Rape on campus often treated as ‘special’ case

College students are afforded special exception in the criminal justice system. They rarely participate in it at all. Most schools, including Yale, have alternative systems to investigate and discipline crimes committed by students. These systems are useful in disciplining non-criminal offenses, like plagiarism, that aren’t illegal. The same system becomes less effective when it investigates offenses, like rape, that normally receive harsh punishment in the criminal justice system.

According to the Executive Committee’s recent end-of-year reports, sexual assault typically engenders punishment ranging from “reprimand” and “probation” to a three-semester suspension — a far cry from life in prison, a real, albeit unlikely, possibility if the perpetrators had been punished by a criminal justice system. Survivors of rape, on the other hand, face the same repercussions whether they are college students or not. Shouldn’t student perpetrators face the same consequences in college as they would outside the university too?

The answer is complicated by the fact that organizations like ExComm are established on the basis of protecting all students, victims and perpetrators alike. In contrast to the criminal justice system, ExComm records are confidential, which is a major encouraging factor in students’ decisions to report rape.

But systems like ExComm also protect the University. It protects the University from critique because students cannot speak about the process or instances of injustice, bound to confidentiality as they are. It protects the University from being forced under public pressure to adequately discipline perpetrators and from acknowledging the overwhelming severity of sexual assault on campus.

Most rapes, if they are reported and disciplined at all, will likely go through the Grievance Board or ExComm.

The opacity of these processes prevents students from knowing the true prevalence and character of rape on campus.

For instance, a month ago, an anonymous commenter on the News’ Web site accused me of inflating Yale’s estimated rape statistics to further personal interests. I applied a commonly-cited, Department of Justice-approved percentage to the Yale population. The commenter argued, “Yale ain’t America. You have a population with an overrepresentation of smart, polite, future-conscious folks …” While it may be true that rape happens less at Yale because we are all so “smart, polite [and] future-conscious,” in many circles, an allegation of rape is considered worse than rape itself. This is an impossible debate to settle.

If students at Yale are truly as they are described, then they should own up to the fact that rape is punished much less harshly at Yale than it is outside University jurisdiction. They should understand that rape is rape, and rape is wrong, no matter how nonexistent or lenient the punishment may be. Most importantly, they should understand that the real consequence of rape isn’t suspension or jail time. It’s the massive and never-ending ordeal — psychological, physical and emotional — that victims must endure. This is an ordeal that is magnified in cultures like that at Yale where rape is taboo. Men who are accused of rape face similarly unfair assumptions; in reality, rape is often neither premeditated nor intended.

The cultural stigma that surrounds rape victims is harsh enough to preclude rational people from falsely alleging rape. As for women who are accused of “overreacting” or “asking for it,” who cares? If a woman believes she has been raped, that is horrible, regardless of her character or what other people think about the situation. And if a man is accused of rape, that is also horrible for him to have to deal with. Rape does not benefit anyone.

At Yale, we are largely unaware about rape because few rape cases go beyond the University’s confidential judicial system. While this confidentiality is important, it masks the severity of the issue.

Tonight, at 7 p.m. in LC 101, you have the opportunity to hear a real case involving Todd and Amy, two students at a peer institution. This is an extraordinary case, not because of what actually happened (as it happens every weekend), but because it was pursued outside of the university judicial system. An attorney involved in the case will present all the facts and then ask the audience whether it was rape or just drunk sex. It’s a hard case with which to grapple, and you, the jury, will likely be split. Challenge your preconceived notions about rape and your assumptions about men and women, and consider the facts. You owe it to yourself and to your peers to do so.

Stacey Fitzgerald is a junior in Davenport College. She is the co-coordinator of rape and sexual violence prevention at the Yale Women’s Center.

Comments

  • CKM

    See also Heather Mac Donald on "The Campus Rape Myth"

    http://www.city-journal.org/2008/18_1_campus_rape.html

  • Anonymous

    @#1 Pity that Mac Donald's lack of empathy for rape victims (even the few she acknowledges) taints an otherwise reasonable call for updated studies.

    This oped, on the other hand, is a refreshing move away from statistics that are divisive and unverifiable.

  • Hieronymus

    Coupla-few points:

    First off: I am deeply flattered to be quoted: "The [anonymous] commenter argued, 'Yale ain’t America. You have a population with an overrepresentation of smart, polite, future-conscious folks …'" Reminds me that you folks take this stuff…seriously.

    BTW: I am not <b>exactly</b> "anonymous"; I comment fairly exclusively under the moniker "Hieronymus," a secondary play on my OTHER persona, Anonymous Bosh (you can read my banalities at http://www.anonymous-bosh.blogspot.com&#41;.

    "Identity" and "anonymity" are under redefinition in the age of the internet…

    Other observations:

    "Most [reported] rapes will likely go through the Grievance Board or ExComm [which] prevents students from knowing the true prevalence and character of rape on campus."

    Oh, I disagree: how, then, do you explain the OVERWHELMING media response to actual rape charges? I think I have cited some major cases in the past, at both H & Y, that swept even non-campus media. The notoriety of those cases, IMO, highlights the very RARITY of actual, on-campus incidents. I have also pointed out that the national statistics get skewed (misapplied or downright fabricated) such that such items as "ogling" can get rolled up with "sexual harrassment" which then gets rolled up to "rape."

