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College Employee Assaults Student

That is a misleading headline. But it isn’t untrue! From former Williams faculty member KC Johnson:

Adoption of the Dear Colleague letter in 2011—coupled with campus pressure from activists and their faculty and administrative allies—has paved the way for all sorts of procedural abuses in campus sexual assault cases. This new system is one that’s ripe for abuse and favoritism, in all sorts of ways. The latest example comes in a lawsuit filed against my former employer, Williams College. (You can read the complaint here.)

The case revolves around the actions of a former Williams employee, who worked in the Alumni Relations office for the 2015-2016 academic year. She came to the job after graduating from Williams. For more than a year before she graduated, the employee dated another Williams student—identified as John Doe in the complaint—who was one year behind her academically. The two were close enough that the employee knew Doe’s computer password and (allegedly) his Facebook and Snapchat passwords.

It seems to have been an uneven relationship; in October 2014, the employee (then still a student) wrote to Williams dean Sarah Bolton indicating that she and Doe had a (verbal) argument. (Bolton departed Williams last summer and is now president at the College of Wooster.) Because “he ended up calling me selfish and telling me he can’t even look at me,” the future employee reported, she’d need to take a week off from school to recover emotionally. The e-mail contained no hint of any allegation of physical misconduct by Doe. Bolton responded very sympathetically, despite the extreme nature of the request (a week off from classes) given the conduct alleged (a personal insult).

Read the whole thing. It is off the hook, as the kids say. At one point, the Williams employee slapped the Williams student. Even though the student has completed all the requirements for graduation, the College has since expelled him, without a degree. Comments:

dcp11) We need a scandal nickname. Suggestions? The Williams employee accused of assault is REDACTED ’15. Perhaps “REDACTED?” Maybe “Safety Dance?” (The big fight between Doe and REDACTED started when Doe danced with someone that REDACTED did not want him to dance with. “We can dance if we want to, we can leave our friends behind. …”)

2) I could spend all of January going through the details. Many friends of EphBlog (Dean Dave, Brooks Foehl ’88, Steve Klass) make cameo appearances. Would readers be interested?

3) The facts in the complaint are absolutely damning to Williams. (I realize that this is just one side of the case, but read it for yourself.) Why doesn’t Williams just settle and allow Doe to have his degree? Taking this to trial seems like madness to me.

4) I used to congratulate Williams on being fairly competent when it came to sexual assault investigations. There were certainly no absurd cases as at Vassar and Amherst. That is no longer true. Is new Dean of the College Sandstrom to blame?

5) If the Record does not have multiple front page articles on this story tomorrow, it is incompetent.

UPDATE: Student names redacted. Going forward, we will refer to the female student/employee as Susan Smith and the male student as John Doe, following the latest version of the legal filings.

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Williams Has the Fifth Highest Rate of Rape in the Country

Latest news:

Harvard University tops the list of rapes reported on Massachusetts college campuses, according the recently released federal data. The Cambridge-based campus had 33 reported rapes in 2014, the latest year data is available through the U.S. Department of Education statistics.

The second and third highest number of reported campus rapes were reported at Boston College with 22 and Williams College with 19. If looking at rapes per capita, Williams tops the list with 8.9 per 1,000 students. That per capita number also puts Williams as fifth highest number of rapes reported at college campuses across the country.

1) Note that 19 rapes does not match up with the two most recent annual reports from Williams, discussed here and here. Probably cause is calendar year versus academic year reporting standards.

2) Data is related to the Clery Act. Go here to examine other schools. For Williams, the key sections include:

clery1

clery2

Does this mean that there were 4 rapes at Williams that occurred outside student housing? What the hell! If Williams students are being raped (by strangers!?) as they walk outside, then sexual assault is truly out of control. I assume that there is some other explanation . . .

3) The Record ought to write a story about this data and what it means.

4) Best part is this note appended to the end of the story:

Editor’s Note: A Williams College spokesperson provided a clarification late Wednesday noting that the number of rapes were those reported in 2014, not necessarily those that occurred. The school hired its first director of sexual assault prevention and response in 2014, so an increase in reports was expected.

Hmmm. Lots of different ways to parse this clarification. Is Williams claiming that 19 is an over-estimate because there are lots of false reports? Or is it that there were just as many rapes before 2014 but that students declined to report them because Dean of the College Sarah Bolton was a well-known misogynist?

