Posted on | July 13, 2014 | 106 Comments
A long article in the New York Times describes the fate of “Anna,” who was a freshman last fall at Hobart and William Smith Colleges (tuition $46,852 a year). This elite liberal arts college in Geneva, N.Y., has an enrollment of 2,300 students and, apparently, a campus culture that turns a blind eye to illegal underage alcohol consumption. So when a girl shows up as an 18-year-old freshman . . .
She had entered what is commonly known as the Red Zone, a period of vulnerability for sexual assaults, beginning when freshmen first walk onto campus until Thanksgiving break.
“Students arrive and you have a new environment, new social circle and the fear that goes with new expectations,” said Robert S. Flowers, vice president for student affairs. That can lead to experimentation, including excessive drinking and attendant problems.
For that reason, the school held what students call rape seminars, the first in a program that, Mr. Flowers said, has made Hobart and William Smith a leader in preventing sexual violence.
Do these “rape seminars” warn freshmen girls against drinking rum and partying with football players at the Kappa Sig house? Two weeks after school started, that’s what Anna was doing:
Anna and a senior football player she had just met were grinding to the music, rubbing their bodies together. . . .
Anna said she had begun the evening drinking shots of rum mixed into Gatorade.
By the time police Sgt. Anthony Pluretti showed up at 2:10 a.m., Anna had reportedly had sexual intercourse — evidently including anal intercourse — twice with the football player, and had also performed oral sex on another player. Rather than this incident being investigated and prosecuted as a crime, however, it was handled as a school disciplinary matter by the college, and Anna was shocked by what she perceived as the unfairness of the proceedings:
The panel’s initial questioning was based mostly on the investigative work of campus officers who aggressively sought out witnesses, followed leads and conducted interviews. According to the federal Education Department, a sexual-assault investigation typically takes around 60 calendar days. Hobart and William Smith did it in a little more than a week.
The hearing followed almost immediately. . . .
Anna was questioned first. “It was one of the hardest things I have ever gone through,” she said later, adding, “I felt like I was talking to someone who knew nothing of any sort of social interaction; what happens at parties; what happens in sex.”
She had to relive that evening through questions that jumped around in time, interrupted her answers and misrepresented witness statements. . . .
Two of the three panel members did not examine the medical records showing blunt force trauma — it was the chairwoman’s prerogative not to share them. Instead, the panel asked what Anna had drunk, who she may have kissed and how she had danced. It was, Anna said, as if admitting you were grinding — a common way of dancing — “means you therefore consent to sex or should be raped.”
You can read the whole thing. One wonders how the world could be arranged so that 18-year-old girls can get drunk at parties and “grind” with football players without the players inferring from this behavior that the girls are interested in having sex.
One also wonders why colleges are treated like bubbles where normal rules do not apply. In the normal world, sexual assault is a felony, and is investigated and prosecuted as such. On college campuses, it seems, sexual assault is treated about as seriously as laws against providing alcohol to teenagers, i.e., not seriously at all: “Oopsie! You got drunk. Oopsie! Is that a football player’s penis in your butt?”
See, there is an unspoken agreement involved: If parents are paying $46,852 a year to send their daughter to college, the college isn’t going to kick the girl out (and forfeit $46,582) just because her idea of fun is chugging rum at the Kappa Sig house. If it weren’t for drunk freshman girls “grinding” on the dance floor, why would the guys at Kappa Sig — all of whom represent $46,852 in annual revenue to the college administration — bother throwing parties? And if the football players can’t take turns banging the drunk girl they picked up at the Kappa Sig house, what’s the point of playing football?
These are the implicit assumptions of 21st-century elite college life: Underage drinking and sexual promiscuity, for $46,852 a year.
If you don’t like that deal, go to community college. Full-time tuition at Fingers Lake Community College is only $4,022 a year, and it’s less than 14 miles from the campus of Hobart and William Smith Colleges. But you don’t get the social prestige of the elite liberal arts college experience by attending community college, and prestige is what these parents are paying $46,852 a year for, isn’t it?
Having your teenage daughter raped by football players at Hobart and William Smith Colleges is a luxury most people can’t afford.
I certainly don’t know what to believe, which brings me back to the notion of personal responsibility. Anna got herself into trouble. So many of these “rape” stories I read about are just like this. It always comes down to he said, she said, and alcohol is involved . . .
Alcohol is always involved in these stories, see? But colleges aren’t willing to discipline kids for underage drinking. If you want to stop “rape culture,” do something to stop “drunk culture.”