Jan 282015

Is Senator Kirsten Gillibrand Grandstanding At The Expense of Due Process?

Dianna Thompson and Cynthia Garrett
January 27, 2015

Those concerned with the continued dismantling of campus due process protections were cringing at Senator Kirsten Gillibrand’s (D-NY) decision to invite Columbia University senior Emma Sulkowicz to accompany her to the State of the Union address. Ms. Sulkowicz gained attention last year for carrying around the mattress upon which she was allegedly assaulted by another student.

Senator Gillibrand’s decision to enlist Ms. Sulkowicz’s support for her Campus Accountability and Safety Act is perplexing because, although Ms. Sulkowicz’s narrative has become legendary and she has received numerous awards as a media darling, Sulkowicz’s claim that she was violently raped, or that the university mishandled her case is subject to debate. The truth is that Columbia conducted an investigation of Sulkowicz’s accusations and afforded her a hearing during which she was required to prove her claims were “more likely than not” true, or by a preponderance of the evidence — the lowest possible standard of proof which is, effectively, little more than a coin toss.

In the current political climate with nearly 100 colleges and universities being investigated for mishandling sexual assault allegations and the threat of loss of federal funding as an incentive to carefully adjudicate these cases, the fact that Columbia’s tribunal was unable to substantiate Sulkowicz’s allegations should, like her mattress, be given substantial weight.

Ms. Sulkowicz was unhappy with Columbia’s decision, so she has mounted a campaign of revenge, forever maligning the reputation of the young man who has been cleared of these charges. Sulkowicz’s relentless campaign does not prove her accusations, and they should not be treated as true by legislators attempting to gain support for their political objectives.

By inviting Ms Sulkowicz to accompany her, Senator Gillibrand undoubtedly wanted to send Congress the message that passage of her proposed Campus Accountability and Safety Act is necessary to protect students in their college environments. However, in her effort to push through the bill, Senator Gillibrand not only is willing to use a dubious victim, Gillibrand is also willing to use discredited and out of date statistics and unsubstantiated data.

For example, Senator Gillibrand’s website claims that “Currently, a woman in America who attends college is more likely to be a victim of sexual assault than one who does not attend college.” This is not accurate and there is no excuse for Senator Gillibrand’s blatant disregard of the most recent U.S. Department of Justice’s (DOJ) survey, published in December 2014, which shows that “nonstudents in the same age group are subjected to sexual assault between 1.2 and 1.7 times more frequently than are college students.”

Thankfully, Senator Gillibrand’s website recently deleted reference to the much criticized and now discredited National Institute of Justice 2007 Campus Sexual Assault Study, which purportedly established that one in five college students would be sexually assaulted during their college career. Instead, the December 2014 DOJ report found that the rate of rape and sexual assault for college students is actually, “6.1 per 1000, or less than 1 out of 100 students per year” and DOJ’s estimates include assaults not reported to law enforcement.

Campuses have been scrambling to correct their previous unresponsiveness to sexual assault allegations since the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) issued its 2011 “Dear Colleague Letter,” which dictates how every private and public college and university in the country receiving federal aid must investigate, adjudicate and report alleged incidents of sexual assault involving their students. Although OCR’s directives do not have the force of regulations, campuses comply with them because of OCR’s threat to withdraw funding for noncompliance.

In the recent Boston Globe opinion piece entitled “Rethink Harvard’s sexual harassment policy,” written by twenty-eight Harvard Law professors, they warned that OCR’s directives “lack the most basic elements of fairness and due process, are overwhelmingly stacked against the accused, and are in no way required by Title IX law or regulation.”

OCR’s mandates have contributed to a confluence of factors resulting in the tendency toward false guilt findings in campus adjudicatory processes. These factors include OCR’s requirement that campuses lower the standard of proof to a “preponderance of the evidence” when determining guilt. This lowest possible standard of proof, which requires a mere 50.01% certainty, is traditionally restricted to matters in which money is at issue, not reputation, quasi criminal behavior, access to higher education or future employment prospects.

Another factor contributing to the likelihood of guilty findings is the denial of fundamental procedural due process protections in campus adjudicatory processes, which offset the risk of error stemming from the lower standard of proof. This means there are no evidentiary rules, no discovery, no cross-examination and the like. To make matters worse for accused students, campus definitions of “sexual assault” now are so broad that they convert perfectly legal activities into “sexual assault” on campus, even when engaged in by adults. And in the current climate, in order to protect their employers from OCR sanctions adjudicators seek to report a higher number of sexual assaults to OCR.

Why is the possibility of false accusations being ignored? Perhaps because the general consensus is that false allegations are rare or nearly nonexistent. Unfortunately, a 1996 report funded by the National Institute of Justice found that “in about 25 percent of the sexual assault cases referred to the FBI … the primary suspect has been excluded by forensic DNA testing.” Similarly, a nine-year study of a small metropolitan area in the Midwestern United States found that 41 percent of rape accusations were false. Since inexperienced campus tribunals are adjudicating sexual assault accusations with no procedural safeguards and without gathering or testing evidence such as DNA, how is it possible that the rate of false allegations on campuses could be lower than that discovered through DNA testing? More importantly, how many innocent young men will be expelled and their futures devastated before Senator Gillibrand, her cosponsors of the Campus Accountability Safety Act, and Congress pay attention?

No one doubts that sexual assault on college campuses needed to be addressed. But it is critical that our representatives in Congress rely on credible statistics and substantiated data when drafting legislation with the potential to destroy lives. The truth must always be the starting point for and the foundation of legislative proposals and public relations campaigns.

Dianna Thompson is the Director of Stop Abuse for Everyone and a member of the Advocacy Committee for Families Advocating for Campus Equality. She can be reached at dthompson2232@gmail.com. Cynthia P. Garrett, Esq. is on the Board of Directors and the Advocacy Committee Director for Families Advocating for Campus Equality. Their website is www.facecampusequality.org

Source: http://dailycaller.com/2015/01/27/is-kirsten-gillibrand-grandstanding-at-the-expense-of-due-process/

Jan 272015

E-Lert: SAVE Scores against Famous Goalie

U.S. Soccer announced last week that Hope Solo is suspended from the women’s team for 30 days. Their decision is due to several events, including her aggressive behavior towards police last week. http://es.pn/1ymXAJi

We are elated with this decision as we see, over and over again, that women are not held to the law for their violent behavior. If anything the victims are made to look like the criminals!

Call U.S. Soccer right now and say thanks! Even though the team is headed into some important matches, they did the right thing. The buck stops here!

U.S. Soccer Phone Number: (312) 808-1300

Truly yours,
Gina Lauterio, Esq., Program Director
Stop Abusive and Violent Environments

P.S. Please take a moment to forward to a family member or friend.

