Check for cameras before you bed someone in the dorms: Video evidence is on the rise when students are accused of sexual assault.

The ABA Journal reports:

John Banzhaf, a law professor at George Washington University, researched dozens of cases of rape defendants successfully suing to repair their reputations, with evidence increasingly consisting of video introduced to show that the woman actively cooperated in the sexual encounters. “Changes in technology make video recording more effective and readily available,” Banzhaf explains. “It’s cheap, easy to hide, and the cameras shoot well in low light.”

Video evidence led to dropped gang-rape charges against two college students in New Mexico “after they turned over video of the reported victim giving lap dances in her underwear and grabbing a man’s crotch,” the Journal said.

Though surreptitious video recording in “nonpublic places” is illegal in California, where the “yes means yes” law just took effect and puts the onus for consent on the sex initiator, it’s

legal in a majority of states, provided the footage doesn’t contain audio (which can trigger wiretapping statutes), Banzhaf says. But, he adds, even if it were illegal, some men consciously decide that they’d rather be charged with the less serious crime of illegal video recording than felony rape.

Read the full Journal article here. For more from Professor Banzhaf, including the rise of hacking in response to rape accusations, see this press release.

Courtesy of feminist writers, two thoughtful critiques Monday of the notion of “affirmative consent” for sex – just enacted into California law governing colleges – and the new Good2Go sexual-consent app.

Laurie Esseg, a professor of sociology and gender studies at Middlebury College, writes in The Chronicle of Higher Education that “yes means yes” could primarily hurt minorities and the “dispossessed” because the criminal-justice system is already skewed against them:

The “yes means yes” campaign seems shockingly naïve about how law is actually enacted. Increasing the number of sexual acts that are criminal might seem like a good idea if laws were universally imposed, but they are not. Certain populations will be marked as guilty, and that has everything to do with race and class and little to do with justice. …

The law might target only those who have committed sexual assault, but after Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown and the Central Park Five, etc., it is difficult to imagine this happy ending.

There’s also the problem of “consent” interfering with “pleasure”:

In other words, what happens when people get pleasure from not saying yes? Can they consent to nonconsent? A person who wishes to be ravished by her or his lover without any affirmative consent falls into the irrationality that often is sexual desire, an irrationality that has less to do with contract law and more to do with how power can be eroticized.

Writing at Slate, the feminist “XX Factor” columnist Amanda Hess describes the hurdles of using the Good2Go app:

When I tried this process out with a partner, it took us four minutes to navigate through all the screens … I was confused, too: As the instigator, I wasn’t asked to confirm that I wanted to have sex or to state my own intoxication level for my partner’s consideration. …

“Good2Go” is obviously a euphemism for sexual activity, but it’s not clear what that means exactly—is it making out, oral sex, vaginal intercourse, or anal sex, and with protection or not? (I guess you could always pause, grab phones, and start the process over to consent to another specific sexual activity—but at some point, you’d actually have to verbally explain what you’re agreeing to be Good2Go4.)

Hess is actually more worried about the sexual activity log that Good2Go stores (“a dangerous new element”), and which can be released upon legal request, for the sake of rape victims:

That record may help the falsely accused, but it’s unlikely to aid a real victim. Good2Go may remind its users that consent can be revoked at any time, but there are still judges and juries that will take evidence that a person said “yes” to sex at one point, and conclude that they were asking for whatever happened later that night (or the next).

Read the full Chronicle article here and Slate article here.

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IMAGE: Good2Go screenshot

Over 160 students at Western Michigan University were interviewed for a “documentary theatre piece” titled “Check Your Privilege,” which premiered last week. The production was assisted in part via (the seemingly oxymoronic) “Kellogg Grant for Racial Healing.”

WMUK 102.1 FM reports:

Calvin College Professor of Theatre Stephanie Sandberg is the head director of the production. This is the type of theatre she’s known for. Six years ago, Sandberg helped WMU create a similar play called Seven Passages—the Stories of Gay Christians.

“It’s a kind of theatre where you’re bound by using only the words that people use to describe their experiences and their stories,” she says.

“So it’s theatre in the sense that you still have actors performing it. We’re not putting the actual people on stage. But it’s trying to get at this sense of truth in language and in story that brings about a kind of authenticity that you might get from fictional theatre, but not necessarily.”

Sandberg says Kalamazoo County has a 50 on the disparity index according to the census. That means about half of the white population in a Kalamazoo neighborhood would have to move to another part of the county in order to desegregate the area.

“And so I wasn’t surprised to hear that that reality was happening at the university as well,” says Sandberg. “Even though there’s things…we try to put measures in place that stop that, it’s just not happening. In the United States right now—today—we have a dissimilarity index that is worse than apartheid South Africa. We’ve got to do something about this. We have to do something about this.”

Sandberg notes that “because the play uses real interviews from Western Michigan University staff and students, the audience feels like they’re part of an honest, open discussion about race and privilege.”

Except, again, the title of the production is called “Check Your Privilege” which, as we all know, only applies to Caucasians.

Not to mention, the first speaker in the video below kind of gives away the deal when he says (white) students “aren’t aware of how they fit into this privileged scheme” and that the “the point of this play is to educate people …” (emphasis added).