    Rape is a horrible crime--no need to undermine its seriousness by overinflating its prevalence.

    "While it may be true that rape happens less at Yale because we are all so “smart, polite [and] future-conscious,” in many circles, an allegation of rape is considered worse than rape itself. This is an impossible debate to settle."

    No, among rational people it is certainly NOT "impossible to settle." And, given that, in your world "the personal is political," yes, you are furthering a personal agenda in your continued misunderstanding and misapplication of statistics (have I yet suggested Stats 101?).

    "If students at Yale are truly as they are described, then they should own up to the fact that rape is punished much less harshly at Yale than it is outside University jurisdiction."

    Umm… wouldn't an actual rape be, indeed, "outside university jurisdiction?" Citing again actual cases--a victim is free (and, one might argue, OBLIGATED) to pursue his or her rights under the law via the criminal courts. Are you suggesting that Yale's authority trumps CT state law?

    "They should understand that rape is rape, and rape is wrong, no matter how nonexistent or lenient the punishment may be."

    Wow! To quote "Joe Versus the Volcano," I have no response to that."

    "Most importantly, they should understand that the real consequence of rape isn’t suspension or jail time. It’s the massive and never-ending ordeal — psychological, physical and emotional — that victims must endure."

    Weird sequence: victims generally do not suffer suspension or jailtime; however, the second half of your statement is likely accurate, although not necessarily applicable to ALL victims--it is not universally "neverending" (and I do not seek here to diminish the effects on some of this crime, merely to be clear).

    "This is an ordeal that is magnified in cultures like that at Yale where rape is taboo. Men who are accused of rape face similarly unfair assumptions; in reality, rape is often neither premeditated nor intended."

    Wow! Smooth segue from implying that "men might, from time to time, stand falsely accused" to "rapists don't always mean to rape." Interesting rhetorical technique.

    "The cultural stigma that surrounds rape victims is harsh enough to preclude rational people from falsely alleging rape."

    True enough--but your statement ignores IRRATIONAL people (The Mangum case at Duke U., anyone?)

    As for women who are accused of “overreacting” or “asking for it,” who cares?

    Oi! Can you give me some EXAMPLES of that please? I do not believe that rational, public ppl actually make such claims. I would LOVE to see some attorney make that defense in court (an not, as you may try to claim, "equivalent" claims).

    "If a woman believes she has been raped, that is horrible, regardless of her character or what other people think about the situation."

    I cite again the Duke case, one of the outcomes of which was some suspicion that the completely discredited "victim," due to her possible drug/alcohol abuse and mental instability, "believed" her own claims--should the Duke three have gone to prison due to someone elses provably false "beliefs?"

    "And if a man is accused of rape, that is also horrible for him to have to deal with. Rape does not benefit anyone."

    Once again you seem to suggest that there is no such thing as false charges (an assertion that is provably false). Yes, it would seem self-evident that rape (or any crime) does not benefit anyone, but nor do false charges of rape (or any crime).

    I did not mean a full-on diatribe; here comes the only REAL point I meant to discuss:

    Tonight, at 7 p.m. in LC 101, you have the opportunity to hear a real case involving Todd and Amy, two students at a peer institution. This is an extraordinary case, not because of what actually happened (AS IT HAPPENS EVERY WEEKEND), but because it was pursued outside of the university judicial system.

    AS IT HAPPENS EVERY WEEKEND?

    Prove it! Prove that this happens every weekend at Yale--a monstrous, unfair, and insidious claim. Any rational human would be ashamed to make such a claim (on several levels, already discussed); I have no doubt that you are not.

    The semi-autonomous, not-quite anonymus, brother of Hieronymus Bosch.

  • RealityCheck

    In this essay there is this underlying assumption that Yale or ExComm is somehow a substitute for the criminal justice system. I don't think Yale wants that responsibility nor is it capable of being an adequate substitute. Likewise, I wouldn't want any victim to think their rights and obligation to pursue a crime through the judicial system was somehow suspended because they attend Yale. I would hope that Yale provides support to a victim, (and presumably the accused until the matter has been adjudicated). However, Yale cannot mete out sufficient punishments necessary for serious crimes, and it would be folly for anyone to think that they have such power or responsibility to do so. Yale's role in a crime is to assess the impact of the crime on the Yale community--it is small potatoes when compared to role and obligation of government to insure public safety and punish the guilty. Our contract for a civil society is with our government and with each other, not with Yale. I would hope that the university's role is secondary and in fact superfluous to that of the criminal justice system in the matter of a felony crime. The justice system we have here is deeply flawed, but it is one of the pillars of a free democracy; we should not look to subvert it by giving up rights (or pinning false responsibilities) to a committee of non-professionals who do not have any obligations to the public weal nor operate within the confines of the state or federal judicial systems.

  • Anonymous

    As noted by "RealityCheck" the ExComm is not a substitute for the state's criminal justice system. This article implies that the ExComm is able to provide some sort of immunity or shield from that system… simply false, of course.

    Indeed, the procedures of the ExComm (on which I have served) are designed to take into account that parallel or subsequent legal actions may be involved and that the rights of all participants are carefully protected.

    Further, the procedures and outcomes of the ExComm are transparent to anyone wanting to find out about them. What are not public are the specifics of individual cases. We, as a community, must place some trust in our fellow community members, who serve on our behalf, to deal appropriately and sensitively with such details while informing us of the overall outcomes of their decisions.

