Attorney General Schimel’s Support for Senate Bill 656

Late last month, Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel joined law enforcement officials at a press conference to announce his support for a bill that would offer amnesty for underage drinkers who report incidents of sexual assault (whether reporting as claimants or bystanders).   The bill (Senate Bill 656) would assure that someone could report an assault without worry of being cited for drinking, a possibility that might deter a claimant or bystander from contacting the police.

He was not alone in his support – SB 656 has support from both sides of the aisle, with both Republican and Democratic co-sponsors.

Once again, as with his meeting with sexual assault survivors (despite a refusal of UW-System officials to do likewise), one sees that A.G. Schimel understands that respect for individuals requires that their claims be heard.  Whether their claims are meritorious is a matter to be determined after they’ve had a chance to offer a claim –  failure to hear them out is deciding a matter a priori, a failure that would be inimical to the principles of a society based on individual rights.

(Those who are accused deserve and must have due process – that due process requires taking and processing a claim, not rejecting or pretending that claims have not been made.)

One alternative to hearing claims and offering due process to all individuals is a crude act utilitarianism in which university officials – in the name of protecting an organization’s reputation but truly to protect their own reputations – bury claims, ignore claimants, and ruin the careers of those who report incidents.

The UW System – and UW-Whitewater officials in particular – are accused by multiple claimants of burying claims (1 and 2), contending falsely that publicly-paid bureaucrats cannot speak to claimants, and insisting self-servingly that claims can only be presented one way.

A.G. Schimel’s support for SB 656 is support for the view that being heard can and should legitimately trump the circumstances surrounding when and how one makes oneself heard.  His support further undermines the unpersuasive, risible contention that the Telfer Administration at UW-Whitewater acted on principle in these several matters.

There’s no serious choice in this:  one can embrace the reasoned view of a well-educated, experienced prosecutor who has (sadly) seen many cases of assault in his career, or one can side with the flimsy, self-protective claims of lightweight administrators and their press flacks.

3 thoughts on “Attorney General Schimel’s Support for Senate Bill 656

  1. This issue has been terribly mishandled. It’s one of many problems we have on campus. Some are across the whole UW System but some are specific to our campus. It’s hard to tell how a lot of this will end. There are some amazing students and faculty here, but for a combination of local and state reasons many people are demoralized. The mood is terrible, probably as bad as I can remember.

  2. People talk about this among themselves on campus (plus other issues you have not mentioned that have happened).
    They get that it’s not supposed to be this way.
    They just don’t think anyone in charge wants real change.

  3. They’re completely boxed in by developments across the state.If they couldn’t fix this with P.R. before, there’s no way they can now. Really weird that the System speaks through Alex Hummel, who came out of Oshkosh (a younger version of Sara Kuhl) with no crisis management skills. The VP he works for (Jim Villa) is a political guy that Ray Cross (had to) put in the job.

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