The New Rules Of College Sex: Male? Probably A Predator
The Federal government and a Pennsylvania lawyer (Brett Sokolow, founder of NCHERM, the National Center for Higher Education Risk Management) are rewriting the rules on campus hookups--using Title IX to tag young men as dangerous predators, writes Sandy Hingston in Philly Magazine:
Jack and Diane are at a party at their college. It's September of their freshman year. They're still excited about being away from home, on their own for the first time. They don't know each other, but they've noticed one another, at orientation and in the dining hall.
Because they're underage, they can't drink at this party, but before she arrived, Diane "pre-gamed," as the girls in her dorm call it--downing mixed drinks, doing gummy-worm and Jell-O shots. Jack had a few beers.
The liquor's gone to Diane's head. On the dance floor, she makes eye contact with Jack. He maneuvers his way toward her. She grabs him by the crotch, then whirls around and pushes against him, letting him grind away. Jack can't believe it--she's so pretty. She smells so good.
"I can't hear myself think in here, it's so loud!" he shouts into her ear.
She smiles at him. "What?"
"Too loud!" He takes her hand and leads her outside, into the autumn night. She looks at him expectantly. He puts his arms around her, pulling her close, and begins to kiss her. She drapes against him. He touches her breast, and when she doesn't protest, does it again. He moves his hands to her rear, cupping her buttocks. She kisses him back, frantically eager. He reaches underneath her dress.
Jack doesn't know it, but he's just created what the Department of Education calls a "hostile environment" for women on his campus--a violation of Title IX for which his college could lose all federal funding. Should Diane press sexual assault charges against him with the school, he'll be tried in a judicial hearing that fails to guarantee him the most basic American legal rights--the right to counsel, the right to confront his accuser, the right not to be convicted unless found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. He could well be expelled, and have a record that will hound him should he try to get into another school.
And here he thought it was his lucky night.
Next up, we've got the Vice President pushing bullshit rape stats -- a "one in five" figure in this case. (See debunking links here.)
But wait, you say. Didn't Diane consent when she let Jack touch her breast? No, because consent has to be active, not passive. And Jack has to get Diane's consent every time he wants to move up another base--a policy first instituted at Ohio's Antioch College in the early 1990s. Here's how an Antioch women's center advocate explained it to freshmen: "If you want to take her blouse off, you have to ask. If you want to touch her breast, you have to ask. If you want to move your hand down to her genitals, you have to ask. If you want to put your finger inside her, you have to ask." Reaction to Antioch's policy--including a Saturday Night Live skit--was wildly derisive; eventually, the college closed down. The policy, however, as detailed by NCHERM, lives on all over the country.
Besides, the NCHERM model says that even though Jack had no way of telling whether or how much Diane had been drinking, it was his responsibility to determine if she was "incapacitated"--a term of murky meaning. If she was, any fondling they did, no matter how great her zeal, was sexual assault. She doesn't even have to lodge a complaint; the college has to investigate if, say, Diane's resident adviser- sees her and Jack outside the party and suspects she's drunk. And OCR says a single incident of sexual assault can be enough to create that hostile atmosphere.
My friends at the campus free speech-defending organization FIRE of course come through for due process on campus:
But Samantha Harris, of the Philly-based nonprofit Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, or FIRE, which advocates for individual rights at colleges, says the new standard violates accused students' due process rights. "Campus judicial procedures already have questionable -validity," she says. "The preponderance standard, which essentially means 50.1 percent proof, will just compound those problems." She says the Supreme Court's precedents demonstrate that evidentiary standards should be higher, not lower, when so much is at stake, as FIRE argued in a lengthy letter to Russlynn Ali. "We're not sending these students to prison," Harris says, "but the terminology is the same. They're found guilty of serious criminal offenses." Perpetrators are subject to expulsion, which affects their employment and social prospects. Harris blames the guidelines, not the schools: "Their hands are tied. The loss of federal money would be catastrophic."
Why don't colleges just turn sexual assault cases over to police to prosecute? Because there's rarely enough evidence to convict in a real court of law. Harris points to a case at the University of North Dakota in which a judicial board found a student guilty of rape under the preponderance standard and expelled him. The victim had also reported the rape to police--who charged her with filing a false report. "The potential for abuse and injustice is tremendous," Harris says. "We have to protect victims' rights, but how many innocent students is it right to convict to do so?" Due process, she says, doesn't just safeguard the accused; it preserves the integrity of the judicial system. "If I were sending a son off to college now," she adds, "I'd be very concerned."
Sokolow's response? "FIRE is sticking up for penises everywhere."
Somebody has to.
This, from Sokolow, is particularly disgusting:
"'The number of expelled students is going to go way up,' Sokolow predicts--a prospect he's looking forward to."
Details on FIRE's protests of the new regulations here.