Long time readers will recall that Williams has a history of making technically-correct but still-very-weird clarifications like this.

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Latest Sexual Assault Report

From Dean Bolton:

I write, as I do each year, to update you on our work in sexual assault prevention and response, and to report how our disciplinary processes and other accountability processes have been used over the previous year. On the advice of the student members of the Sexual Assault Prevention and Awareness Group (SAPA), we present data from the previous year (in this case 2014-2015) each spring.

The more transparency the better. Key paragraphs:

In the 2014-2015 school year, the college received 10 reports of sexual assault, as well as one of dating violence, three of stalking, and one of retaliation. Of these 15 cases, 13 involved people who were still members of the college community, and so were eligible for college accountability processes. The other two involved individuals who are now alumni or were not members of the Williams community.

Of the 13 individuals reporting these incidents, six have chosen to take part in investigation and adjudication through the college as of now (three cases regarding sexual assault, two cases regarding stalking, and one case regarding retaliation.) Investigation and adjudication through the college remain an option as long as the respondent is a member of the college community.

Two of the three cases of sexual assault resulted in findings of responsibility, as did one of the two cases of stalking and the case of retaliation. All students found responsible for these violations were separated from the college. One student was expelled, and the others were suspended for terms ranging from one semester to two years.

My comments will be similar to last year’s, starting here. Regular readers have noted that I only got through 8 of the promised 10 days of analysis. Shall I give it another shot?

Entire e-mail is below the break.
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Code of Conduct Changes

An all-student e-mail from Dean Bolton:

From: Sarah Bolton
Date: Friday, 9 October 2015
Subject: Something Important to Read this Reading Period
To: WILLIAMS-STUDENTS@listserv.williams.edu

Dear Students,

I hope you are well as we head into the weekend. I’m writing today to invite you to do another kind of reading. Attached below is important information; the Code of Conduct, rules about file sharing and copyright (particularly important for downloading movies and music) , and the Honor Code. While some of what’s here may be familiar, there’s also new information. Here are some highlights of changes.

-The definitions of sexual assault, relationship abuse, retaliation and consent have been updated based on recommendations from the Sexual Assault Prevention and Awareness committee.
– An amnesty policy has been created for students reporting sexual assault, which means that students reporting assault that took place in the context of the use of alcohol or drugs won’t face any college consequences regarding alcohol or drug use.
-A new medical amnesty policy has been created for students seeking medical help for themselves or others in the wake of alcohol or drug use.
-New information about how to download movies, music and other media while staying within the bounds of law is being provided.

Of course, all of this information is also available online, but since we have these important updates, I wanted to send it out to you as well, so that you can easily review it.

My best wishes to you for a good long weekend and reading period,
Dean Bolton

Here (doc) is the document. Should we spend a week going through it?

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Rape Culture Crusade

More from KC Johnson:

Ironically, the Post series coincided with publication of a study in the New England Journal of Medicine, which showed how training female undergraduates to resist assault had been “successful in decreasing the occurrence of rape, attempted rape, and other forms of victimization among first-year university women.”

This sounds like excellent news—but instead it has been met with outcry by victims’ rights advocates. Here’s Dana Bolger, an Amherst graduate who was a colleague of Amherst accuser AS in the campus victims’ rights movement, dismissing the significance of the study: “As a friend of mine once said, ‘If you’re pushing a woman to change her behavior to ‘prevent’ rape, rather than telling a perpetrator to change his, you’re really saying, ‘Make sure he rapes the other girl.’ There will always be another girl at the bar.”

Prevention, it seems, is not a legitimate goal.

Indeed. Recall our discussion a few months ago. Highlight:

Accusations of victim blaming are the laziest response of the censorious left. Imagine that I tell you to look both ways when using the crosswalk for route 2. Good advice? You bet! Of course, in a perfect world, you shouldn’t have to look both ways. You are in a crosswalk! You have the right of way. And, a fool might accuse me of victim blaming since, implicitly, I am suggesting that anyone who did not look both ways and was hit by a car was, at least partly, at fault. But “Look both ways” is still excellent advice. And so is “Don’t drink too much.”

