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Safety Dance Update, 3

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.

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14 Comments To "Safety Dance Update, 3"

#1 Comment By frank uible On November 15, 2018 @ 10:05 am

Surprise! Double standard at work for the powerful.

#2 Comment By fendertweed On November 15, 2018 @ 10:47 am

Is that a shark I see jumping in the background? …

#3 Comment By Whitney Wilson ’90 On November 15, 2018 @ 11:16 am

At this risk of fanning the flames of the absurd, I don’t believe the affirmative consent standard necessarily requires a “Can I do this” followed by a “Yes.” See for example, this definition:

Blockquote:

Consent can be given by words or actions, as long as those words or actions create clear permission regarding willingness to engage in the sexual activity.

#4 Comment By Johnny On November 15, 2018 @ 1:30 pm

I found a third document filed recently. see it here https://www.scribd.com/document/392995755/P-Reply-to-D-Response-in-Opposition

#5 Comment By Johnny On November 15, 2018 @ 1:36 pm

#6 Comment By Daffy Duck On November 15, 2018 @ 1:48 pm

Whitney,
you’re clearly out of the loop. Check out this link: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/volokh-conspiracy/wp/2017/02/01/campus-due-process-in-the-courts/?utm_term=.0072787b0d13

“At the district court level, the most impressive decision of recent years came from U.S. District Judge F. Dennis Saylor of the District of Massachusetts, a George W. Bush appointee. A bitter breakup of a long-term relationship between two male Brandeis University students led one to file with Brandeis a sexual assault complaint against the other. His former boyfriend’s alleged offenses? Sometimes looking at him when he was nude in a shared bathroom; waking him up with kisses, which the university found non-consensual because sleeping lovers cannot consent; and having non-consensual sex with him on the first night of a sexual relationship that was indisputably consensual over the next 18 months.

In violation of Brandeis rules that promised the accused student a hearing, the university turned the case over to a former OCR lawyer and assigned her both to investigate the claim and to determine whether the accused student was guilty. The process did not allow the accused student even to be shown the evidence against him. The guilty finding seemed preordained. This in a case that most people would see as obviously frivolous even if every detail of the accuser’s story was taken to be true.”

#7 Comment By Whitney Wilson ’90 On November 15, 2018 @ 2:34 pm

Whitney,
you’re clearly out of the loop.

Definitely not the first or the last time!

#8 Comment By abl On November 15, 2018 @ 2:50 pm

Given this:

and having non-consensual sex with him on the first night of a sexual relationship that was indisputably consensual over the next 18 months.

This is troubling:

This in a case that most people would see as obviously frivolous even if every detail of the accuser’s story was taken to be true.

The fact that someone goes on to date his or her rapist doesn’t change the original fact of the rape in question. I’m less familiar with this in the sexual assault context, but in the domestic violence context, it is very common for victims to remain with the assaulter, even after multiple life-threatening assaults. There’s a rich body of psychological research explaining why this is (that I won’t get into here); suffice it to say, the reason isn’t that any domestic assault followed by re-coupling is not actually a domestic assault.

#9 Comment By Steph On November 15, 2018 @ 4:17 pm

Not gonna lie, Dave, you speculating on the romantic life of the new (female) college president is quite disconcerting.

#10 Comment By David Dudley Field ’25 On November 15, 2018 @ 4:20 pm

Steph:

1) More disconcerting than the College ruining John Doe’s life, and the lives of several other completely innocent students?

2) If it makes you feel better, replace a senior married male faculty member in the above. According to Williams, I am sure that he has been guilty of scores of acts of sexual assault since arriving in Williamstown.

#11 Comment By Daffy Duck On November 15, 2018 @ 4:33 pm

abl:

Read the decision for yourself. You’re cherrypicking facts.

https://kcjohnson.files.wordpress.com/2013/08/brandeis-decision.pdf

#12 Comment By abl On November 15, 2018 @ 4:52 pm

Daffy Duck —

I’m just excerpting from your article. “If every detail of the accuser’s story was taken to be true,” then the accused “had non-consensual sex with [the victim] on the first night of a sexual relationship.” And, if the accused had non-consensual sex (known more commonly as “rape”) with the victim once — irrespective of whether it was followed by lots of consensual sex — then this represents a very serious (and certainly non-frivolous) case.

It’s possible that the article you posted misleadingly represented the accusations in question. I haven’t read the complaint myself. But I don’t think there’s anything unfair about my criticism of the article that you posted. At a very minimum, the article author’s attitude is extremely troubling.

#13 Comment By Johnny On November 18, 2018 @ 7:07 am

I have read almost everything available so far and all I can picture is a set of railroad tracks. Williams used this poor guy’s ex-girlfriend too in the process. Unreal, this travesty.

#14 Comment By Williams Ex Pat On November 18, 2018 @ 7:41 pm

I am an alum living abroad but even though I am unlikely to be known to the Williams community, I don’t dare use my real identity when speaking of the following. The United States has some very serious issues with how it treats men these days. This case is such a glaring example of rampant misandry in the states. I wish Williams had a clue how disgusting its treatment was of this poor student in this case.