fraternity life, never attended a college where fraternities or sororities mattered. Now I know what I was missing, and I’m glad I did. The lives of pledges are treated with reckless disregard; the lives and reputations of women matter not at all. In this peculiar world, getting dead drunk is ritual behavior.

The two women now not-enforcing civil rights protections for victims of sexual violence on campus should read this book for context. You should too.