  • anon

    Damn, I was going to cite MacDonald. She points out validly that the methodology to find the so-called statistics is wrong.

    #2: lrn2logic. She makes valid points about the cited statistics. Say what you want about her 'empathy', but her points are valid until refuted.

  • foryale

    Ms. Fitzgerald makes the claim that her old cited statistics - that 25% of women on campus are raped - is accurate. This is a patently offensive statistic, as far as I'm concerned. Let's take this figure to be accurate; let's say that most rapists are not serial rapists - that means that the average number of rapes committed by a rapist is some average between 1 and 2. Let's further say that 25% of Yale's male population is gay. That means that somewhere between 17% and 33% of straight men at Yale have raped someone. The anti-male undertone is clear.

    http://foryale.blogspot.com/2008/02/radical-feminism-at-yale-part-iii.html

  • Valerie

    Hieronymus Anonymous,

    WHAT ARE YOU ARGUING ABOUT???? This is an article trying to raise awareness about rape. What is the point in going through it sentence by sentence, pointing out any ambiguities with which you may disagree? Are you against raising awareness about rape? You may answer that you are just trying to correct supposedly false information. But, as you claim, your "only REAL point" is that you cannot believe, with your naive delicate disposition, that such a malignancy as rape can occur as often as once every seven days at Yale. WHAT IS YOUR DEFINITION OF RAPE, Bosch? Do you only consider rape to be a guffawing culprit forcefully plunging his member into an innocent victim, played by Naomi Campbell in the feature film version, and then running away to record another conquest in his rape journal? That probably doesn't happen every weekend at Yale. But I do not find it hard to believe, AT ALL, that every weekend, at least, non-consensual sex occurs, that someone wakes up the next day, thinking, 'fuck, I feel really dirty and sad, and I feel guilty but I know I shouldn't because I didn't ask for this and we were drunk but I really wouldn't have done it if I were thinking straight, and I asked him to stop quietly but he didn't take me seriously because he thought we were having fun…so I don't hate him or anything but maybe I do and ouch fuck and how am I supposed to go home, shower, and write my English paper like this never happened…" THAT HAPPENS. A LOT. Have a heart, kid.

  • Anonymous

    Valerie, the problem is this: for every rape there is a rapist. For every statistically made-up rape, someone is being accused of committing it. This is the problem with the feminist mentality on this issue. They believe that such bogus statistical analysis can only be a good thing, because it draws attention to the terrible crime of rape. What they do not realize is that such patently false statistics makes everyone wonder about real rape claims. Is this a real rape, or just one of those feminist inspired "statistical rapes."

  • Anonymous

    I don't understand what all this fuss is about. This oped recognized that rape has bad effects on everyone (victims, accused, perps) and talked about how society doesn't agree on the difference between drunk sex and date rape. Then invited everyone to a jury panel to ask questions/vote/express opinions. Sure, it's written by a feminist, but it's not preachy at all.

  • Hieronymus

    First, to Valerie (and, seriously, I am sorry for whatever hardship Life has, clearly, dealt you):

    "[Y]our "only REAL point" is that you cannot believe, with your naive delicate disposition, that such a malignancy as rape can occur as often as once every seven days at Yale."

    Yes: I do not believe that rape occurs every seven days at Yale; plain enough?

    "WHAT IS YOUR DEFINITION OF RAPE, Bosch?"

    That would be "the unlawful compelling of another person to submit to sex acts, especially sexual intercourse."

    And now, my sadness to what must be a predicament for you, because the following projects quite a bit:
    "But I do not find it hard to believe, AT ALL, …that someone wakes up the next day, thinking, 'fuck, I feel really dirty and sad, and I feel guilty but I know I shouldn't because I didn't ask for this and we were drunk but I really wouldn't have done it if I were thinking straight, and I asked him to stop quietly but he didn't take me seriously because he thought we were having fun…so I don't hate him or anything but maybe I do and ouch fuck and how am I supposed to go home, shower, and write my English paper like this never happened…"

    You poor thing…

    As for the others:
    Ah, yes: attack MacDonald rather than the underlying truth of her dissection of Koss's bogus "statistics." I would be more impressed if you could go back to Koss's "research" and prove her RIGHT.

    Let us look at just one piece:

    "[The study implies] that one-quarter of all college girls will be raped or be the targets of attempted rape by the end of their college years."

    Does not that seem to you, gentle reader, bordering on…preposterous? 25%? A veritable epidemic that is the subject of a massive (right wing? Is Yale right wing?) conspiracy and cover-up?

    Really: doesn't it all seem, maybe, just an eensy weensy bit over the top?

    So, #2: revisit Koss's research and, by your fine analysis, please prove her right. I look forward to it (and I mean that).

  • Hieronymus

    To #10:

    The assumptions are somewhat subtle: the op-ed does not allow for the possibility of rape NOT occurring nor does it seem to allow for the possibility of FALSE CHARGES (which are demonstrable).

    Note: "And if a man is accused of rape, that is also horrible for him to have to deal with. Rape does not benefit anyone."

    The first sentence talks about accusation of rape; the second sentiment assumes the validity of the accusation (by calling it "rape" and NOT calling it "accusation of rape"). Get it?