Jan 272015

Kirsten Gillibrand blasted for decision to invite Columbia ‘mattress girl’ to SOTU

Valerie Richardson
January 26, 2015

In this Jan. 21, 2014, photo, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., chair of the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Personnel, is interviewed by The Associated Press about her proposal to let military prosecutors rather than commanders make decisions on whether to prosecute sexual assaults in the military, in her Capitol Hill office in Washington.

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand is coming under fire for hosting at the State of the Union address Emma Sulkowicz, the Columbia University student known as “mattress girl,” whose anti-rape campaign against a fellow student has been criticized as harassment.

Ms. Sulkowicz has become a symbol of the campus anti-rape movement for her “Carry That Weight” project, in which she has vowed to lug a mattress around campus until a student she accused of rape is expelled or leaves Columbia, a campaign her critics describe as a “personal vendetta.”

Families Advocating for Campus Equality (FACE) blasted the New York Democrat’s decision to invite Ms. Sulkowicz to Thursday’s address, calling the honor “undeserved.”

“Sen. Gillibrand’s honor to Ms. Sulkowicz is undeserved and violates the principles of confidentiality and gender equality of Title IX, the law that oversees sexual misconduct on campus,” said FACE in a Sunday statement. “Ms. Sulkowicz failed to establish any wrongdoing by the student she accused after a tribunal, and an appeal at Columbia, as well as an investigation by the New York Police Department.”

Paul Nungesser, the student she accused of rape, said last week that Ms. Sulkowicz’s accusations are “untrue and unfounded.”

“I am shocked to learn that Sen. Gillibrand is actively supporting Ms. Sulkowicz’s defamation campaign against me by providing her with a public forum in which to broadcast her grave allegation,” Mr. Nungesser told New York Magazine. “By doing so, Sen. Gillibrand is participating in a harassment campaign against someone, who, for good reason, has been found innocent by all investigating bodies.”

Ms. Gillibrand, sponsor of the Campus Accountability and Safety Act, praised Ms. Sulkowicz as “one of a growing chorus of student survivor activists who have taken matters into their own hands by telling their stories of assault in order to shine a light on the scourge of sexual assault on our college campuses today.”

“I can’t tell you how inspired I have been by Emma and all of her sisters in arms who have made their voices heard and given voice to thousands of other survivors all around the country,” Ms. Gillibrand said in a Thursday op-ed for Huffington Post. “This is their movement, and it’s my hope that by inviting Emma to the State of the Union, we can further amplify her voice as we work to reform the system that all too often sweeps sexual assaults under the rug.”

The senator also said Ms. Sulkowicz’s mattress-carrying project symbolizes “the burden she carries every single day as long as her rapist is still on campus,” a description that brought a rebuke from Brooklyn College professor K.C. Johnson.

“Note the senator’s remarkable word choice. Gillibrand didn’t say ‘as long as her alleged rapist is still on campus.’ Or ‘as long as the person she says raped her is still on campus,’ ” said Mr. Johnson in a post on the website “Minding the Campus.”

“No: Gillibrand, a sitting U.S. senator, has described a Columbia student as a ‘rapist’ — that is, someone guilty of a criminal act — based solely on an allegation from a single person. And not merely a generic type of allegation, but one that even Columbia didn’t deem credible and the police did not pursue,” Mr. Johnson said.

Ms. Sulkowicz, a senior visual arts major, has accused Mr. Nungesser of raping her in her dorm room in her sophomore year. After the university found him not responsible, Ms. Sulkowicz and others filed a federal complaint against Columbia.

Universities have come under pressure from the Obama administration to crack down on campus sexual assault, which critics say has resulted in a process that increasingly leans in favor of the accuser and against the accused.

“[E]ven under Columbia’s extraordinarily imbalanced sexual assault policy, which tilts nearly all procedures in the advantage of the accusing student, the disciplinary panel didn’t find Sulkowicz’s allegation credible,” Mr. Johnson said. “Why Gillibrand came to believe Sulkowicz remains unclear.”

Ms. Gillibrand’s invitation comes amid a backlash over the campus anti-rape movement, which culminated in November in Rolling Stone magazine’s decision to apologize for an article about an alleged gang rape at the University of Virginia after questions about its credibility surfaced.

FACE was founded in July by Sherry Seefeld, whose son was suspended from college after a rape accusation from a fellow student ultimately charged with filing a false police report.

“Sen. Gillibrand’s choice to honor Ms. Sulkowicz is offensive to basic fairness, and the rights of any student, male or female, who has faced accusations of sexual misconduct, participated in a Title IX tribunal and prevailed,” the FACE statement said. “That student is as a matter of law innocent, and has the right to stay on campus and complete his education in peace.”

Source: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2015/jan/26/kirsten-gillibrand-blasted-decision-invite-columbi/?page=1#ixzz3Q1ckR8Dw

Jan 262015

Did Slanted NPR Story Lead to Hasty, Illegal Education Department Sexual Harassment Rules?

Hans Bader
January 26, 2015

Bad things can happen when an agency (like the Education Department) throws caution to the wind and regulates based on slanted media coverage from National Public Radio, rather than facts and evidence.

Checks and balances exist for a reason. When agencies impose new obligations on the institutions they regulate, they are supposed to first give the public notice of their proposed rule, and an opportunity to comment on it. This requirement, mandated by the Administrative Procedure Act, enables members of the public to point to legal or factual mistakes that may have precipitated the agency’s proposed rules.

But under the Obama administration, the Education Department has ignored these requirements. In “Dear Colleague” letters and “guidance” documents issued without any prior notice or comment, it has imposed on colleges a series of detailed, prescriptive, and controversial rules for responding to allegations of sexual harassment or assault—rules very much at odds with the deferential tenor of the Supreme Court’s Gebser and Davis decisions.

Those rules include procedures, time tables, and evidence rules that sharply contrast with those previously used by many colleges for all categories of offenses. This has pressured colleges to create a costly, specialized bureaucracy on campus to handle sexual offenses, rather than using one disciplinary system for all offenses.

In recent investigations, the Education Department has interpreted this “guidance” as mandating “interim measures” against accused students who have yet to be found guilty of anything, and as restricting certain evidence of innocence that would be permitted in court, as law professor David Bernstein noted at the in the Volokh Conspiracy, and I describe in the Daily Caller.

This unfair micro-management of college discipline has led to a series of costly lawsuits against colleges by students claiming they were unfairly expelled as a result. For example, in Wells v. Xavier University, 7 F. Supp. 3d 746 (S.D. Ohio 2014), a judge allowed a student’s lawsuit claiming the college used unfair procedures to expel him to appease the Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights, where I used to work.

