As KC Johnson of points out in a new post at Minding the Campus, due process is becoming scarce on college campuses.

A Depressing Year for Campus Due Process

This article is second in a series on “the year that was” in higher education.

The 2013-4 academic year featured a steady assault on campus due process, resulting from a loose alliance between the Obama administration (especially its Office for Civil Rights) and self-appointed “activists,” their faculty supporters, and a handful of higher-ed journalists. The year concluded with some pushback from an unexpected source—the federal courts—likely previewing major controversy between the academy and civil society for coming years.

A More Aggressive Federal Policy

The year opened with debate over whether the OCR’s settlement with the University of Montana constituted a “blueprint” that all other schools would be expected to follow. Under strong editorial and political pressure, OCR backtracked, suggesting that the agency’s use of the word “blueprint” didn’t necessarily mean that OCR wanted other colleges to follow the Montana policy.

In the event, any doubt about OCR’s intentions vanished after an October settlement between OCR and SUNY. In addition to the normal OCR terms (telling a school to brand students rapists on a preponderance-of-evidence threshold, allowing accusers to appeal not-guilty findings), the SUNY settlement included two elements that were highly unfriendly to due process.

First, the agreement clarified that in the rare instances when accusers simultaneously report allegations both to police and to their college, college officials cannot defer to the results of the police inquiry, and instead must conduct their own investigation. The SUNY provision all but guarantees that in the future, we’ll see more examples like that of Caleb Warner, the North Dakota student deemed a rapist by his own school even as local police charged his accuser with filing a false police report. The OCR document didn’t explain why colleges should not accept the result of a police inquiry that concludes a student accuser wasn’t telling the truth.