  • Anonymous

    Hey Hieronymus
    Care to explain this gem from your 2nd anonymous blog?
    "But given the point of this blog--to figure out what it means to be a man--I will post for my reader(s) the initial, base, male response.

    Upon returning to the States (and I will save the intervening time and activities for another day), my first action was to break into her apartment. My main fears, as a man, had to do with sex and money (I was rather unreceptive, at that time, to the idea of, for lack of a better term, true love). This man either was a better lover than I (but, of course, prior to commission, how could one know?) or clearly he must have had more measure (measure, in this case, could mean money, connections, power, worldly goods, whatever it is that men accumulate in their attempts to attract women; you know, crow-like "sparklies.")"

  • yale college 2009

    Dear Hieronymus,

    Your comments are condescending and contribute nothing to this important dialogue. If you were a college-aged girl, I might be convinced by your dismissal of Valerie's description of a typical weekend at Yale as a "projection." But you aren't. You've made it clear you aren't qualified to make judgements on what constitutes this alleged "weekly rape" at Yale, because you so callously dismiss a scenario that CERTAINLY IS a reality for many Yale women. It's legitimate to question whether Valerie and Stacey Fitzgerald are using the word "rape" too loosely, but as any undergraduate who drinks and socializes on weekends knows, it's not legitimate to question whether or not the situation of debatably-consensual sex Valerie described happens, because it does. I defy you to prove––using arguments that aren't based on quibbles over word choices or malicious personal attacks––that it doesn't occur. If you defy me to prove that it does occur, I will say: it happens to me and it happens to many of my friends; moreover, I am an undergraduate female and you are not, so please refrain from putting your hurtful speculations out there if you have no concrete experiences with which to back them up.

  • Valerie

    Hieronymus:

    This is the last time I'm responding to you, because there is no need to continue this ridiculous reparte. Your only response to my comment - besides affirming that you are incredulous about rape statistics - was, 'ohhh poor girl, you obviously have been raped yourself, you're unwittingly projecting SOOO much through your tone, implying that there is no way your knowledge of this can be merely sympathy or understanding of the experiences of friends; it must be a personal tragedy.'

    Well, you're wrong, it was sympathy.

    And you're also a jerk for trying to make fun of me for that, especially if it were true.

  • Anonymous

    Hey Hieronymus,

    Bosch has a C in it.

    Nice blog, man.

  • anon

    #16- the pun is obviously in the word "bosh."

    Also, whether Valerie's point was professed as mere sympathy or as personal experience, the fact is that her comments did not serve to refute Bosh's main concern: the statistical misrepresentation that is misleading and offensive.

  • Hieronymus

    To #16: perhaps you should look up the word "bosh" then? Some Yalie YOU are…

    To # 14: you wrote (with regard to rape occurring on a weekly basis): "[weekly rape] CERTAINLY IS a reality for many Yale women… If you defy me to prove that it does occur, I will say: it happens to me and it happens to many of my friends."

    You and many of your friends are raped on a weekly basis? And yet you do not report the crime to the authorities?

    Really? If that is a case, then there is something sorely wrong on Yale's campus, both with the perpetrators and, really, with the victims. You should seek some help.

    To #13: In the larger context, I find it self explanatory--and quite honest. What part do you need explained?

  • Anonymous

    While statistics often have a bad rep, the idea of "feminist rape statistics" it is completely offensive. They are so real, and time again proven. Shocked? Well, yes, it is a big problem! This is not to say, however, that we are unsympathetic to the fact that behind every one of those statistics there is a "rapist"--we know that not every "rapist" (in fact far fewer than you'd think we'd acknowledge) intends to damage a partner by having non-consensual sex, and that, often, the situation can be nuanced and confusing. No one wants to be called a "victim" either. As Fitzgerald wrote, rape does not benefit anyone. Maybe we need to reinvent, or clear stigmas on some of the language we use. "Rapist" certainly has terrible connotations, though it is the correct word to describe what's happening (and by the way, rapists are not necessarily only men). So, since the stats are right (you really need to give up on that), but the consequences of them are controversial, if not devastating, maybe we should just be clear on what kind of sex is acceptable, what constitutes respect in sexual relationships. This issue is too important to get hung up on semantics, and we should all be bigger than that--get over it, talk about substance.

  • Anonymous

    While statistics often have a bad rep, the idea of "feminist rape statistics" it is completely offensive. They are so real, and time again proven. Shocked? Well, yes, it is a big problem! This is not to say, however, that we are unsympathetic to the fact that behind every one of those statistics there is a "rapist"--we know that not every "rapist" (in fact far fewer than you'd think we'd acknowledge) intends to damage a partner by having non-consensual sex, and that, often, the situation can be nuanced and confusing. No one wants to be called a "victim" either. As Fitzgerald wrote, rape does not benefit anyone. Maybe we need to reinvent, or clear stigmas on some of the language we use. "Rapist" certainly has terrible connotations, though it is the correct word to describe what's happening (and by the way, rapists are not necessarily only men). So, since the stats are right (you really need to give up on that), but the consequences of them are controversial, if not devastating, maybe we should just be clear on what kind of sex is acceptable, what constitutes respect in sexual relationships. This issue is too important to get hung up on semantics, and we should all be bigger than that--get over it, talk about substance.