But it now appears that the Education Department’s rules micromanaging college discipline were precipitated by a deceptive NPR report about the University of Wisconsin’s purported mishandling of a sexual assault claim. That report, jointly produced with the Center for Public Integrity, made statistical claims that would later be debunked, and ignored evidence of accused students’ innocence that any judge—female or male, liberal or conservative—would take seriously, and would be admissible in any sexual assault prosecution in America. (See, e.g., State v. Garron (2003).)

That’s the upshot of a commentary last Friday in the The Daily Beast by the American Enterprise Institute’s Christina Hoff Sommers, describing the litany of misleading claims in NPR horribly slanted “investigative reporting series” entitled “Sexual Assault on Campus: A Frustrating Search for Justice.”

Imagine how the Education Department’s rules might be fairer and better if the Education Department had taken its time and provided notice and the opportunity for comment, rather than just issuing them out of the blue.

The complainant in that case, Laura Dunn, now sits on the White House Task Force on Sexual Assault (which in January 2014 advocated excluding certain kinds of evidence of innocence), even though her allegations have proven to be internally inconsistent and contradictory, and were apparently found to be unsubstantiated back in 2008 by career staff at the Office for Civil Rights.

Rather than waiting for the legally-required “notice and comment,” the Education Department hastily released new rules regulating colleges in a “Dear Colleague” letter on April 4, 2011, to coincide with a White House PR event on that date featuring Vice President Biden, an event set on the anniversary of the complainant’s alleged assault. As Dunn would tell the Christian Science Monitor, that event “was my justice.”

Those rules ordered the nation’s colleges to stop using a clear-and-convincing standard of evidence, even though a Yale Law Journal article once observed that “Courts, universities and student defendants all seem to agree that the appropriate standard of proof in student disciplinary cases is one of ‘clear and convincing’ evidence.”

The White House Task Force and the Education Department have also sought to undermine due process by restricting cross-examination even when it is needed and a college would like to permit it. The White House Task Force Report declares that “the parties should not be allowed to personally cross-examine each other.” Less sweepingly, the Education Department’s guidance says (p. 31): “OCR strongly discourages a school from allowing the parties to personally question or cross-examine each other.” This ignores the fact that the Supreme Court calls cross-examination the “greatest legal engine ever invented for the discovery of truth.” (See Lilly v. Virginia (1999).) In a handful of campus sexual assault cases, such as Donohue v. Baker (1997), judges have ruled that cross-examination was necessary in a college proceeding to test the credibility of the accuser.

Source: https://cei.org/blog/did-slanted-npr-story-lead-hasty-illegal-education-department-sexual-harassment-rules

Jan 262015

Hope Solo Suspended for 30 days by U.S. Soccer

Kevin Baxter
January 21, 2015

Goalkeeper Hope Solo has been suspended from the U.S. national soccer team for 30 days and sent home from the January training camp for disciplinary reasons less than five months before this summer’s women’s World Cup.

The penalties, announced Wednesday by U.S. Soccer, follow an incident in the early morning hours Monday when Solo’s husband, Jerramy Stevens, was arrested for driving under the influence near the soccer team’s Manhattan Beach hotel.

Colorado Rapids’ stadium to host this year’s MLS All-Star Game
Colorado Rapids’ stadium to host this year’s MLS All-Star Game
Solo, who was a passenger in the car, was not charged in the incident, which took place at 1:23 a.m. But U.S. Soccer officials felt Solo exercised poor judgment, both in staying out so late and in getting in the car with an impaired driver.

“Hope made a poor decision that has resulted in a negative impact on U.S. Soccer and her teammates,” Coach Jill Ellis said. “We feel at this time it is best for her to step away from the team.”

Solo’s suspension means she will not accompany the team to Europe for exhibition games against France and England in February. After that Ellis and other U.S. Soccer officials will meet and decide whether to reinstate Solo.

Solo released a statement on Twitter accepting the decision.

“I accept and respect the Federation’s decision, and more importantly, I apologize for disappointing my teammates, coaches and the Federation who have always supported me,” Solo said in the statement. “I think it’s best for me to take a break, decompress from the stress of the last several months, and come back mentally and physically ready to positively contribute to the team.”

The U.S. has three other goalkeepers in camp this winter. During last fall’s World Cup qualifying tournament, Ellis started Ashlyn Harris in Solo’s place against Haiti and Harris didn’t give up a goal. Veteran Nicole Barnhart, who did not appear in a national team game last year, started 20 matches in 2010-11 while Solo was recovering from shoulder surgery, going 14-3-3.

Monday’s incident occurred less than a week after domestic abuse charges against Solo were dismissed by a judge in Washington state. Solo was not sanctioned by U.S. Soccer in that case because she was not on assignment with the national team camp and the facts in the matter were in dispute.

Source: http://www.latimes.com/sports/sportsnow/la-sp-sn-hope-solo-suspended-us-soccer-20150121-story.html

Jan 262015

From Fake Rapes To Petty ‘Microaggressions,’ American Colleges Have Lost Their Way

Daniel Payne
January 26, 2015

For anyone still keeping up with the University of Virginia’s fraternity gang-rape fiasco, this month brought a bit of good news: the Charlottesville Police Department announced it could find no proof that the alleged gang rape had occurred at Phi Kappa Psi. UVA subsequently reinstated the fraternity after having shut it down a few months before.

This is small comfort to a debacle that has been both shameful and injudicious from start to finish. If there is anything good to be had from the entire mess, it is that a slapdash and irresponsible publication has been justly humiliated, and that an incompetent and malicious journalist has been perhaps permanently outcast from the good graces of the Fourth Estate. So far as I can tell, Sabrina Rubin Erdely has not been heard from publicly since last tweeting at the end of November. That is fine by me; indeed, if she finishes out her career as an obscure copy editor at a small-town bi-weekly, I do not think journalism as a whole will be worse off, even if the small-town bi-weekly suffers.

Yet the Rolling Stone fiasco is on the main depressing and discouraging, if for no other reason than it has starkly highlighted the fundamental hollowness of our institutions of higher learning, saturated as they have become by the often-toxic influence of academic leftism.

A Microcosm of U.S. Colleges’ Sick Culture
Indeed, UVA provided a perfect example of the moral bankruptcy one often finds at the average American college. In the wake of the Rolling Stone article, the university suspended Greek life on campus with no due process whatsoever; a University of Virginia law school student demanded that Phi Kappa Psi be treated as a “criminal street gang” subject to asset seizure by the government; the fraternity house was vandalized; and effectively the entire university lined up against a group of young men who had been viciously slandered in a national media outlet based on the strength of one uncorroborated and unexamined accusation. “The whole [fraternity] culture,” claimed UVA English professor Alison Booth, with no irony whatsoever, “is sick.”