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College Rape Hype

Latest from former Williams professor KC Johnson:

Since 2012, the New York Times has led the way in systematically biased coverage of on-campus sexual assault allegations and how colleges are responding. The paper has relentlessly hyped the issue, has smeared quite possibly innocent students while omitting evidence that they were innocent, and has cheered efforts to presume guilt and deny due process for the accused. It has also parroted egregiously misleading statistical claims used by the Obama administration and others to portray the campus rape problem, which is clearly serious, as an out-of-control “epidemic,” which it clearly is not. (In fact, the campus rate rape has plunged in the past 20 years.)

Now the Washington Post has joined a race to the bottom among the legacy media, in a June 12 package of two very long front-page articles and a third inside the paper that includes both the results of a Post-Kaiser Family Foundation poll and detailed interviews of some respondents. The main headline: “1 in 5 women say they were violated.” The articles and the poll purport to confirm claims by the administration, its congressional supporters, most of the media, and campus activists that around 20 percent of female college students are sexually assaulted while at school. In this portrayal, the nation’s campuses are hotbeds of violent crime.

But like many other advocacy polls on sexual assault, the Post-Kaiser poll misleads readers—most of whom surely will assume that “sexual assault” means criminal sexual assault—by using that criminally charged phrase for shock value in the articles while deliberately avoiding it in the survey questions. As detailed below, those questions are so broad as to invite survey respondents to complain about virtually any encounter that they later regretted, including many that were not sexual assault or rape as defined by law.

Read the whole thing. Note, also, the ending.

KC Johnson is a professor of history at Brooklyn College and the CUNY Graduate Center. Stuart Taylor Jr. is a Washington writer and Brookings nonresident fellow. In 2007, they coauthored Until Proven Innocent: Political Correctness and the Shameful Injustices of the Duke Lacrosse Rape Case. They are preparing a new book about how the campus rape hysteria railroads innocent students.

Should we hope that Williams does or does not appear in this new book?

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Sexual Assault Railroading

Former Williams professor KC Johnson writes:

Yu and a fellow member of the crew team attended a party, had quite a bit to drink, and then returned to his room to have sexual relations. Yu’s roommate interrupted them, the accuser said she didn’t want to go any further, and she left—following this up with several Facebook messages, over many weeks, in which she expressed regret for how the evening had wound up. Then, on the last day allowed under Vassar procedures, Walker (whose father is a Vassar professor) filed a sexual assault complaint at the school; the timing precluded Yu’s filing a counter-claim. She further requested that the matter be handled for Vassar’s opaque Interpersonal Violence Panel (whose procedures aren’t public), on which three of her father’s colleagues would serve. (Vassar denied Yu’s request that the panel include a student.) The entire process—from filing of charges to the “investigation” to the adjudication to Yu’s expulsion—took less than three weeks.

Read the whole thing.

If Yu isn’t innocent, then no heterosexual male undergraduate is. And the single person most responsible for Yu’s persecution is, of course, Cappy Hill ’76, Vassar’s president.

Two Williams students were expelled in 2012-2013. Were both of them as “guilty” as Peter Yu?

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Kornell Retweets Pinker

A secret EphBlog vice is to identify faculty members who are on the right of the campus consensus. This tweet makes me think that (recently tenured!) psychology professor Nate Kornell may be a secret member of the not-crazy-left-wing Eph brigade.

kornell_pinker

As always, a retweet is not an endorsement, but it seems clear to me that Kornell is sympathetic to Pinker’s point: the campaign against campus rape, while laudable in theory, seems in practice to be deeply suspect.

If I were a male Williams student accused of sexual assault, I would seek advice from Kornell. He might be sympathetic to your plight.

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Sexual Assault Discussion

Consider this criticism of my suggestions regarding how to decrease sexual assault at Williams. Let’s go through it point-by-point.

Should Williams also tell its female students to wear longer skirts and more conservative tops to help men control their unavoidable urges?

Please confront the argument I actually made, rather than the one you think (wish?) I had made. For example, I wrote the following (in bold):

[T]he College could tell female Ephs the truth about alcohol use and sexual assault. Women who stay sober (and/or drink in moderation) are vastly less likely to be sexually assaulted than those who don’t.

Do you agree or disagree? Once we settle these important issues, we can move on to a Williams dress code.

Yeah, totally, let’s blame the victim here.

