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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.


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 TC and ME, 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. TC and ME were on the roster in 2012/2013 and not in 2013/2014. TC is back on the roster this year. ME is not. According to the campus directory, TC is now a member of the class of 2018, i.e., this year’s freshmen class. There is no ME listed in the directory.

Want to be terrified about the power of big data? Look what appears in related Google searches . . .

UPDATE: Edited at request.


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?


Visibly Shaken

Did you have a tough Valentine’s Day? Consider yourself lucky. Tracy McIntosh ’75 and his family had it worse.

Former Neurosurgery professor Tracy McIntosh was sentenced to 3 1/2 to seven years in prison yesterday for the 2002 sexual assault of his college roommate’s niece.

Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas Judge Pamela Pryor Dembe delivered McIntosh’s court-ordered new punishment, after his original sentence of 11 1/2 to 23 months of house arrest was vacated by the state Superior and Supreme courts.

Dembe admitted to struggling with the decision.

“Mr. McIntosh is not a monster; no one is,” she said. “I have wrestled with this decision.”

But Dembe was ultimately unswayed by McIntosh’s plea for a lenient sentence as a reward for having been a model citizen before the assault and having complied with all court provisions since 2002. McIntosh, 54, pleaded no-contest to the assault in December 2004.

McIntosh’s wife appeared visibly shaken as her husband was led out of the courtroom yesterday.

Whose heart is so hardened that it does not go out to Mrs. McIntosh, mother of two daughters and steadfast wife to a troubled man?

The relevance of McIntosh’s behavior to EphBlog, besides being a sad commentary of the human condition, All Things Eph division, is that it highlights the danger of men in positions of authority seeking sex from women over whom they hold some measure of power. See our previous coverage of this sad case. No one but McIntosh and his victim can know what happened that night. But perhaps we can all agree that a married man should not, when asked by his college roommate to give a women two decades his junior a tour of campus, seek to get her drunk and sleep with her.

How does this lesson apply to Williams? JAs should not date first years, especially not first years in their entries. There is already a norm against this practice. That norm should be strengthened. How? Just ask JA applicants if they would ever, under any circumstances, date a first year. Recognizing the politically correct answer when being interviewed by members of the JA Selection Committee, they will reply “No.”

Consider the (typical) case of male JA and female first year. If a JA does become romantically involved with a first year, remove him. No smirch will be placed in his permanent record. He and his first year friend can continue on with their relationship. But this JA leaves the entry and is replaced by someone on the waiting list. Williams turns down dozens of amazing JA applicants each year. No one is irreplaceable.

The problem is not so much that their relationship will be an unhealthy one. Some will, some won’t. Nor is the problem that such a JA is abusing his position of authority, just as McIntosh abused his. The problem with McIntosh started well before the rape. The problem started when he sought a sexual relationship with someone who had been put in contact with him because of his position of authority. If McIntosh were just cruising the party scene, that would be one thing. There is nothing wrong with juniors seeking/dating first years. But the typical JA/freshman romance would not have happened if the JA were just a regular junior, just as McIntosh would not have been in contact with this women were he not a professor at her future school.

But even if a JA is dating an emotionally mature first year, someone he would have met anyway because they were on the same team or in the same classes, there is still a problem. By dating this woman, he degrades his relationship with the (other) women in his entry. If he dates first years, why doesn’t he date them? Why doesn’t he ask them out? Is he about to ask them out? If I go to him with a personal question, will he use our relationship as an excuse to hit on me?

A JA who does not date first years is much more likely to be a constructive and healthy force in the lives of his first years than a JA who does date them. So, let’s get rid of the latter.

For background, see the debate we had three years ago on this topic. Thinks that this isn’t a problem? Consider this discussion. Two participants (David R and Loweeel) are discussing a JA who dated two first years, both from his own entry. We all assumed that they were talking about the same person. How many miscreants could there be in the JA ranks? Turns out they weren’t.

Isn’t there something wrong with a system with allows/encourages a JA to date multiple first years?

More McIntosh news coverage below.

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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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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 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.


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.


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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