  • Hieronymus

    "[The statistics claiming that 25% of college women will be raped"] are so real, and time again proven.

    "[Although] behind every one of those statistics there is a "rapist"--we know that not every "rapist"… intends to damage a partner…"

    "So, since the stats are right (you really need to give up on that), but the consequences of them are controversial, if not devastating, maybe we should just be clear on what kind of sex is acceptable, what constitutes respect in sexual relationships. This issue is too important to get hung up on semantics, and we should all be bigger than that--get over it, talk about substance."

    Fascinating, especially that "semantics" in this case could, quite literally, define the difference between regret and prison.

    If 25% of the campus contracted gonorrhea, you can bet Yale would be on it! If 25% of the campus were mugged, you can bet state troopers would be called in! But if 25% of the campus suffer something much worse than a mugging, your claim is that we all just…ignore it?

    "Cognitive dissonance"; it isn't just for breakfast anymore…

  • Hieronymus

    "[The statistics claiming that 25% of college women will be raped"] are so real, and time again proven.

    "[Although] behind every one of those statistics there is a "rapist"--we know that not every "rapist"… intends to damage a partner…"

    "So, since the stats are right (you really need to give up on that), but the consequences of them are controversial, if not devastating, maybe we should just be clear on what kind of sex is acceptable, what constitutes respect in sexual relationships. This issue is too important to get hung up on semantics, and we should all be bigger than that--get over it, talk about substance."

    Fascinating, especially that "semantics" in this case could, quite literally, define the difference between regret and prison.

    If 25% of the campus contracted gonorrhea, you can bet Yale would be on it! If 25% of the campus were mugged, you can bet state troopers would be called in! But if 25% of the campus suffer something much worse than a mugging, your claim is that we all just…ignore it?

    "Cognitive dissonance"; it isn't just for breakfast anymore…

  • Hieronymus

    Oh, and if by "rape" you are merely referring to today's (often) alcohol-fueled, emotionally empty hookup culture: well, you will find small sympathy (i.e., you only have yourselves to blame).

    For some insights into how hookup culture negatively affects youths (most especially women)--as well as for a subtext as to how Capital "F" Feminism has impoverished young women--then I recommend UCLA psychiatrist Miriam Grossman's deeply disturbing book "Unprotected: A Campus Psychiatrist Reveals How Political Correctness in Her Profession Endangers Every Student."

    I also recommend, as a companion piece, Washington Post journalist Laura Session Stepp's book, "Unhooked: How Young Women Pursue Sex, Delay Love and Lose at Both".

    And don't forget, in therapy, to blame your baby-booming parents…

  • Hieronymus

    Oh, and if by "rape" you are merely referring to today's (often) alcohol-fueled, emotionally empty hookup culture: well, you will find small sympathy (i.e., you only have yourselves to blame).

    For some insights into how hookup culture negatively affects youths (most especially women)--as well as for a subtext as to how Capital "F" Feminism has impoverished young women--then I recommend UCLA psychiatrist Miriam Grossman's deeply disturbing book "Unprotected: A Campus Psychiatrist Reveals How Political Correctness in Her Profession Endangers Every Student."

    I also recommend, as a companion piece, Washington Post journalist Laura Session Stepp's book, "Unhooked: How Young Women Pursue Sex, Delay Love and Lose at Both".

    And don't forget, in therapy, to blame your baby-booming parents…

  • Anonymous

    No, Hieronymus, I'm suggesting that we do actually talk about and alleviate the issue. Ignore it? Well, now, wouldn't that be silly.

    Semantics are not the difference between regret and prison--rape is rape is rape. Many men (if not sometimes women too) are actually rapists (in fact, exactly how ever many it takes to reach the 25% statistic), although the word seems to imply malicious intent where often there is not. The fact that someone could be condemned for exercising in a zone lacking clarity or with confusion seems to scare you quite a bit. It should. And we sympathize. (Though remember that, even on a national level, rape is the underreported crime.) But if you're only concerned about innocent guys getting incarcerated (or, rather, rapists who didn't mean it), you're missing the point of the issue. Need I refer to the op-ed again: rape does not benefit anyone. We want to have a mature discussion about it, but you might be too wrapped up in a fear of being falsely labeled or judged to be able to notice that there's a bigger issue.

    (And by the way, stop citing the few media-popularized examples of sexual assault or female sexuality to prove your points. Believe me, we're educated on the issue. With 25%, you're embarrassing yourself by resting your cases on such a small subset of data.)

  • Anonymous

    No, Hieronymus, I'm suggesting that we do actually talk about and alleviate the issue. Ignore it? Well, now, wouldn't that be silly.

    Semantics are not the difference between regret and prison--rape is rape is rape. Many men (if not sometimes women too) are actually rapists (in fact, exactly how ever many it takes to reach the 25% statistic), although the word seems to imply malicious intent where often there is not. The fact that someone could be condemned for exercising in a zone lacking clarity or with confusion seems to scare you quite a bit. It should. And we sympathize. (Though remember that, even on a national level, rape is the underreported crime.) But if you're only concerned about innocent guys getting incarcerated (or, rather, rapists who didn't mean it), you're missing the point of the issue. Need I refer to the op-ed again: rape does not benefit anyone. We want to have a mature discussion about it, but you might be too wrapped up in a fear of being falsely labeled or judged to be able to notice that there's a bigger issue.

