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Students Debate Issues Surrounding Title IX and DACA

By Sydney Charles

UC Irvine students discussed Title IX and the Deferred Action of Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program in a debate on Friday, Nov. 17.

Facilitator and Chair of the Campus Climate Commission Daniel Wehrenfennig started off by introducing the student debate team.

“These are students who want to show and portray to us how a debate is done, the positions they take do not have to be their own positions; that’s part of being in part of the Debate Club, that you’re really good at taking on, researching and learning about a position and then portraying it [in] the best way possible.”

The first debate was centered around Title IX, a federal law that states, “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.”

Debate team president and second-year student Metta Beshay, argued that Title IX needs to offer due process to those who are accused of sexual assault on campus. He highlighted multiple critiques of various universities and the way that they handle sexual assault.

“I find the lack of competence  in the system gross,” said Beshay, before explaining the two moral objections that he has with Title IX. One, the lack of legal ramifications for the accused, and the other, the percentage of certainty and the biased within the evidence used to derive their rulings.

“If you’re accused of sexual assault, and you actually sexually assaulted someone, what does kicking you off campus do?” Beshay continued. “You still go to the same bars, still go to the same clubs…. You’ve done nothing to stop the actual behavior of the person, and they can still go threaten the same people that they did before.”

Beshay also mentioned the fact that universities can reach its ruling with 51 percent certainty.

“Universities use preponderance of evidence which is the 51% sure model, in contrast, criminal courts use 99% sure, or beyond reasonable doubt.”

He also emphasized that in 2013,  Colgate University had an African-American population of only 4.2 percent, but that the group made up more than 50 percent of the reported sexual assaults.  

“I don’t feel comfortable putting my faith in a system that not only needs 51 amount of evidence, but also disproportionately affects other students from other races,” said Beshay.

After a four minute intermission, Beshay’s arguments were countered by second-year student Berna Idriz and included reports of miscommunication regarding sexual assault within universities and the notion that our justice system has repeatedly failed at providing justice for sexual assault victims.

“Students are more than welcome to go through the criminal court system if their concern [goes through] due process,” said Idriz, “but there is ample evidence that our justice system fails people who are victims of sexual assault time after time.”

Idriz backed up her argument with claims of  inappropriate “police treatment of sexual assault victims” which included the “harassment of the victims, downgrading and miscounting the accounts of the rape victims, and repeated officer sexual misconduct and abuses of their own power.”

“Our system violates the thing it was meant to protect in the first place, the constitution. How can we expect accountability, justice, or due process from this system,” Idriz stressed.

The two debaters then gave closing arguments before Wehrenfennig explained the University’s official stance on Title IX.

“After a lot of review and critique of Title IX,” Wehrenfennig said, “the UC system has found that TItle IX is working very well, on either side, the accused and the accuser, and has a due process that [they have] found, so far, no need to change it.”

The second debate involved arguments about the DACA program.

The affirmative component of DACA started with a critique of the abrupt ending of such a successful program.

Third-year Daniel Gilchrist started off by citing Senate majority leaders, stating, “Dreamers are as American as apple pie.”

He claimed that dreamers help our economy by “paying more than they receive in local taxes.” He also cited studies, one by Dr. Pope from the University of Chicago, which stated, “DACA allowed 50,000 to 75,000 immigrants to move into formal employment, resulting in [an] increase in movement from the lowest income bracket.”

Gilchrist mentioned how this created “ripple effects” for the rest of economy including increases in payroll, excess taxes, and consumption. Additionally, he revealed a finding from the Hoover institute which stated that our GDP could stand to lose 250 billion dollars.

He concluded with emphasizing that the dreamers are a “validation of the American dream” and are a part of our culture.

Second-year Kimo Gandall countered with an  introduction that negated the following.

“First, state obligations. Westphalian realism, the notions that states of nations ought to maintain sovereignty, and the right to define citizenship is a part of that sovereignty. Specifically, governments have a moral obligation to their own citizens,” Gandall said.

According to Gandall, DACA has done damage in multiple regional areas. He pointed out the suggested impact on our UC system which has totalled in over 25 million, not including healthcare cost and physical space of undocumented students.

Gandall also stated that our community has become polarized due to DACA.

“By slowly advocating for DACA, institutions’ voices have forgotten a pursuit of truth and now pursue an abstract notion of social justice.”

Gandall also claimed that effects of DACA are shown in our academia. The effects have been “quantified” because public school systems are  trusted by less than 30 percent of the American electorate.

His final statement involved the financial impact of DACA recipients.

In his argument, Gandall included a meta analysis from the congressional budget which stated that “undocumented immigrants cost over 100 billion dollars a year” including food, free housing, healthcare, and other benefits that they receive.

The second debate ended with a discussion on American jobs, specifically in STEM, as most DACA recipients are college educated in STEM related fields.

Oscar Duran, director of the Undocumented Resource Center, spoke on maintaining intellectual  integrity, even in taking on opposing sides of an argument. He stressed that in debates, it is important to include those who are actually impacted in the conversation.