From its administration to its faculty to its studentry, the University of Virginia displayed the aplomb of a sulky teenager unwilling to think critically about even the most basic of ethical considerations.
The University of Virginia, in other words, behaved shamefully and with no civic decorum: from its administration to its faculty to its studentry, the entire institution displayed the aplomb of a sulky teenager unwilling to think critically about even the most basic of ethical considerations. UVA’s president, Teresa Sullivan, should be apologizing profusely to the members of Phi Kappa Psi along with the whole fraternity community. Instead, she’s forcing fraternities to adopt pointless new rules on the basis of a single allegation that even the police now dispute.

Would that this kind of illiberal folly were limited simply to the University of Virginia: Thomas Jefferson would roll over in his grave, and that would be the end of it. But our country’s universities and colleges are steeped in this stuff. From coast to coast, the vanities of progressivism are having a profoundly negative effect on our institutions of higher learning.

Feminism Steps Up to Fill the Place of Eugenics
Unsurprisingly, much of this bankrupt ideology centers on feminism, which has filled the role that eugenics once filled in American universities: a crystalline instance of peak Progressive thought animated by bigotry and pseudoscience. Modern feminism drove much of the witch hunt on UVA’s campus, for instance, and it can be seen at plenty of other colleges, as well. Sarah Edwards, an assistant professor at the University of North Dakota, recently published a study that purported to show that one in three college men would rape a woman if the word “rape” wasn’t used and if they were told they could get away with it. The study itself cited flawed and disproven data in its opening paragraph, bad enough, but it also surveyed only 86 men at UND, a tiny sample whose results are assuredly not indicative of 30 percent of all men everywhere, or probably even 30 percent of men on UND’s campus. Nine of the young men claimed that, even with the word “rape” thrown in, they would still rape a woman; this may seem shocking until you consider the likely reality that, as Ashe Scow put it wryly, “nine college boys didn’t take the survey too seriously.”

A kind of frantic Progressive paranoia runs through much of academia, a certainty that the world is a brutal and inhumane place—for everyone, that is, except white men.
Pointing out the deficiencies of a highly suspect study, however, is not enough to repair the intellectual rot that permeates so much of our campuses these days. A kind of frantic Progressive paranoia runs through much of academia, a certainty that the world is a brutal and inhumane place—for everyone, that is, except white men. Earlier this month, Harvard’s “Voices of Diversity Project” published a study that claims to express the difficulties women and minorities face on college campuses across the country. A number of these experiences were stark examples of prejudice, yet many if not most of the researchers’ interpretations of these events are highly subjective, prominent among them “microaggressions.” These undetectable phantom slights, according to the researchers, force these students to “spend a great deal of time in internal dialogue” and “feeling apprehension and anguish” about bringing up the perceived microaggressions out of fear that “they will only be told that they are overly sensitive or even that they are imagining it.”

Leave aside for a moment the likely possibility that most microaggressions are imagined, and instead focus on the absurd suggestion that any American university is actually hostile in any way towards women or minorities. The only college explicitly named in the study—Missouri State University—has a politically correct diversity apparatus that takes every opportunity to heighten the standing and prestige of non-white, non-male university students: a Division for Diversity and Inclusion, a “theatre organization” called “Giving Voice” that aims to “represent the challenges of underrepresented, marginalized, and oppressed persons;” an outreach series called “Shattering the Silence” that has thus far addressed “microaggressions,” “diversity” and “cultural stereotypes;” and “Heritage Months,” special month-long celebrations that “[honor] the heritage and history of different groups” (during last October’s LGBT History Month, you could attend a seminar on “Homophobic Dilemmas of Pop Culture,” drop by an “LGBT Alliance/Spectrum Mixer,” and, to finish out the month, participate in the “Big Gay Talent Show”). There’s also an Office of Multicultural Services, an LGBT Resource Center, and—later this year—the Statewide Collaborative Diversity Conference.

To justify the increasingly useless liberal arts degrees that modern universities churn out, the leaders of these universities must fabricate a vicious and threatening world against which the university itself is arrayed.
No sane person could look at this panoply of ultra-left-leaning, hyper-tolerant offerings to Missouri State students and conclude that the university is hostile towards any group of people. When you also consider that the majority of modern American college students are among the most open-minded and culturally-sensitive human beings to have ever existed—young men and women that will go out of their way to avoid “microaggressions” and positively prostrate themselves to atone for them—then the Harvard study appears even more nonsensical and bizarre, and its unstated agenda becomes even starker: the point is not to shed light on a hostile campus climate, but to convince everyone that the hostile climate exists in the first place. Like the wreckers and the kulaks of the Soviet Union, “microaggressions” have become the scapegoat for a deeply flawed and wholly subpar way of doing things. To justify the increasingly useless liberal arts degrees that modern universities churn out, the leaders of these universities must fabricate a vicious and threatening world against which the university itself is arrayed: the point of higher education in these circles is less about education and more about Big Gay Talent Shows and a war against invisible insults.

Do Students Even Want to Think?
In defense of the college administrator, there is ample evidence that the modern university student is not capable, or even desirous, of what Steinbeck called “the freedom of the mind to take any direction it wishes, undirected.” The average college student appears to be genuinely fearful of the world and eager to exert a suffocating kind of control over it. At the University of Chicago last week, the Maroon student newspaper ran an editorial with the headline “Land of the Free?” The implicit subhead might have read: “We can fix that.” The Maroon’s editorial board, you see, does not like free speech: it wishes the University of Chicago would regulate speech that “offends” and “insults” people.

The average college student appears to be genuinely fearful of the world and eager to exert a suffocating kind of control over it.
“Vile” and “cruel” speech, according to the frightened crack team at the helm of the Maroon, should be suppressed for the sake of “students’ mental well-being or safety.” Since the editorial board of the Maroon is a direct threat to both of those things, it’s a wonder the editors don’t self-censor and shut down the newspaper altogether. Jokes aside, it is worth reflecting on and savoring the naked insanity of this call for suppression. The privileged, moneyed elect of one of the most elite universities in the country is admittedly, openly afraid of insults and offense, so much so that they wish for the powers that be to regulate them out of existence. The men and women of the Maroon are simply cowards, first for desiring open censorship of words they dislike and second for being too timorous to admit their cowardice outright. As the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education points out, the Maroon board is not alone: speech is heavily regulated at most U.S. colleges.

