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Friday, October 21, 2016

If one believes even a significant fraction of the horror stories in the national news media, beastly male behavior has become almost epidemic on American college campuses. Tales of drunken sexual assault and worse multiply from sea to shining sea.

Even the Obama administration is getting in on the act. Based upon the dubious claim that one in five college women is a victim of sexual assault — if people really believed that, even “highly selective” schools couldn’t keep their dorms filled — there’s now a “White House Task Force to Protect Students from Campus Assault.”

Colleges are being warned to tighten up their procedures or face the consequences of violating women’s civil rights. I fear that what this basically involves is more pointless committee work for professors ill-suited to conduct quasi-criminal investigations to begin with.

The struggle against what feminists call “rape culture” has become a defining theme on the left. Washington Post columnist George Will recently made himself a campus pariah by arguing that when progressives “make victimhood a coveted status that confers privileges, victims proliferate.”

If the specific case that Will wrote about — a Swarthmore student who got into bed with a former “hookup” partner, tired of fending off his advances, gave in so she could sleep, and then filed rape charges six months later — certainly justified skepticism, his sneering tone offended many.

The young woman subsequently appeared on CNN, where she spoke melodramatically of herself as a “survivor.”

Meanwhile, Philadelphia magazine reports, little Swarthmore — its 1,500-member student body filled with Honor Society grads — experienced a sharp upsurge in sexual assault reports, from 11 in 2012 to 91 in 2013. It’s unlikely that student behavior changed so dramatically over one year.

Clearly something else did.

A far more troubling incident was recently reported in exhaustive detail by Walt Bogdanich in the New York Times. The saga of Anna, an 18-year-old freshman at Hobart and William Smith Colleges in upstate New York, who has gone public about her alleged rape by several football players, can’t help but make one wonder if academic institutions can be trusted to investigate serious felonies at all.

No brief summary can communicate the awfulness of Anna’s experience. Suffice it to say that within two weeks of matriculating at the college, she and a group of friends went to a post-football game fraternity party, where they warmed up for the festivities by drinking rum shots in Gatorade. The cop who eventually drove Anna to the hospital at 2am had to pull over four times to let her vomit in the road.

Anna danced provocatively with a football jock she’d met, and then, ignoring her friend’s warnings, accompanied him upstairs to a bedroom. What happened next is hotly disputed. At one point, Anna texted a friend that there were 10 guys there trying to “hook up” with her, and that she was scared. She later told an investigating committee that she’d exaggerated to get attention. Friends set out to rescue Anna.

“We need to find her ASAP,” one texted. “She is so drunk.”

Three football players later claimed she’d pulled down their pants and performed oral sex on them. Anna’s friends eventually found her in a campus dance hall called the “Barn,” where one saw her having sex on a pool table while other students laughed and took photos. He thought she looked scared.

I warned you it was awful.

To this day, Anna remembers nothing about the Barn or the pool table. But en route to the hospital she started to remember three football players raping her in the frat house. A physical examination showed evidence of rough sex. It also found semen in several locations.

Instead of filing criminal charges, Anna filed a complaint with the college.

As my friend Craig Barnes commented in an online colloquy “I’ve never understood how a felony offense can be investigated by anyone other than police. Can anyone explain that to me? Would an on-campus murder be investigated by the university?”

Good question. Bogdanich’s account of the campus disciplinary hearing — somebody leaked the transcript — reads like a Monty Python script. Two of three panelists neglected to examine the physical evidence. Absurd questions and pointless digressions occurred throughout.

Two things you can count on with any academic committee: There are no set procedures and nobody’s in charge.

In the end, they exonerated the jocks. Don’t they always?

Cops and prosecutors too often come to unsatisfactory conclusions, if only because — as in Anna’s case — rape charges are notoriously hard to prove. Imagine the poor kid under cross-examination trying to convince a jury that her memories weren’t drunken nightmares.

The Times account itself has several obvious holes. Where did the student photos go? Were there no DNA samples?

Obviously, neither trial by newspaper nor faculty committee will suffice. Nor can any White House Task Force remedy the heedless barbarism this dreary tale illustrates.

Photo via Wikimedia Commons

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Copyright 2014 The National Memo
  • Theodora30

    From an article in today’s NY Times:

    Francesco C. Cesareo, the president of Assumption College, in Massachusetts, and chairman of the United States bishops’ national review board on child abuse, said that the board “doesn’t delve into local matters,” but that in general bishops should be following a policy of zero tolerance: “The Charter is very clear that once a credible allegation has been established that the cleric is to be permanently removed from ministry.”

    Notice no mention of informing the police. People need to understand that sexual assault is a crime that needs to be reported to the police, not some institution that will protect its own interests no matter what their official policy. In the case of abuse of minors it is a crime not to report it, at least in some states, yet the Catholic Church still seems to think it is above the law. (Sadly given today’s Supreme Court majority of 5 conservative Roman Catholic men they may well be right.)
    As for the 20% assault figure, from what I have read that figure includes attempted assaults.

    • JSquercia

      Perhaps even more troubling is the “punishment” to students found guilty y college Administrators . In one case the the offender was expelled fro the school –GET THIS — AFTER he graduated . The punishment was he would not allowed on campus for such events as Homecoming an reunions

  • Bill Thompson

    Make no mistake the present enforcement systems in colleges overall today are abysmal. My son attended the University of Hartford at that school there was a invisible line. On one side of the line where the upperclassman, 21 years old and older drinking is permissible. The other side were people under 21 no drinking allowed, what a joke. The common ground where both sides can socialize resembled Woodstock every night. Drugs of all kinds are used regularly. The drink of choice today, because it is the cheapest way to get wasted is hard alcohol. In case you haven’t noticed the alcohol companies have targeted the younger generation with flavored alcohol resembling chocolate, honey and every other tasty flavor imaginable. Make no mistake I have never been a teetotaler but what goes on in the college setting is ridiculous.
    My sons dorm room looked like a biohazard site without exaggeration mold broken glass rotted food absolutely disgusting. They got away with this because one of his roommates was sleeping with the RA. Einstein would’ve had problems succeeding in this environment.
    It is little wonder that more kids aren’t abused or damaged or assaulted on these campuses. The administration has Tonnele vision until the time of an
    horrific incident. College today is nothing more than big business they do not want to draw attention to the problems that exist and they do not want to lose money. They want to handle everything in house if it even gets to that point. The truth of the matter is just about anything goes and never call the police unless absolutely necessary.
    My advice to all parents stop in unannounced often.
    PS He did graduate but not without a lot of unnecessary drama. Truth of the matter most kids are not ready in this day and age to be on their own without supervision.

  • sigrid28

    Your tax dollars at work! Institutions of “higher learning,” (I use this term under duress, simply because it is familiar even though it may no longer be warranted) now operate to fulfill two goals: first, to attract and maintain wealthy donors who count it a privilege to indulge highly-paid tenured faculty and administrators, and second, to recruit students who will pay exorbitant tuition and fees, which have increased far beyond the rate of inflation for years–notice I did not say anything about education as a principal goal of these institutions. In this wasteful and elaborate scheme, students are an unwanted distraction and basically are treated that way, once they have enrolled and paid Government loans constitute a major part of the loot that payrolls this extravaganza, which is why this slate of hand ought to concern all of us, not just students and their families. Some colleges and universities have done away with the onus of coping with adolescents altogether by offering courses online. In this climate, parents who think their children might benefit from a college education should investigate this option carefully, as life on most campuses is a free-for-all that puts students and their families not only at risk but in debt for the rest of their lives.

  • Daniel Jones

    I’ll answer the topic question.