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Campus Rape & Witch-Hunting

Everybody is talking about Emily Yoffe’s extremely well done Slate essay about campus anti-rape activism and an atmosphere of witch-hunting it has conjured. Excerpt:

Any woman who is raped, on campus or off, deserves a fair and thorough investigation of her claim, and those found guilty should be punished. But the new rules—rules often put in place hastily and in response to the idea of a rape epidemic on campus—have left some young men saying they are the ones who have been victimized. They are starting to push back. In the past three years, men found responsible for sexual assault on campus have filed more than three dozen cases against schools. They argue that their due process rights have been violated and say they have been victims of gender discrimination under Title IX. Their complaints are starting to cost universities. The higher education insurance group United Educatorsdid a study of the 262 insurance claims it paid to students between 2006 and 2010 because of campus sexual assault, at a cost to the group of $36 million. The vast majority of the payouts, 72 percent, went to the accused—young men who protested their treatment by universities.

Assertions of injustice by young men are infuriating to some. Caroline Heldman, an associate professor of politics at Occidental College and co-founder of End Rape on Campus, said of the men who are turning to the courts, “These lawsuits are an incredible display of entitlement, the same entitlement that drove them to rape.” Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Missouri, a co-sponsor of the CASA bill, said to the Washington Post of these suits, “I don’t think we are anywhere near a tipping point where the people accused of this are somehow being treated unfairly.”

I’ve read through the court filings and investigative reports of a number of these cases, and it’s clear to me that many of the accused are indeed being treated unfairly. Government officials and campus administrators are attempting to legislate the bedroom behavior of students with rules and requirements that would be comic if their effects weren’t frequently so tragic. The legal filings in the cases brought by young men accused of sexual violence often begin like a script for a college sex farce but end with the protagonist finding himself in a Soviet-style show trial. Or, as in the case of Drew Sterrett, punished with no trial at all.

What happened to Drew Sterrett is terrifying — and unfortunately, likely to keep happening, especially with professors, activists, and the federal government involved. More:

To punish the alleged perpetrators of sexual violence, colleges have put in place systems that are heavy-handed and unfair. Efforts to prevent sexual violence from occurring are unfortunately no more enlightened. College students today are increasingly treated as a special sexual caste, who unlike their peers out in the working world can’t be relied upon to have sex without convoluted regulations that treat lovemaking as if it were a contract negotiation. Often, they are governed by a regimen called “affirmative consent,” an attempt by legislators and administrators to remove all ambiguity from sex.

The federal government has so far not mandated affirmative consent as a national standard, but states have been enthusiastically embracing the idea. Andrew Cuomo, governor of New York, recently enacted an affirmative consent standard for all State University of New York schools, calling the statistics on sexual assault “breathtaking.” California just became the first state to write the practiceinto law for all public and private colleges. The precise rules vary from place to place, but the point is to systematize the progression of a sexual encounter. Consent can’t be presumed—even between members of an established couple. It must be affirmatively given—for each and every sexual encounter and for every sex act.

Read the whole thing. Madness. The power this gives to activists and angry

At Ohio State University, two young people who want to engage in sexual congress might be well advised to first consult with the philosophy department and the law school. The university’s consent guidelinesstate, in part: “Consent is a knowing and voluntary verbal or non-verbal agreement between both parties to participate in each and every sexual act.” “Effective consent can be given by words or actions so long as the words or actions create a mutual understanding between both parties regarding the conditions of the sexual activity—ask, ‘do both of us understand and agree regarding the who, what, where, when, why, and how this sexual activity will take place?’” “Regardless of past experiences with other partners or your current partner, consent must be obtained. Consent can never be assumed, even in the context of a relationship.”

Read the whole thing. It’s an excellent and, in light of the UVA witch hunt, an extremely relevant piece of journalism. If things don’t change, I will be as concerned about my sons going off to college than I will be about my daughter. It seems that we will never, ever learn that rolling over individual rights and due process for the sake of fighting evil is something we will come to regret.

about the author

Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. He has written and edited for the New York Post, The Dallas Morning News, National Review, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, the Washington Times, and the Baton Rouge Advocate. Rod’s commentary has been published in The Wall Street Journal, Commentary, the Weekly Standard, Beliefnet, and Real Simple, among other publications, and he has appeared on NPR, ABC News, CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, and the BBC. He lives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, with his wife Julie and their three children. He has also written four books, The Little Way of Ruthie Leming, Crunchy Cons, How Dante Can Save Your Life, and The Benedict Option.

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