    (And by the way, stop citing the few media-popularized examples of sexual assault or female sexuality to prove your points. Believe me, we're educated on the issue. With 25%, you're embarrassing yourself by resting your cases on such a small subset of data.)

  • Anonymous

    PS--Did you even go to the event last night?

  • Anonymous

    PS--Did you even go to the event last night?

  • Hieronymus

    While I appreciate your civil tone, I still take issue with what you are saying:

    "No, Hieronymus, I'm suggesting that we do actually talk about and alleviate the issue."

    Fair enough: exactly what issue? (But wait, you "clarify" that soon enough.)

    "Semantics are not the difference between regret and prison--rape is rape is rape."

    No: rape is a crime, and an imprisonable one. If you are not discussing that imprisonable crime, then you are discussing something other than rape.

    "Many men (if not sometimes women too) are actually rapists [ed. note: with exactly the same force of reality as posting facebook pages around campus with the caption 'POTENTIAL RAPIST'.] (in fact, exactly how ever many it takes to reach the 25% statistic [ed. note: so, outcome-based accounting, i.e., force the data to fit the desired results, however Procrustean the effort…])…"

    "The fact that someone could be condemned for exercising in a zone lacking clarity or with confusion seems to scare you quite a bit."

    No: groups seeking to apply a subjective measure, and apply it differently to different groups, strikes me as irrational and unfair; the current topic is merely one such example.

    "(Though remember that, even on a national level, rape is the underreported crime.)"

    I do not doubt that, but I do doubt that the difference is on the order of twenty percentage points.

    "But if you're only concerned about innocent guys getting incarcerated (or, rather, rapists who didn't mean it), you're missing the point of the issue."

    No: criminals should suffer the consequences AND no innocent person should be sentenced for a crime that person did not commit (surely you do not dispute THAT--although, by the way, many did, including former Yalie Brodhead, who opined that the Duke Three, even if they committed no crime, should be punished; what happens when we apply that threshold elsewhere? Thoughtcrime; Precrime; etc.?).

    "Need I refer to the op-ed again: rape does not benefit anyone."

    Correct: but the definition of rape has been expanded to include, in some cases, relatively minor offenses such as "ogling" (and, no, I am neither an ogler nor a fan of ogling; however, ogling is not only non-quantifiable, it is inherently subjective, hence, dangerously swampy ground).

    "We want to have a mature discussion about it."

    Were that the case, you would choose some other language.

    No, no: you want to hear yourselves speak and, indeed, to silence others. Already gender relations are all out of whack (my favorite being that girls are to be considered adults in all measures EXCEPT where they are to be considered children, e.g., when some campuses impose the "must ask before proceeding to next step leading to sex" on men only… again, illogic prevails there)

    "but you might be too wrapped up in a fear of being falsely labeled or judged to be able to notice that there's a bigger issue."

    There is some truth there, for example, every male at Yale, every day, faces the threat of being labeled the aforementioned "POTENTIAL RAPIST" (or being called so publicly on e.g., the annual Speak Out). Simply absurd.

    And after what happened to the Duke Three--despite their complete and utter exoneration (indeed BEYOND being found "not guilty"--they were found INNOCENT) they still suffer attacks and vituperation--why would any Yale man rest easy?

    No, it is not *I* who is not helping the situation.

    "We have met the enemy and she is us."

    (And by the way, stop citing the few media-popularized examples of sexual assault or female sexuality to prove your points. Believe me, we're educated on the issue. With 25%, you're embarrassing yourself by resting your cases on such a small subset of data.)

  • Hieronymus

    While I appreciate your civil tone, I still take issue with what you are saying:

    "No, Hieronymus, I'm suggesting that we do actually talk about and alleviate the issue."

    Fair enough: exactly what issue? (But wait, you "clarify" that soon enough.)

    "Semantics are not the difference between regret and prison--rape is rape is rape."

    No: rape is a crime, and an imprisonable one. If you are not discussing that imprisonable crime, then you are discussing something other than rape.

    "Many men (if not sometimes women too) are actually rapists [ed. note: with exactly the same force of reality as posting facebook pages around campus with the caption 'POTENTIAL RAPIST'.] (in fact, exactly how ever many it takes to reach the 25% statistic [ed. note: so, outcome-based accounting, i.e., force the data to fit the desired results, however Procrustean the effort…])…"

    "The fact that someone could be condemned for exercising in a zone lacking clarity or with confusion seems to scare you quite a bit."

    No: groups seeking to apply a subjective measure, and apply it differently to different groups, strikes me as irrational and unfair; the current topic is merely one such example.

    "(Though remember that, even on a national level, rape is the underreported crime.)"

    I do not doubt that, but I do doubt that the difference is on the order of twenty percentage points.

    "But if you're only concerned about innocent guys getting incarcerated (or, rather, rapists who didn't mean it), you're missing the point of the issue."

    No: criminals should suffer the consequences AND no innocent person should be sentenced for a crime that person did not commit (surely you do not dispute THAT--although, by the way, many did, including former Yalie Brodhead, who opined that the Duke Three, even if they committed no crime, should be punished; what happens when we apply that threshold elsewhere? Thoughtcrime; Precrime; etc.?).