These are our universities and colleges; this is what they do. With a professorship drifting ever-leftward, we should not be surprised. From the feminist witch-hunts at UVA to the frank misandry of UND, from the microaggression scares taking place with no sense of awareness alongside a liberal diversity mega-complex, to an unequivocal call for censorship at one of the top institutions in the nation—these are clear snapshots of the state of American higher education in the twenty-first century.

Education is meant for what the Vatican once termed ‘the formation of the human person in the pursuit of his ultimate end.’
To turn these and many other colleges around will require a conscious effort on the part of faculty and students, taxpayers and donors, administrations and boards. Education is meant for what the Vatican once termed “the formation of the human person in the pursuit of his ultimate end.” The fear, the sociological gibberish and the amateur despotism of many of our institutions of higher learning are working towards no such noble goal, and indeed seem to be working in direct contravention of it. It will not be easy to reverse this trend—but if we don’t, we’ll be left with college campuses that foster and encourage lynch mobs and thought police in place of actual education. Why would we want to send our young men and women to such dreadful and hateful places?

Source: http://thefederalist.com/2015/01/26/from-fake-rapes-to-petty-microaggressions-american-colleges-have-lost-their-way/

Jan 262015

January 26, 2015
Contact: Sherry Seefeld, President
Email: facecampusequality@gmail.com
Phone: 701.491.8554

FACE Condemns Senator Kirsten Gillibrand for Honoring Emma Sulkowicz at State of the Union

Families Advocating for Campus Equality (FACE), a not for profit organization that advocates for fairness for any student accused of sexual misconduct on campus, condemns Senator Kristin Gillibrand’s for inviting and honoring at the State of the Union on January 21, 2015 Ms. Emma Sulkowicz, a Columbia University student whose allegations of rape by a fellow student were proven to be unfounded.

Sen. Gillibrand’s honor to Ms. Sulkowicz is undeserved and violates the principles of confidentiality and gender equality of Title IX, the law that oversees sexual misconduct on campus. Ms. Sulkowicz failed to establish any wrongdoing by the student she accused after a tribunal, and an appeal at Columbia, as well as an investigation by the New York Police Department.

In response, Ms. Sulkowicz carries a mattress around Columbia everyday as part of a campaign to pressure Columbia to expel the student unless he leaves on his own under duress. In the process, she has violated Title IX’s confidentiality and retaliation rules in exposing the student’s name and harassing him daily to leave school.

While FACE acknowledges that there is plenty of room to critique and correct problems with Title IX and its tribunals, a civil society at a minimum has to abide by its standards and decisions. Ms. Sulkowicz’s personal vendetta treads on the rights of the student she accused.

Sen. Gillibrand’s choice to honor Ms. Sulkowicz is offensive to basic fairness, and the rights of any student, male or female, who has faced accusations of sexual misconduct, participated in a Title IX tribunal and prevailed. That student is as a matter of law innocent, and has the right to stay on campus and complete his education in peace.

Source: https://sites.google.com/site/facecampusequality/press-releases

Jan 232015

The Media Is Making College Rape Culture Worse

Christina Hoff Sommers
January 23, 2015

The frenzy over college sexual assault now sweeping the nation was triggered by a specific event.

In 2010, a small team of investigative journalists published a report revealing, so they claimed, an epidemic of college rape. The report was a jumble of highly selective reporting and dubious statistics, as we shall see. But the reporters spread the news far and wide and no one thought to question their accuracy.

Federal officials were electrified by the findings and launched a draconian crusade. The term “rape culture,” previously limited to gender theory seminars, slowly found its way into the national lexicon.

Before long, otherwise sensible people came to believe that Yale, Swarthmore, and the University of Michigan were among the most dangerous places on earth for young women. Dozens of falsely accused young men were subjected to kangaroo court proceedings and expelled from college. By 2014, the panic produced outbursts of fanaticism—a young woman carried a mattress around Columbia in an attempt to expel a classmate who was found not responsible for sexually assaulting her.

Students demanded trigger warnings in classes at Harvard Law School. An angry mob vandalized the house of a falsely accused University of Virginia fraternity.

And it all began in 2010.That year, reporters at National Public Radio teamed up with the left-leaning journalism organization Center for Public Integrity (CPI) to produce and promote a 104-page “investigative reporting series” entitled “Sexual Assault on Campus: A Frustrating Search for Justice.” (PDF)
The executive director of CPI, Bill Buzenberg, summed up the plight of millions of young women on campus in a single word: “Nightmare.” According to the report, serial predators are roaming free on college campuses. The occasional victim who finds the courage to report her attack is unlikely to secure justice. More often than not, she will be “re-victimized” by invasive, humiliating, and futile proceedings.

Should she turn to the Office for Civil Rights, the federal agency responsible for monitoring the Title IX equity law, she is likely to be thwarted once again. The report depicts the OCR as a lazy, feckless watchdog that “leaves students at risk.” Exhibit A is the story of Laura Dunn.

On the evening of April 4, 2004, according to the NPR/CPI version of events, Dunn, then a freshman and member of the crew team at the University of Wisconsin, consumed so many raspberry vodkas at a crew party that the student-bartenders refused her more drinks. She left with two young men she trusted from her team. They planned to go to another party, but decided to make a quick stop at one of the men’s apartment. According to Dunn, once they arrived, her teammates raped her as she fell in and out of consciousness. For many months, she tried to dismiss the evening as a “just a mistake.” Still, she couldn’t sleep, she lost weight, she dropped out of crew.

Panicbreedschaos and mob justice. It claims innocent victims, undermines social trust, and distracts attention from genuine cases of abuse.
Fifteen months later, Dunn attended a philosophy class where the professor was discussing how rape is weapon of war. The professor suddenly stopped the lecture, turned to the students, and told them she knew many of her students had been raped, and she assured them they could do something about it. A tearful Laura Dunn told NPR’s Joseph Shapiro what happened next. “The moment that lecture let out,” she said, “I walked across to the dean of students’ office and I reported that day.” She also reported the alleged rape to the campus police.

The investigation did not go well for Dunn. Because she reported the assault nearly a year-and-a-half after the event, one of the men had already graduated. The other insisted the encounter had been consensual, and since there were no witnesses or evidence, both the police and the university dropped the case.

Dunn felt betrayed. Not only did her attackers go unpunished, the university failed to protect her from retaliation for filing the charge. According to Dunn, while the case was under investigation, she ran into the remaining attacker at a fraternity party, who frightened her with a violent outburst and a warning: “My parents are Harvard attorneys. You won’t win.”

Determined to fight an egregious injustice, she filed a Title IX sexual discrimination complaint with the Office for Civil Rights. Dunn accused the University of Wisconsin of multiple violations, including subjecting her to a hostile environment and failing to provide a “prompt and equitable resolution” of her case.

