To the Editor:

David White (“Harvard’s new sexual harassment policy: brilliance at last,” 9/16) claims that policies like Harvard’s will eliminate the “he said/she said” discourse of sexual assault cases, and that they protect male victims. In fact, they accomplish neither.

Because of a sharp increase in the number of sexual assault cases raised in the last year, Harvard now requires corroborating evidence. As White said, “They are seeking some basis on which to proceed rather than one person’s word against another’s.” One of the types of evidence that a victim may bring in front of the board is that she talked to a friend soon after the event. If the accusers are so likely to lie about such cases, so likely as to cause Harvard to create this policy and for White to defend it, who is to say that the accuser wouldn’t lie to her roommate? It then becomes a case of “he said/they said,” two people’s word against one. He tells his roommate it didn’t happen. Now it’s two on two. Whose side are you on?

White goes on to say that “feminist groups, basing their arguments on the assumption that women never lie and men always do, have expanded their definition of date rape to include verbal persuasion and continued (and ultimately successful) verbal advances. In earlier times, these methods were called seduction.”

Date rape does not include verbal “persuasion.” In fact, the model of consensual sexual activity is focused around vocal expression of desire. Date rape occurs when the talking is actually verbal abuse, verbal threats or unwanted verbal assaults. To use a previous analogy, no one will blame a person whose wallet is stolen if the perpetrator claimed to have a gun and verbally threatened to shoot. If the rape survivor believed his or her life to be in danger, rape occurred; whether it actually took physical form is irrelevant. These definitions are used today to protect everyone.

I wonder how comfortable a straight man would be jogging on the boardwalk on Miami Beach to the sound of other men whistling and making unwanted propositions. Does this classify as seduction? And if the “feminist” stance is that women never lie and men always do, what if it’s not “he said/she said,” but rather “he said/he said”? Or “she said/she said”? Sexual assault can, and does, happen between members of the same sex. Who is the victim then? Who is punished by these new rules, and who does the “feminist” model tell us to believe? Male victims of same-sex assault are in the same position as women, and they are further victimized by this change in policy, not protected, as White would have us believe all men are.

Cyd Cipolla ’03

September 19, 2002

n Do Yalies make good moms?

To the Editor:

I am writing in response to the highly disturbing article (“Yale teaches alum art of being single mom,” 9/18). I don’t think there is a valid correlation between single parenting and having a Yale degree. It is absurd to think that a Yale diploma can teach anyone how to be a good parent, and that single parents who do not have an Ivy League degree do not know how to be good parents.

Claiming that having a Yale diploma is a good reason to keep a child is absolutely ridiculous. Many single women decide to have kids, and do not need a Yale degree to do it. Furthermore, the relevance of this subject matter was significantly diminished by the fact that the student graduated in 1992, and was 27 at the time of her pregnancy.

Shelita Stewart ’04

September 18, 2002