    "Need I refer to the op-ed again: rape does not benefit anyone."

    Correct: but the definition of rape has been expanded to include, in some cases, relatively minor offenses such as "ogling" (and, no, I am neither an ogler nor a fan of ogling; however, ogling is not only non-quantifiable, it is inherently subjective, hence, dangerously swampy ground).

    "We want to have a mature discussion about it."

    Were that the case, you would choose some other language.

    No, no: you want to hear yourselves speak and, indeed, to silence others. Already gender relations are all out of whack (my favorite being that girls are to be considered adults in all measures EXCEPT where they are to be considered children, e.g., when some campuses impose the "must ask before proceeding to next step leading to sex" on men only… again, illogic prevails there)

    "but you might be too wrapped up in a fear of being falsely labeled or judged to be able to notice that there's a bigger issue."

    There is some truth there, for example, every male at Yale, every day, faces the threat of being labeled the aforementioned "POTENTIAL RAPIST" (or being called so publicly on e.g., the annual Speak Out). Simply absurd.

    And after what happened to the Duke Three--despite their complete and utter exoneration (indeed BEYOND being found "not guilty"--they were found INNOCENT) they still suffer attacks and vituperation--why would any Yale man rest easy?

    No, it is not *I* who is not helping the situation.

    "We have met the enemy and she is us."

    (And by the way, stop citing the few media-popularized examples of sexual assault or female sexuality to prove your points. Believe me, we're educated on the issue. With 25%, you're embarrassing yourself by resting your cases on such a small subset of data.)

  • Anonymous

    1) Rape is a crime, and an imprisonable one, yes. The crime is serious, the punishment is steep. I'm trying to get you to agree, though, that rape has much more to do with respect than legality; since the respect doesn't seem to be reliably there in our culture (and complete respect may be an unattainable goal), there have to be laws to protect against the crime, which is unacceptable. I'm not arguing about the merits of the way the justice system treats this issue (that's a separate question), I'm talking about the issue itself--about respect in sexual relationships, about respect and equality (within and) between genders, and more simply, about respect and equality between people. Laws can deter people from undertaking punishable actions (and they do need to be there), and prosecuting rape can be a strategy for trying to enforce respect. But, we can also talk about the issue of sexual assault separate from the way that the legal system treats it, and in this way, hopefully diminish the legal presence that currently needs to be on the issue. Do you see?

    2) A subjective measure? Treating different groups differently? Rape has (and we acknowledge) a legal definition that applies to everyone…

    3) The twenty percentage points: look it up yourself.

    4) No, the definition of rape has not been expanded; the popularized (mis)understanding of it may have been, though (rape is a form of sexual assault, a broader category, is that what you're talking about?), and our commitment to respect needs to be.

    5) I understand your anger around the Duke case. Try to keep in mind, though, that for every defendant who is found innocent and bears subsequent stigma (a situation that I appreciate), there is a survivor who can be forever accused of lying, of simply regretting sex (as you previously suggested… see how the stereotypes are made?). Remember how difficult it can be to prove rape in a legal trial (and remember rape's low conviction rate), even though it may have actually occurred. The bottom line, AGAIN, is that rape (and more broadly, sexual assault) does not benefit anyone. That's why we're trying to have a wide and open dialogue about it--and yes, there's lots of work to be done.

    6) That leads to my last point, here, which is: if you think for a second that it is a likable feminist hobby to call out "potential rapists", you're grossly mistaken. (Take back your comment about the annual speak out, for you have reinvented its purpose--maybe you should stop and listen to it this year.) Many women, just like many men, like to have sex--and many women like to initiate sex. These women are and should be upheld to the same standards of consent-getting "before proceeding to next step leading to sex" as men, and that is not debatable (morally or legally). The frequency of women initiating sexual acts is typically lesser than that of men, however, which is perhaps what you find skewed? (We could reinvent masculinity and femininity, too, while we're at this…what do you think?!) As a feminist, I will be the first to acknowledge that all of the skewing (and not just around issues of sexual assault) is unfair; changing that is what feminism is all about. We'd love if you'd join us--as you can see, gender equality would be great for men too. In the meantime, though, this situation being what it is, we want to be respected--AS ADULTS--in sexual situations and relationships. I don't think that's too radical.

    PS--Did you go to the event last night?

  • Anonymous

    1) Rape is a crime, and an imprisonable one, yes. The crime is serious, the punishment is steep. I'm trying to get you to agree, though, that rape has much more to do with respect than legality; since the respect doesn't seem to be reliably there in our culture (and complete respect may be an unattainable goal), there have to be laws to protect against the crime, which is unacceptable. I'm not arguing about the merits of the way the justice system treats this issue (that's a separate question), I'm talking about the issue itself--about respect in sexual relationships, about respect and equality (within and) between genders, and more simply, about respect and equality between people. Laws can deter people from undertaking punishable actions (and they do need to be there), and prosecuting rape can be a strategy for trying to enforce respect. But, we can also talk about the issue of sexual assault separate from the way that the legal system treats it, and in this way, hopefully diminish the legal presence that currently needs to be on the issue. Do you see?

    2) A subjective measure? Treating different groups differently? Rape has (and we acknowledge) a legal definition that applies to everyone…

    3) The twenty percentage points: look it up yourself.

