On Sunday, November 16, I, along with a large portion of the Wesleyan Student Assembly (WSA), participated in the Title IX discussion hosted on the third floor of Usdan. A few weeks prior, I had gone through the full bystander intervention training program. Due to many of the misconceptions I have heard recently regarding Title IX, I am going to clarify information based on what I learned at the forum.

One of the most important aspects of Title IX is that it must be seen as an even playing field for both the survivor and the accused. Any perception of it as biased in favor of one party over the other, or as a “kangaroo court,” is extremely dangerous to the cohesion of the student body. Therefore, suggestions such as suspending due process (which one Argus author implored us to do), or kicking all individuals accused of sexual misconduct or assault off campus, are setting off a gender war on campus. Survivors, who are usually women, want to know that if they are assaulted, they have a fair court to pursue justice; the accused, usually men, want to know that they will have a fair chance to explain their side of the story.

The balance is important in this all-too-common situation on campus: Two individuals with alcohol in their systems decide to engage in sexual activity. After waking up the next day, there is an issue of whether that activity was consensual. One party might feel as though ze was taken advantage of, and in the “kick-all-the-accused-out” system, the other party would be sent packing. But in a balanced system, where consent is a two-way street, neither side could give consent because they have both been intoxicated. Both men and women (or, in the case of same-sex relationships, both parties) have an equal claim and responsibility to give and receive consent, despite the prevailing stigma that exists on campus. I understand that the survivor might feel violated, and I believe she should receive counseling and support. But a large number of these “gray-area” cases take place under these conditions, commonly known as “he said, she said cases,” and are next to impossible to adjudicate fairly. For that reason, many of these cases are dismissed, or the accused receives only a few disciplinary points. On the other hand, if one party purposely feeds the other party alcohol with the intent of using the drinks as a date-rape drug, then a clear and apparent sexual assault has taken place and the accused will be kicked off campus.

One of the biggest sources of misinformation and moral preaching surrounds this issue of how cases are adjudicated. I have heard several conversations about how points are handed out in sexual misconduct and assault cases. One person in such a conversation might say, “A rapist could end up with fewer points than someone caught with pot.” That statement, however, is simply untrue. A person who is accused of a sexual assault that is clearly provable is immediately sent packing. Such a person does not pass go and does not collect $200: He receives the maximum number of points and is expelled. The variation in points is due to the gray-area cases I described above, where there are conflicting stories, witness accounts (or the witnesses themselves were intoxicated), both parties involved were intoxicated, or there is no evidence of assault.

This is not to say that the system can’t be improved. The requirement for the survivor to repeat her story over and over during the investigation is horrifying to me. Equally horrifying is the fact that the investigators’ interviews with survivors are not recorded. As it stands right now, the investigator writes a summary of the interview; this summary will likely contain subjectivity and could contain bias. The survivor should be required to tell hir story only once, the interview should be recorded by a camera or voice recorder, and then a seal should be placed around the survivor.

The perception that men cannot be raped also has to disappear from the system. I have heard anecdotal evidence that men who have gone through the system are not treated seriously. If the incorrect perception—that a man should be able to defend himself against an attacker—exists in the system, then it needs to be eradicated. Similarly, women can rape other women, a fact that needs to be taken seriously as well. The queer population at Wesleyan is large, and it deserves the same protections as the heterosexual population.

Finally, I would like to take issue with how students are being educated about sexual assault prevention on campus: namely, the fact that any sort of education about how people can avoid potentially dangerous sexual situations is classified as “victim blaming” and that we should focus on teaching people not to rape. This line of thought is extremely dangerous for a few reasons. First, there is always going to be a small segment of the population who is going to conduct sexual misconduct and assault. All of the education, proselytizing, grandstanding, soapboxing, yelling and screaming, and pleading is going to go in one ear and out the other. Some people are going to sexually assault; there is no getting around that. Second, telling the rest of the student body that the sole responsibility is on one party to gain consent, instead of encouraging it to be a two-way street and promoting common sense, sets up a dream world in which everyone will behave properly, which has already been disproven.

As far as the administration goes, I would suggest trying to flip the script on how the public relations about a sexual assault are handled. Instead of it being seen as a black eye on the University’s face, it should be seen as the University acknowledging that every college campus has sexual assaulters, and that it is not afraid to kick those individuals off campus no matter who they are related to. In a country where a lot of campuses are coming under fire for how they handle sexual assaults, being seen as one of the few that is competently handling an issue that every other college struggles with will place the University well above its peers and be the standard that other colleges try to achieve. As the old adage goes, covering up a sexual assault is far more damaging than admitting that they exist on campus and that the University is trying to rectify the situation.

To the Wesleyan student population: Soapbox preaching, manipulation of data, extremism, dissemination of misinformation, and witch hunting is hurting, not helping. On this serious issue, cool level-headedness is what we need.

 

Stascavage is a member of the class of 2018.

 

  • DavidDoe

    Anti-female and pro-rape, thats what this is.