Accusations of victim blaming are the laziest response of the censorious left. Imagine that I tell you to look both ways when using the crosswalk for route 2. Good advice? You bet! Of course, in a perfect world, you shouldn’t have to look both ways. You are in a crosswalk! You have the right of way. And, a fool might accuse me of victim blaming since, implicitly, I am suggesting that anyone who did not look both ways and was hit by a car was, at least partly, at fault. But “Look both ways” is still excellent advice. And so is “Don’t drink too much.”

You are completely uninformed about sexual assault (your “(all?)” parenthetical makes it seem like you doubt the very existence of male-male and female-female sexual assault).

This is an empirical question! I bet that all 14 cases of sexual assault at Williams last year were male-on-female. Want to take the other side of that wager?

By the way, I have never read of a female-on-female sexual assault report on a college campus. Have you?

Here’s an idea to increase yield that’s a little different than your previous post: the college should publicly disavow David.

The College is smarter than that! Always ignore dissident voices.

In the past two days of previews, I’ve been asked by no fewer than 7 prefrosh a variant of “did that crazy ephblog guy really go to Williams? Is he typical of Williams students? Because if so, I’m not going here.”

Only 7? EphBlog is slipping!

EphBlog is hardly “typical” of Williams students, but there are scores (hundreds?) of Williams students who share our concern over changes in sexual assault policy. You should meet some of them!

One can only guess how many matriculants ephblog has cost Williams over the years.

Anyone who would choose, say, Oberlin or Swarthmore over Williams because of a concern that the Williams community allows/nurtures non-leftwing views — even, gasp, a concern with due process! — is a student I would rather not have.

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One in Five

Good to see Williams taking a lead on sexual assault prevention. Read the whole article. I was especially pleased with this portion.

College sexual assault is a serious problem, both at Williams and across the country. Although the oft-cited statistic of 1 in 5 women being sexually assaulted during their college years is highly misleading (c.f., Emily Yoffe’s reporting in Slate), even a single rape is one too many.

Good stuff! No one denies that sexual assault is a problem. But it is nice to see Williams avoid the inaccurate statistics and out-of-control moral panic that is all too common on other campuses. Yoffe (a liberal reported writing in a liberal news outlet) provides an excellent overview of the issue. Kudos to the Alumni Review for framing the problem correctly.

Much more commentary below . . .
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Hockey Roster Changes

For those interested in campus events in the fall of 2012, this fall 2013 post from a NESCAC hockey blog is interesting:

Williams has posted its 2013-14 men’s hockey roster on their website. The Ephs carry a short roster, with nine freshman joining 15 returning players for a total of 24 players. The only two omissions from the returnees are sophomores Taylor Carmola and Mike Erickson, neither of whom played a large role with the Ephs last season.

Williams maintains a record of hockey rosters on its webpage. Here is 2012-2013, 2013-2014 and 2014-2015. As best I can tell, the “Hockey in the `Cac” blog is correct. Carmola and Erickson were on the roster in 2012/2013 and not in 2013/2014. Carmola is back on the roster this year. Erickson is not. According to the campus directory, Carmola is now a member of the class of 2018, i.e., this year’s freshmen class. There is no “Erickson” listed in the directory.

Want to be terrified about the power of big data? Check out the bottom of this Google search under “Searches related to Taylor Carmola”.

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A False Accusation of Rape

I have been looking for more details on a false accusation of rape and assault that was (allegedly) made by a Williams student several years ago. Back in 2005, Loweeel wrote:

A “fake rape” story actually happened during my sophomore year (IIRC, maybe it was my junior year). This girl STABBED herself in the thigh, and claimed that her off-campus boyfriend came in, raped her, and stabbed her.

Needless to say, the frantic and denunciatory emails flew from Hopkins as fast as a bullet from a mishandled firearm. Needless to say, they were about as accurate as well.

It turns out that (again, IIRC) she wanted attention from him after he broke up with her (and there was nothing about him doing it in any bad ways). Hopkins eventually admitted that it was a false alarm, and the girl withdrew for psychiatric reasons. Despite the fact that campus was turned upside down on this unsubstantiated accusation, there was never going to be any disciplinary proceeding initiated against her.

Can anyone provide more details? I have no interest in reporting this student’s name, but I would like to narrow down the date, link to any Record stories, provide copies of any all-campus e-mails and so on. What do you remember of this event?