But in 2008, four years after the original incident, she received an 18-page letter (PDF) from the Department of Education with the verdict: “Based on its investigation OCR determined that there is insufficient evidence to substantiate the allegations made in the complaint.”

Dunn was stunned to find the OCR siding with the university. “The message they are sending victims,” she told the NPR/CPI team, “is that sexual assault is not something they take seriously.”

The NPR/CPI report created a sensation. There had been news stories about campus rape before, but never by such a distinguished team of investigators. The findings were widely and uncritically reported and won multiple journalism prizes, including a Peabody Award (known as the Pulitzer Prize for radio), as well as the Robert F. Kennedy Award for Justice and Human Rights Reporting and the Dart Award for Excellence in Coverage of Trauma. But the greatest triumph was described by Laura Dunn on her website: “The most important result of all this was that the U.S. Department of Education paid attention.”

Russlynn Ali, a little-known Education Department official, was galvanized by the NPR/CPI findings. And she was singularly situated to act. As the newly appointed assistant secretary for civil rights and head of the OCR, she was in charge of enforcing Title IX. When the NPR/CPI team presented her with the Dunn case and other findings, Ali promised action: “We will use all of the tools at our disposal including… withholding federal funds… to ensure that women are free from sexual violence.”

Secretary Ali made good on her word. On April 4, 2011, she sent her now-famous Dear Colleague letter to colleges across the nation providing detailed guidelines on the draconian steps colleges should take fight what she called a “plague” of sexual violence. Ali’s letter advised schools to determine guilt by the lowest standard—a preponderance of evidence. And it instructed them to take measures to minimize the burdens on complainants, but didn’t say a word about the rights of the accused.

Ali’s Dear Colleague Letter was announced at a special ceremony in Durham, New Hampshire. Both Vice-President Joe Biden and Education Secretary Arne Duncan were present. So was Laura Dunn, who had been invited as a VIP guest of Biden. The date of the Dear Colleague letter had a special significance. April 4 is the anniversary of Ms. Dunn’s alleged assault in 2004. As she would tell the Christian Science Monitor, “It was my justice.”

The Dear Colleague letter created havoc, but before describing that havoc, let’s check some facts. Dunn agreed to make her records public as a condition of being a part of the NPR/CPI investigation. The 18-page letter (PDF) she received from the OCR is publicly available. It gives a detailed summary of notes taken by University of Wisconsin deans as well as the local police detective. As freelance reporter Derek Rose has pointed out, it tells a very different story from the one we heard from Joseph Shapiro on NPR’s Morning Edition or from the CPI report.

To wit: When Dunn first spoke to the dean (15 months after the alleged rape), she said that “a portion of the sexual encounter was consensual.” (p.5) A few days later when she spoke to a campus police detective, Dunn said twice that she did not remember being raped by one of the men (the one still on campus). She found out about it only when the men told her what happened the next day (p.6). She also told the detective that in the months after the alleged rape that she went—twice—to one of the men’s residence, where they engaged in consensual “physical contact.”

On one of these occasions both of the alleged assailants were at the apartment and they all watched television together. (p.6) None of these details were mentioned in the NPR/CPI report.

The anomalies continue. The NPR/CPI team fault the University of Wisconsin staff for dragging the case out for nine months—enough time for an “enraged encounter” (as related above) between the accuser and one of the accused men. According to the CPI team, when Dunn ran into the young man at a fraternity party, he stalked and threatened her. But Dunn told the police detective that she had initiated the encounter and when he walked away, she followed him into another room because she “knew he wanted to talk to her.” She also admitted she had hugged him. No mention of threats. (p. 7).

The young man’s version comports with the police report, but he adds that when Dunn approached him, he was alarmed, pulled away, and told her he was afraid she would fabricate more lies. When Dunn started to scream and cry, he fled. (p.8)

The NPR/CPI report gives the impression that the university violated federal law by taking nine months to resolve Dunn’s complaint. But according to the OCR letter, Dunn herself delayed the process by insisting the official assigned to review her case be replaced. Dunn found her to be too “adversarial and accusing.” Not only that, she was Hispanic. As Dunn explained to University officials, her own mother was Hispanic, and she was experiencing “transference of tensions.” The Hispanic official recused herself and a new investigator took over. (p.10)

These details do not prove that Dunn’s teammates did not assault her. And it is possible the deans and investigators at her university failed her in some way. But the case is far murkier than the NPR/CPI team let on. Anyone listening to NPR’s Morning Edition on February 24, 2010 not only heard the sanitized version of the Dunn case, they also heard a “chilling” statistic: “A study funded by the U.S. Department of Justice estimates that 1 out of 5 college women will be sexually assaulted.”

This comes from the 2007 Campus Sexual Assault Study (PDF), commissioned by the National Institute of Justice. But as critics have noted, it was based on an online survey, with a low response rate, vaguely worded questions, and a non-representative sample of college women.

The best study available at the time of the NPR/CPI report was the Bureau of Justice Statistics’ 2003 Violent Victimization of College Students (PDF) report, which shows that approximately one in 40 college women is a victim of rape or sexual assault over the course of four years (assault includes verbal threats as well as unwanted sexual grabbing and fondling). More recent BJS data suggest the figure to be 1 in 53—far too many, but a long way from one in five. And, according to the BJS, 80 percent of these victims never report the crime.

That is a genuine problem we need to address. Instead, NPR and CPI diverted attention to a phantom rape epidemic encompassing 20 percent of female college students.

The NPR/CPI team not only exaggerated the number of victims, it promoted the idea that any male undergraduate implicated in a campus sexual assault is likely to be an incorrigible repeat offender. On March 4, 2010, a little more than a week after the initial report on Laura Dunn’s case, NPR’s Morning Edition ran a segment entitled Myths that Make It Hard to Stop College Rape. Steve Inskeep and Joseph Shapiro told listeners about new research that “may cause people to rethink what they believe about sexual assault on college campuses.”

They were referring to the work of David Lisak and a co-author—who concluded that college officials are dangerously wrong when they assume that young men deemed guilty of sexual assault by a campus disciplinary committee are decent young men who made a mistake because of too much alcohol or miscommunication.

These are not individuals who need some counseling, stern warnings, or temporary probation, Lisak warned. “These are predators,” he said on NPR. For a 2002 study (PDF) on campus rapists, Lisak analyzed questionnaires distributed to male passersby in a busy pedestrian area at the UMass-Boston campus. Those who returned them—1,882 over a period of seven years— were paid $3 or $4.

One hundred and twenty—or 1 in 16—admitted to committing acts that met the legal definition of rape or attempted rape. More than half of this group admitted to raping more than once and also confessed to crimes such as choking an intimate partner, deliberately burning a child, or forcing a child to perform oral sex.