    There are many studies and statistics which prove that rape culture exists. CDC for instance states that nearly 1 in 5 women (http://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/pdf/sv-datasheet-a.pdf) are raped at some time in their lives. President Barack Obama (see video below) has stated that 1 in 5 of female students are sexually assaulted during their stay on college campus. It is also estimated that women make 77 cents for every 1 dollar a man earns, which is a form of financial rape.

    Unless the facts change, there is no need to change the policy regarding rape. The truth is undeniable and it is very hurtful that you are apologizing for rape.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6uvhYjmAiEc

    • ?!…

      you said this article is PRO RAPE?!!!!!!!!!! do you realize how ridiculous you sound? are you trying to do your own camp a disservice? you sound like some deep cover rich white rapist trying to give extreme feminists a bad name by posting illogical and facetious comments. well executed ;)

  • Wesstudent

    David Doe you’re the problem with discussions like this. You’re not even attempting to have a civil discussion of this issue, which is evident through your use of “financial rape.” Charged words like this turns people away from the issue because it quickly turns into a screaming match where rape is an adjective to every word. As Bryan has mentioned, cool level headedness is the best way to approach this issue, not screaming rape at the top your lungs.

  • ’01 Lawyer

    Wesstudent you’re being ridiculous. “Cool level-headedness” is not the best way to approach the university’s continual fumbling of this issue, which has been a public embarrassment for something like a half decade (and I’m sure a private embarrassment for much longer). I have zero interest in engaging in a civil discussion on this subject, and I’m looking forward to telling the next alumni association caller that they simply are not moving with sufficient speed or aggression to address it. My suspicion is that they think alumni donors feel too much fondness for our football and fraternity heritage to care, and I’m looking forward to clearing that up.

    • ___

      when is cool level headedness not a good approach to anything? as a lawyer you should know better to than to espouse a reactionary stance…there are ways to address the issue in a fair manner, and that gives both parties are fair shot at SUBSTANTIATING there claims. any other starting position is more likely to lead to miscarriages of justice. that you have ‘zero interest in engaging in a civil discussion on this subject’ is a blatantly unbalanced perspective. and given your opinion on how much ‘football and fraternities’ are favoured, I wonder if you were ever involved/included in either of these institutions. as both an athlete and a fraternity member, I can assure you that Wesleyan insists on academic standards above sporting prowess (aka footballers still have to maintain reasonable academic standards) and fraternities have never been more marginalized (that’s why we aren’t allowed any social events/are policed by the school/ are constantly slandered by the student body and intolerant administration.) the fact that alums are flying planes over campus should give you some idea of the pressure fraternities are under. this is not UVA, this is Wesleyan so get a grip (aka a more balanced perspective.) no one of any intelligence is interested in your drivel. and btw what do you really know of the recent allegations/cases other than what you’ve read online. are you privy to the evidence/ hearings? are you personally connected to the involved parties? if the answer is NO, I suggest you educate yourself further before making loose, and otherwise substance free comments that simply add to the grandstanding/vitriol/lack of fairness that this reasonable author has been protesting. I thought lawyers dealt in evidence not pure rhetoric and bullshit. oh wait… if there was a legal battle on the fairness of the current culture, I would chew you up and spit you out. and im at least a decade your junior. embarrassing.

    • ___

      it would also be proper of you to further explain and substantiate wesleyan’s alleged ‘continual fumbling’ of the sexual assault issue, rather than just making the claim (another lazy and offhand remark that is rife in these discussions) what direct and specific evidence can you furnish? what specific and repeated issues with the judicial process have there been that leads you to this conclusion? are you familiar with the tile IX procedures that have been implemented to reduce the standard of acceptable evidence in favour of the plaintiff? how can you say that guilty parties simply get away with crimes when the judicial process is explicitly not in their favour? as a reasonable individual, I am OPEN to your claim but would like to see some powerful and compelling remarks in your favour…if you cannot provide this then you are quite simply a nuisance and a pest.

  • ’01 Lawyer

    I should also add, if ever there was a great example of false equivalence between two desires, this would be it: “Survivors, who are usually women, want to know that if they are assaulted, they have a fair court to pursue justice; the accused, usually men, want to know that they will have a fair chance to explain their side of the story.”

  • Vel

    “Anonymous” reported her sexual assault on campus and she was blamed and attacked. Men seemed to feel victimized (??). This wasn’t your everyday, run-of-the- mill, regular and recurring sexual assault that occurs on the Wesleyan campus that everyone seems to be defending as normal and the result of confusion over consent. Maybe I’m a prude or not quite as progressive as the average on campus resident but I don’t engage in choking and biting when I’m having consensual sex. This was the act of a sadist, not a horny jock.

    • —-

      you’re a joke. no one takes your commentary seriously

  • Vel

    We have become UVA of the North-East http://www.rollingstone.com/culture/features/a-rape-on-campus-20141119 . Oh, we should be so proud!

    • ’17 student

      Talk to girls that go to UConn what its like to go to one of their parties. If you think that we are even close to being on the same level as UVA then you are either delusional or been trapped in the Wes bubble for far too long.

  • Alum 13

    I applaud you for this effort. This is the first article on the topic I have seen from the Argus which is actually fair and well written.

    Good Job!

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  • we are anonymous

    the voice of reason .

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