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History of Campus (In)Civility

As the Willy E. N-Word incident continues to roil the campus, it may be helpful to step back and review some past incidents of incivility at Williams. EphBlog itself provides thorough coverage of Nigaleian, Barnard/VISTA, QBE and Mary Jane Hitler. (And, yes, we do need catchier names for Barbard/VISTA — perhaps ¿Quién es más macho? — and QBE. Suggestions are welcome. And we need fun graphics. So much to do . . .)

But today’s project is a survey of various Record articles from the past, articles that describe incidence of incivility — harassment, assault and worse — from the last decade. My goal is not to draw any specific lessons. Each incident is unique. Instead, I want our readers to better understand the history of this topic.

First, we have the trial and acquittal of Mark Foster. Second, this article on the conviction of Graham Lee for assault.

Williams College sophomore Graham Lee was found guilty of indecent assault and battery of another student at a trial held in Central Berkshire District Court last month.

Lee was sentenced to two years probation.

Lee’s lawyer, Charles W. Rankin of Rankin and Sultan in Boston, said last weekend that he intends to challenge the conviction, and has begun the steps to have a transcript of the trial prepared.

Lee is currently enrolled as a student at Williams College. The survivor is no longer enrolled at Williams College, Assistant District Attorney Kelly Mulcahy confirmed.

When asked if the College had taken disciplinary action against Lee, Dean of the College Peter Murphy said the Dean’s Office does not comment on the disciplinary status of individual students.

The incident first came to the attention of many members of the Williams College community when the Berkshire Eagle ran an article on February 12 reporting on the trial and conviction.

According to the Eagle article, Lee denied touching the female survivor in an inappropriate manner during a party at Tyler house on December 4, 1997.

He did admit that he consumed five shots of rum and one beer, and told the court that alcohol might “make him a little looser.”

According to the Eagle article, the survivor testified that Lee invited her to attend the party, and touched her on the buttocks, thigh and breasts at various points during the evening, despite her requests for him to stop.

The woman testified that Lee forced her to dance with him, pulled her down on the floor with him and followed her when she hid underneath a table.

Lee denied being under the table with his accuser, forcing her dance with him or touching her on the buttocks, thigh or breast.

The Eagle reported that District Court Judge James B. McElroy found Lee guilty of one count of indecent assault and battery on a person over 14 and one count of assault and battery.

Read the rest of the article for more details. An actual assault is much worse and more important than racist vandalism, at least in the eyes of the law, but I think that Stand With Us should consider the range of student behavior which it is trying to change.

Third is an article on homosexual harassment.
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Ashamed

I received this e-mail from a current Williams student. She gave me permission to print it here (anonymously) and was even surprised that I wrote back to her.

You don’t know me as we have never met, but I am a sophomore at Williams and recently discovered ephblog.com. After reading all of your comments on the Mark Foster/Maryl Gensheimer case, I have only this to say to you: You should be ashamed of yourself.

I don’t care what you have to say about the facts or the outcome of the case. Your response to the entire situation is truly shameful. I love everything about Williams College and would be hard-pressed to find something negative to say about it. You, Mr. Kane, made me feel ashamed of this school for the first time in my life. I resent the fact that we share this great school in common, because to me you represent everything that Williams is not.

I don’t know who you think you are, or what right you think you have that allows you to so readily judge the moral character of a man whom you do not know. I am also in no position to judge your own character, and won’t presume to be. What I can say with absolute certainty is that I despise the way you have handled yourself in this situation.

I would assume, or at least hope, that the motivation for your frequent blogs is a continuing interest in and love for your alma mater. If that is the case, and you truly care about this institution and its students, then do what is best for us all and find something more useful to write about. It is people like you that make it so difficult for our community to recover from incidences like these. No one has benefited from anything you have said, but many have been hurt.

In all honesty, I expected more from a Williams graduate. The extent of my disappointment you do not even know.

Heartfelt stuff. Strangely enough, I actually take more pride in my writings on this case than 99% of my other posts. If this doesn’t strike you as a balanced, honest and thoughtful account of the issues involved, than you should never bother with my drivel again. It won’t be getting any better, and most days it will be much worse.

Some of my other commentary has, at times, been edgier. See here and here.

I am sure that this young Eph believes that Foster is completely innocent, that he was unjustly accused by a vengeful and/or confused ex-girlfriend. And, she might be right! It is more than possible that Foster is completely innocent, that any of us viewing a videotape of the night in question would conclude that he did nothing wrong.