In her excellent critique of Lisak’s study, Slate’s Emily Yoffe points out that the participants were hardly typical. Most college students are age 18 to 24. Lisak’s subjects were 18 to 71. UMass Boston is an urban commuter school with no campus housing and a four-year graduation rate of 15 percent. Lisak admitted to Yoffe that his study probably needed to be replicated on a more traditional campus.

I taught philosophy at UMass Boston in the early 1980s. Things may be different today, but at that time most of my students were adults with full-time jobs, and more than a few had been in jail.

Their crimes, however, were more in the direction of bar fights and stealing cars—not sociopathic predation. Because Lisak’s results are based on a non-random, self-selected sample of students, we cannot be sure of their relevance —even to UMass Boston.

I contacted two of the lead reporters, Kristen Lombardi (CPI) and Joseph Shapiro (NPR), to hear their side of the story. I first asked Lombardi why her report so confidently asserts the much-disputed one-in-five sexual assault number. She agreed the figure was controversial, but she said it was not critical to the report. She recalled it coming up only once—and that was in the introduction, written by someone who did not do the reporting. In fact the statistic appears five times in the report and is used strategically to establish the urgency and scope of the campus assault crisis.

When I inquired about the report’s account of the Dunn case, she assured me it had been thoroughly fact-checked. But shouldn’t readers have known about the complications—such as Dunn’s further sexual and social encounters with her alleged rapists? Lombardi seemed to be unfamiliar with the contents of the OCR letter, and explained that she had not written that part of the report. She suggested I call her colleague Kristin Jones—the author of the section on Laura Dunn.

Jones had read the OCR letter, but she didn’t think Dunn’s subsequent consensual encounters with her alleged attackers were worth mentioning.

She had heard from “people who are experts” that victims are often in shock and they sometimes try to feign normalcy by continuing to socialize with their attackers. She could not recall any names of the experts, but in a follow-up email, she suggested I contact David Lisak. I did, but so far he has not replied to my queries.

I also attempted to speak with Joseph Shapiro at NPR but he declined in a polite email: “Our policy is to let the stories speak for themselves.”

NPR and the Center for Public Integrity are well-respected news organizations. They were alerting Secretary Ali to a catastrophe: Millions of women were sexually assaulted by ruthless criminals, and both college officials and the Office for Civil Rights were frustrating their quest for justice.

The secretary was already planning to make changes in OCR protocols for campus assault cases. But once these reporters presented her with their nightmare scenario, nothing short of drastic action would do. As Kristen Lombardi would later tell a reporter, “Since the Center for Public Integrity series ran, OCR is much more aggressive.”

The aggression came in the form of Ali’s Dear Colleague letter of April 4, 2011, which created a national sensation. Colleges rushed to meet the new requirements. They revamped their disciplinary committees and hired Title IX officers to run programs with Orwellian sounding names like the Office for Sexual and Gender-Based Dispute Resolution. Political leaders, including President Obama, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, and Sen. Claire McCaskill propagated the one-in-five statistic and demanded action. Soon a dizzying number of sexual assault task forces, listening sessions, tool kits, commission reports, and laws materialized.

Journalists such as Vox’s Ezra Klein joined the frenzy. Mesmerized by the one in five statistic, Klein defended harsh campus policies that he acknowledged would punish the innocent. Men, he said, “need to feel the cold spike of fear when they begin a sexual encounter.” Jonathan Chait spoke for civil libertarians everywhere when he questioned Klein’s endorsement of false convictions as a strategy: “This is a conception of justice totally removed from the liberal tradition.”

By 2014, OCR was investigating 90 colleges for possible Title IX violations in their handling of sexual assault complaints. Campuses were in full panic mode—with calls for censorship and trigger warnings for sensitive material. At last count, 56 young men found responsible for sexual misconduct were suing their schools, alleging that they were denied due process and fair treatment in star chamber proceedings.

When Rolling Stone published its apocryphal article about a sadistic and premeditated fraternity gang rape at the University of Virginia, many who should have known better took it seriously. It was a Gothic fantasy nurtured by specious statistics, poorly designed studies, and panic. The writers and editors at Rolling Stone are to blame for publishing the story. But it was the investigative journalists at NPR and the Center for Public Integrity who made it all seem real.

“Let me say this respectfully and with as much clarity as I can: you do not know my work.” Those are the words of an anonymous student affairs officer in an open letter published by Inside Higher Ed soon after he received the Dear Colleague letter. The frustrated official is addressing both Secretary Ali and the NPR/CPI journalists who inspired her. He and his colleagues have to cope with ambiguous “she said/he said” cases like Laura Dunn’s every day. The cases he manages, said the official, are “enormously complex, full of truths, lies, reversals, angry parents, hungry lawyers, and empowered supporters.”

Before Ali’s Dear Colleague letter, clearly criminal cases were typically turned over to the police. Campus officials are not detectives. They cannot adjudicate felony rapes any more than they can murder cases. But for confusing, volatile, evidence-free cases like Dunn’s, the old system allowed school officials to deploy their skills as educators or counselors—they might send the young men for alcohol counseling, or put them on social probation.

The Dear Colleague letter tacitly assumes the truth of Lisak’s predator theory. So it rules discretion out of order and mandates strict legal procedures and harsh punishments. The Inside Higher Ed author says he wrote anonymously because, in the current environment, to protest the new rules publicly invites charges of being “soft on sexual assault” by the media and by victims’ rights groups. It could also provoke an investigation by the OCR. The writer protests that the voices of reasonable and experienced professionals have been left out of the debate.

But Laura Dunn’s voice is fully present. Not only was she Biden’s honored guest at the April 4, 2011 event releasing the Dear Colleague letter, she would later serve on a White House Task Force on Sexual Assault and be recognized for her advocacy on the U.S. Senate floor. In April of 2013, Dunn and Lombardi were guests on Diane Rehm show.

When asked about her assault, Dunn changed her story yet again. The 15-month delay had become “about half a year.” Her sudden realization that she had been a raped no longer took place in a class with a feminist professor talking about rape as a weapon of war, but rather in an “amazing educational program on campus that talked about alcohol-facilitated sexual assault.”

Dunn now runs SurvJustice, an advocacy group for rape survivors. She was one of the experts cited in the Rolling Stone UVA rape story. After the tale unraveled and Rolling Stone issued an apology, Dunn defended the original story and denounced doubters as “rape denialists.”

The journalists at NPR and CPI painted a false picture of campus life. That picture inspired Ali to take aggressive action, which created havoc in the media, at the White House and in Congress, and on campuses across America. In the current environment, anyone critical of the new sexual assault policies risks being denounced as a sexual assault enabler. Large numbers of professors, deans, and college presidents are privately dismayed by the OCR zealotry—but most have run for cover.

