For years I have written about the impossible situation schools are in when it comes to allegations of sexual assault. Schools have skewed their processes so far toward believing all accusers that wrongly accused students have had to sue in order to get their lives back, leading to the Trump administration issuing new guidelines requiring schools to require basic due process in their adjudications.
The problem for schools has always been that if they find an accused student guilty, and that student sues, few media outlets will cover the lawsuit. If an accuser, however, claims a school let her “rapist” walk free, she will likely receive national attention. The most famous example of this was Emma Sulkowicz, known as “Mattress Girl,” who claimed Columbia University didn’t punish the man she said rapist and was plastered all over the media and put on the cover of media, hailed as a hero. In reality, the school found the man she accused “not responsible” because the evidence was against her.
Accusers have used this threat to get schools to abandon truth, fairness, and the due process in order to find accused students responsible – to avoid bad publicity. Yet now, at Coastal Carolina University, a woman publicly accusing the university of mishandling her rape allegations has prompted the school to hold a question and answer session with interested parties to explain its adjudication process.
The woman claimed the school found her “rapist” didn’t violate Title IX even though he admitted to “not having verbal consent.” This could obviously be leaving out information, as “verbal consent” is not required if there is nonverbal consent. Perhaps the school determined nonverbal consent was given.
“Recently, conversations have taken place on social media channels regarding individual cases of alleged sexual misconduct and the outcomes of those cases in the university’s student conduct process. The university administration takes these comments very seriously, and we understand how circumstances of this nature can cause real concern,” the school said in a statement.
CCU is no stranger to controversy surrounding its definition of consent. In 2015, I reported on a poster that was seen hanging at the university that said: “Jake was drunk. Josie was drunk. Jake and Josie hooked up. Josie could NOT consent.”
At the bottom, the poster said: A woman who is intoxicated cannot give her legal consent for sex, so proceeding under these circumstances is a crime.”
The sex-discrimination should be obvious: If both students were drunk, why is only the man responsible?
At this time, CCU has made no indication that it will re-evaluate the specific case mentioned on social media, but the Q&A itself still shows the school’s bias. It is hard to imagine that a male accused student who was found responsible would be able to prompt the school into holding such a session if he believed he was wrongly accused.
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