I do not think that this is likely, but it is certainly possible. I also believe that Gensheimer and her family/friends have a very different perspective on the matter.

So, I can understand why this Eph takes exception to me writing about the case, why she is infuriated with me for bringing this up time and again. I’d wager that she probably knows Foster (who will graduate this spring) and can’t believe that he deserves the appellation “accused rapist” for the rest of his life.

But her fury is not reason enough to end discussion and debate. Indeed, once Foster graduates it will be easier to ponder this case in all its messy reality. Sexual assault is a real problem, even at Williams. If you don’t want to know about it, don’t read EphBlog.

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Not Rape

Before it disappears from the web forever, it is worthwhile to review the Boston Globe article that publicized the most famous alleged sexual assault at Williams in the last 15 years. Previous coverage here. Comments:

1) I continue to believe that the College could do much more to decrease the (low) rate of sexual assault on campus. Unsurprisingly, my recommendation is unlike anything you would read elsewhere. Make every male student at Williams vividly aware of the Foster case by showing him a picture of Foster at his arraignment, perhaps even having the first years try on a pair of handcuffs. The lesson that every male Eph should have drilled deep into his bones is that having sex with a female Eph is a risk unless you are 100% certain that she is a full and eager participant. A credible accusation of rape — an accusation that will turn your life upside down for a decade or more even if you are (found) innocent — requires only a credible accuser. And all Eph women are credible. Foster didn’t think that it could happen to him. Foster was wrong. Don’t make the same mistake he did. If if Foster is not a rapist, he is most certainly not a gentleman. The punishment for caddish behavior at Williams is much higher than you think it is. Don’t be a cad.

2) Gensheimer graduated last spring and Foster is in his senior year. This has been a painful topic to discuss while they were current students. By next fall, it may be easier for the rest of us to get some perspective.

3) Is the transcript for the trial available somewhere? From the excerpts that we have seen, I suspect that it would make for compelling reading.

Article below:

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Foster ’05 Acquitted of Rape

From the Eagle:

Following 3 1/2 days of testimony, a Berkshire Superior Court judge yesterday acquitted a former Williams College student of raping a fellow student last year.

Superior Court Judge Margot Botsford said the differences in testimony from the defendant, 20-year-old Mark H. Foster Jr., and his accuser made it impossible for her to conclude beyond a reasonable doubt whether Foster was guilty. The trial was held before Botsford without a jury.

See here and here for previous EphBlog commentary on the case.

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Foster Case

We are coming up on the anniversary — if that is the right word — of the Mark Foster rape case. Here is an overview article. Here is the Record’s take.

Does anyone know what the current state of the case is?

Although factual correct, this Berkshire Eagle correction struck me as cheesy.

CORRECTION JUNE 19, 2003 An article in Tuesday’s paper headlined “Williams College student arraigned in rape case” incorrectly stated that suspect Mark H. Foster Jr. is a student at Williams College. He was a student when the alleged rape occurred on March 16 and completed the semester, but has not enrolled as a student for the next school year, according to Director of Public Affairs James Kolesar.

I know that Jim Kolesar has better things to do with his time.

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Take Back the Night (with this photo)

Although this blog has occasional suggested idiosyncratic views of how to decrease the rate of sexual assault on the Williams campus, I suspect that many observers might agree that plastering this picture all over campus might be a good way to start.

As this article in the Berkshire Eagle describes,

A Williams College student was arraigned in Berkshire Superior Court yesterday on one count of rape, stemming from an alleged assault on a fellow student this spring.

Mark H. Foster Jr., 19, of Concord, pleaded not guilty and was released on personal recognizance after a brief arraignment during which he was represented by Northampton attorney John Callahan.

Foster allegedly raped a fellow student in his dorm room after a night of drinking and dancing on the college campus March 16.

Foster is, of course, innocent until proven guilty, but even at this stage of the judicial process, he has paid a heavy price. We will have more to say about this case going forward, but I would wager a lot of money that making every male student at Williams aware of this case (and of the price that one might pay if one is less than certain that one’s sexual partner is anything less than an enthusiastic participant) would do much more to decrease rape on campus than all the sensitivity training and other awareness workshops that the college has put on in the last 10 years.

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