An honorable exception exists in the 28 Harvard Law School professors who issued a statement on October 15 challenging the moral and legal foundations of the OCR policies.

They noted that in a free and democratic society the goal is not to do everything possible to eliminate all traces of what can be characterized as sexual abuse. The goal must be to address sexual abuse while at the same time respecting the rights of the accused as well as the privacy and autonomy of romantic relationships.

One of the signatories, Elizabeth Bartholet, an expert on civil rights and family law as well as a feminist, made a powerful “have-you-no-shame Senator” observation: “I believe that history will demonstrate the federal government’s position to be wrong, that our society will look back on this time as a moment of madness.”

Rape crisis activists believe this madness serves a worthy purpose: It dramatizes a real problem. Whatever the numbers, far too many women are being harmed. As Ezra Klein says, “Ugly problems don’t always have pretty solutions.”But this is exactly wrong. We know from objective research, and some of us know from experience, that sexual assault, although not epidemic, is a serious problem on campus, and victims too often suffer in silence.

But hysteria over a rape culture sheds no light and produces no solutions. Panic breeds chaos and mob justice. It claims innocent victims, undermines social trust, and distracts attention from genuine cases of abuse.

“Pity, wrath, heroism, filled them, but the power of putting two and two together was annihilated.” These words are from E.M. Forster’s 1924 novel A Passage to India. He is describing the panic among “good citizens” following a highly dubious rape accusation. But he could have been talking about the current hysteria over the campus “rape culture.” The frenzy will die down when the stories of the falsely accused become too much for the public to bear.

Eventually the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, the President, Senators Gillibrand and McCaskill, and even the Ezra Kleins of this world will recover the ability to add two plus two. But our detour into madness might never have happened had those investigative journalists at NPR and the Center for Public Integrity resisted their “nightmare” narrative and just reported the truth.

Source: http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2015/01/23/the-media-is-making-college-rape-culture-worse.html

Jan 232015

Man Found Not Responsible for Rape Blasts Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand for ‘Harassment Campaign’

Ashe Schow
January 21, 2015

Paul Nungesser was found “not responsible” for sexually assaulting another student at Columbia University. The student who accused him, Emma Sulkowicz, has since began carrying a mattress around the university as part of an art project to protest a finding she claims was unfair.

Sulkowicz’s activism earned her an invitation to President Obama’s State of the Union address Tuesday night from Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y. When Nungesser heard of the invitation, he blasted the senator for rewarding Sulkowicz’s attacks against him.

“I am shocked to learn that Sen. Gillibrand is actively supporting Ms. Sulkowicz’s defamation campaign against me by providing her with a public forum in which to broadcast her grave allegation,” Nungesser told New York Magazine on Tuesday. “By doing so, Sen. Gillibrand is participating in a harassment campaign against someone, who, for good reason, has been found innocent by all investigating bodies.”

The proposed law would discount “silence” or “lack of resistance” as consent in sexual encounters.

Nungesser reminded people that the university, after a seven-month long investigation, found him not responsible in 2013 — even in the current atmosphere where colleges are encouraged to find students guilty to appease political interests. Nungesser also pointed out that he cooperated with police after Sulkowicz filed a report (after the university found him not responsible) and that prosecutors declined to pursue the case.

Source: http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/man-found-not-responsible-for-rape-blasts-sen.-kirsten-gillibrand-for-harassment-campaign/article/2559037

Jan 222015

Shame on Gillibrand

Apart from Claire McCaskill, no senator has more aggressively advocated weakening due process protections for students accused of sexual assault than New York senator Kirsten Gillibrand. She continued her anti-due process crusade in two high-profile moves this week.

First, Gillibrand invited Columbia student Emma Sulkowicz as her special guest for the State of the Union address. Sulkowicz has attracted international media attention for her “performance art” project of carrying a mattress around campus to protest what she considers Columbia’s insufficient response to a student she claims sexually assaulted her. No evidence exists that the student did, in fact, sexually assault her: even under Columbia’s extraordinarily imbalanced sexual assault policy, which tilts nearly all procedures in the advantage of the accusing student, the disciplinary panel didn’t find Sulkowicz’s allegation credible. Why Gillibrand came to believe Sulkowicz remains unclear.

It’s also unclear what message Gillibrand intended to send in selecting Sulkowicz, whose approach to criminal justice issues appears to be precisely what members of Congress should not encourage. Sulkowicz found the time to speak about her experiences with MTV, the Guardian, a local TV station, and several other media sources—but she wasn’t able to spare the time to follow through with the police about her complaint. (Or at least so she implied—the student she accused has suggested that actually the police looked into the matter and elected not to continue with the investigation, something that Sulkowicz never had previously admitted). It would seem that a senator would want to encourage actual crime victims to speak with police instead of the media, rather than the reverse. A cynic might suggest that the New York senator, like Sulkowicz, is more interested in public relations than in securing justice.

Even more troubling, however, was a Huffington Post essay penned by Gillibrand to accompany her invitation. The New York senator explained that she reached out to Sulkowicz to show solidarity with a student who “carries her mattress everywhere she goes to symbolize the burden she carries every single day as long as her rapist is still on campus.” Note the senator’s remarkable word choice. Gillibrand didn’t say “as long as her alleged rapist is still on campus.” Or “as long as the person she says raped her is still on campus.” No: Gillibrand, a sitting U.S. senator, has described a Columbia student as a “rapist”—that is, someone guilty of a criminal act—based solely on an allegation from a single person. And not merely a generic type of allegation, but one that even Columbia didn’t deem credible and the police did not pursue. As FIRE’s Ari Cohn has pointed out, with this statement Gillibrand laid “bare her disregard for rights of the accused.” For the senator, “allegations of rape = guilty of rape.”

Imagine the reaction of the Times editorial page if a New York senator on virtually any other criminal justice issue described as guilty of a criminal act a resident of the state who (a) hadn’t even been criminally charged and (b) had been deemed non-culpable of any criminal activity by an internal inquiry. Doubtless we’d encounter a (not inappropriate) history lesson on the importance of due process and the presumption of innocence to the American project, and a denunciation of the senator as ill-informed at best and a demagogue at worst. Yet on this matter, the Times (both in the editorial and on the news side) has ignored Gillibrand’s comments.

I suppose that, at the least, Gillibrand deserves praise for her candor. But the idea that someone making laws for all of us could actually believe that a person can be guilty solely on the basis of an accusation is a chilling thought.

Source: http://www.mindingthecampus.com/2015/01/shame-on-gillibrand/#more-12684