    4) No, the definition of rape has not been expanded; the popularized (mis)understanding of it may have been, though (rape is a form of sexual assault, a broader category, is that what you're talking about?), and our commitment to respect needs to be.

    5) I understand your anger around the Duke case. Try to keep in mind, though, that for every defendant who is found innocent and bears subsequent stigma (a situation that I appreciate), there is a survivor who can be forever accused of lying, of simply regretting sex (as you previously suggested… see how the stereotypes are made?). Remember how difficult it can be to prove rape in a legal trial (and remember rape's low conviction rate), even though it may have actually occurred. The bottom line, AGAIN, is that rape (and more broadly, sexual assault) does not benefit anyone. That's why we're trying to have a wide and open dialogue about it--and yes, there's lots of work to be done.

    6) That leads to my last point, here, which is: if you think for a second that it is a likable feminist hobby to call out "potential rapists", you're grossly mistaken. (Take back your comment about the annual speak out, for you have reinvented its purpose--maybe you should stop and listen to it this year.) Many women, just like many men, like to have sex--and many women like to initiate sex. These women are and should be upheld to the same standards of consent-getting "before proceeding to next step leading to sex" as men, and that is not debatable (morally or legally). The frequency of women initiating sexual acts is typically lesser than that of men, however, which is perhaps what you find skewed? (We could reinvent masculinity and femininity, too, while we're at this…what do you think?!) As a feminist, I will be the first to acknowledge that all of the skewing (and not just around issues of sexual assault) is unfair; changing that is what feminism is all about. We'd love if you'd join us--as you can see, gender equality would be great for men too. In the meantime, though, this situation being what it is, we want to be respected--AS ADULTS--in sexual situations and relationships. I don't think that's too radical.

    PS--Did you go to the event last night?

  • RC

    I gotta say, as an undergraduate female, who has been sexually active - and has even been pressured into doing some things she did not want to do - I more or less align with Hieronymous on this one, for so many reasons.
    1) A lot of the statistics are so much doodoo.
    2) Valerie's described situation is regrettable, and is rape/sexual assualt - but so many women do not say no out loud, and do not seriously resist. To them, it was rape. But not to the guy. Seriously, fellow women, you have to actually SAY NO. loudly. and guys, if her eyes won't stay open, stop. that's rape. there, that's a huge portion of campus rape cases.
    3) i, like many of the above posters, was pissed at Fitzgerald's implication that excomm is somehow above the law. excomm happens when a case doesn't stick, can't be proven, or the person raped decides not to press charges. With most date rape, thems the breaks - Yale is actually going above and beyond the law, trying to punish something that will not stand up to the harsh standards of a legal proceeding. Of course the punishment is slight, because nothing can be proven. That's unfortunate, but it's how our legal system works. It has been estimated that as many as 25% of rape accusations are false. How'd you like to be part of that 25% - not a poor decision, not wrong place wrong guy wrong time, just dumb f-ing luck. I sympathize both with that 25% and with the other (even if it is more like 15).
    Honestly, I know some grown women who have to see their assaulters regularly, and can't do anything about it. I think the excomm system's pretty fair.

  • Anonymous

    "To them, it was rape. But not to the guy. "
    No, that's not rape--if consent is given and not withdrawn, then maybe it feels terrible (agreed, she should have said something), but that's not rape.

    "guys, if her eyes won't stay open, stop. that's rape."
    Unless consent was never given (a possibility, i.e. if the girl was too drunk/drugged/asleep for consent to count), or was withdrawn, that's not rape either, but it is disrespectful, and generally a bad idea.

    This is the important distinction--just want to be clear.

  • yale college 2009

    Hieronymus (speaking to your response to #14 in comment #18),

    Since I knew you would comb through my piece word for word, I made sure to phrase things very carefully. I never said I was attempting to prove that "rape" occurrs every week. I was telling you that you have no right to dismiss a scenario of DEBATABLY CONSENSUAL SEX that occurs every weekend (those were my words! not rape!) because you don't know what you're talking about.

    Thanks for twisting my words around. You haven't won this argument because you haven't been able to rise to the level at which this debate should be. As a woman, I'm not entirely sure if drunk sex is rape, and I'm willing to admit that, because that's what we should really be talking about here. I'd be genuinely interested to hear your opinion on the "drunk sex vs. date rape" dilemma, but you seem too filled with contempt for college women to deign to comment on or even recognize this extremely real issue at hand.

  • Hieronymus

    "You haven't won this argument because you haven't been able to rise to the level at which this debate should be."

    Not trying to "win" anything; merely pointing out absurdity wherever, whenever I see it; with regard to "debate" at some required level: yes, setting the rules of engagement is a favored Brownshirt exercise (heck, just look how Hillary is trying to steamroll Obama…).

    "I'd be genuinely interested to hear your opinion on the "drunk sex vs. date rape" dilemma,"

    It would have to be case by case; however, at a basic level, don't be an idiot, don't get drunk (and, parents, train your children to drink - duh! Yet another aspect that Europeans have figured out but Americans continue to screw up…).

    "[Y]ou seem too filled with contempt for college women to deign to comment on or even recognize this extremely real issue at hand."

    I am not filled with contempt for college women or, more precisely, I hold no more contempt for college women than I do for most young people (or, indeed, most people) in general; indeed, I am an equal opportunity misanthrope.