Prof. Sandberg later in the same video notes that many other colleges would fit right in too because “what we’re dealing with is systemic discrimination.”

So, it’s not really an “honest, open discussion” as Prof. Sandberg had noted, is it? This production appears to be like many other supposedly “open, honest discussions” about race — actually about embracing a particular point of view.

And guess which view that might be?


Read more here.

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Contract negotiations have broken down between the University of South Florida and its staff union, The Oracle reports, in part because the union wants the school to pay for some of its activities.

The USF chapter of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, headed by President Susie Shannon, wants the same things the faculty union gets, but USF chief negotiator John Dickinson isn’t having it, 

specifically regarding allowing Shannon eight hours of her 40-hour workweek to focus on union business. 

“We’re just asking eight hours a week to resolve conflicts, not union business, not to organize, not to send out literature,” [union chief negotiator Hector] Ramos said. 

Dickinson said the university shouldn’t pay Shannon to handle union business on university time. 

This makes the universities pay, he said, for what unions typically pay for by using the revenue from union dues. Furthermore, USF is paying on AFSCME’s behalf, for the union to negotiate. 

The accusations are getting personal and stereotypical:

Dickinson said the university understands if AFSCME cannot afford proper representation, but revenue streams should be transparent to prove it. 

“We want to see how much of that revenue stream is going to Washington D.C. to pay for people who drive around in limousines or take charter flights, and are not being spent on this campus,” he said. 

Ramos said he disagreed with this characterization as malicious misrepresentation, and that revenue streams were publically [sic] available to university administration. 

There’s also a dispute over Internet access, of all things. The union wants some “existing clauses” from university rules and regulations to go in the staff contract, which the school says is redundant because union members can read that information “through the Internet.”

But Shannon said many staff members don’t have “readily-available Internet access,” according to The Oracle.

Um, don’t they work at a university?

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IMAGE: Pablo Ruiz Muzquiz/Flickr

Hallelujah – a college class worth singing its praises.

“Want to be an entrepreneur. There’s a class for that,” reports on the new class, offered this fall by Sam Altman, president of leading tech incubator Y Combinator. It’s run through Stanford this fall, but the lectures are available online, and college students across the nation will be viewing them.

“How to Start a Startup” … will be available to 300 Stanford engineering students, but video the classes also will be available on a dedicated website. Overall he expects around 20 videos that will provide more than 1,000 minutes of content. FacebookStartUpScreenshot

Altman himself will lead the first two lectures, but others will be led by such Valley luminaries as Peter Thiel, Marc Andreessen, Reid Hoffman, Marissa Mayer and Stripe’s Collison brothers.

“I believe that around 30% of what it takes to start a startup is generally applicable, which is what we’ll focus on teaching,” Altman explains. “The other 70% is more custom, but that 30% will give people a good start.”

According to the project’s website, the class promises “everything we know about how to start a startup, for free, from some of the world experts.”

Even more good news: Hundreds of universities are organizing groups to watch the videos together.

“We’ll cover how to come up with ideas and evaluate them, how to get users and grow, how to do sales and marketing, how to hire, how to raise money, company culture, operations and management, business strategy, and more,” the website states. “You can’t teach everything necessary to succeed in starting a company, but I suspect we can teach a surprising amount.”

Read more about the program.

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IMAGE: Main, Bart/Flickr; Inside: YouTubeScreenshot

Soothing allies who were afraid he would give in to pressure from civil liberties and men’s rights groups, California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) signed into law a bill that makes his state the first in the nation to require “affirmative consent” for sex on college campuses.

The Associated Press reported late Sunday that Brown, who had two days left to decide the fate of SB 967, had announced his signature.

Sponsoring Sen. Kevin de Leon (D-Los Angeles) praised Brown for not letting schools “sweet rape cases under the rug” and shifting “the conversation regarding sexual assault to one of prevention, justice, and healing.”

The AP notes that supporters in the Legislature have said the so-called “yes means yes” bill allows for “nonverbal” consent, despite its clear language that “silence or absence of resistance” does not equal consent. “Universities with similar policies have outlined examples as a nod of the head or moving in closer to the person” as recognized consent, AP said.

Supporters had been ramping up the pressure on Brown as recently as Friday. The chancellor of the California Community College system said in a press release from de Leon’s office that SB 967 will help his institution ensure “a safe and secure learning environment,” which is “an essential responsibility of our colleges,” joining the University of California and California State University systems in support.

The bill has no shortage of critics, including de Leon’s hometown paper. The Los Angeles Times editorial board wrote in May that “its language still seems both vague — what exactly would constitute an unambiguous sign of consent? — and unnecessarily intrusive.” It called for more education so that students aren’t “misinterpreting signals” in the heat of the moment.

One law professor said it would “very radically change the definition of rape” and open the door to lawsuits by having university administrators interpret vague cues and body language.

The bill also enshrines a low legal standard known as preponderance of the evidence into California law, removing some of the legal protections enjoyed by defendants in criminal courts. The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education has faulted the bill for requiring “continual reaffirmations of consent,” which shifts the burden of proof to the accused.

h/t greg

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