Two new filings (Statement of Facts and Memo for Motion of Summary Judgment) in the Safety Dance case provide an occasion to revisit the biggest sexual assault case at Williams since Brackinridge or Gensheimer/Foster. Day 3.
The change Sandstrom refers to concerns affirmative consent. “No,” obviously, means “No.” But, just a few year ago, it was assumed that, if someone did not want to do something, they had an obligation to say so. Now, the standard is one of “affirmative consent.” It is every Eph’s obligation to ask for, and receive, permission for every sexual act. John Doe was, officially, thrown out of Williams, not for ignoring Jane Roe’s protestations but for (allegedly) not ensuring that Jane Roe said “Yes.”
This is very bit as insane as it sounds. Consider:
How many times has Maud Mandel sexually assaulted her husband since arriving at Williams?
I am 100% serious in asking this question. Consider:
The Williams College Code of Conduct requires affirmative consent for all sexual activity.
Consent means that at the time of the sexual contact, words and conduct indicate freely given approval or agreement, without coercion, by all participants in the sexual contact. Consent may not be inferred from silence or passivity.
Williams also defines “sexual activity” very broadly, as “any sexual touching, however slight, with any body part or object, by any person upon any other person . . .”
So, if Maud Mandel, without asking (and receiving!) explicit permission, has ever kissed her husband goodbye in the morning, or given him an affectionate pat on the behind as he walked out the door, or . . . anything really — then she has committed sexual assault and should, like John Doe, be kicked out of Williams.
This is, of course, nonsense. No normal person thinks that people, like Maud Mandel, in a relationship need to get permission for every single sexual activity ahead of time. But that is still the official policy at Williams, a policy which is used as a stick the ruin the lives of men — many of them poor and/or minority — much less powerful than Maud Mandel.
If John Doe deserves to be kicked out of Williams, than Maud Mandel is guilty of sexual assault.