Columbia University

With just days left before California Gov. Jerry Brown signs (or vetoes) the state’s pioneering “yes means yes” sexual consent bill for colleges (SB 967), California students may be wondering how they can possibly prove after the fact that their sexual partners gave consent.

Enter Sandton Technologies, the developers of Good2Go (not to be confused with Washington state’s toll-pass program), a mobile application for Android and iOS platforms. Its Google Play page promises that it will make sure both of you give “affirmative consent” for each sexual encounter, and confirm that you can consent:

Good2Go App includes a sobriety questionnaire so that both parties know if affirmative consent can be granted. If the partner who is being asked if he or she is “Good2Go?” is too incapacitated, consent cannot be granted.

Reason‘s Robby Soave, a former College Fix colleague who earlier this year called for the creation of such a consent app, is singing the praises of Good2Go after playing with it. Sorry, Robby, but I’m going to burst your bubble:

This app is worse than nothing if you want to protect yourself from false allegations or miscommunications in the heat of the moment. Based on its promises, it could conceivably violate federal law as well.

One-Time Consent That’s Not ‘Legally Binding’

Let’s consider how the California bill is structured. It defines “affirmative consent” as

affirmative, conscious, and voluntary agreement to engage in sexual activity. … Affirmative consent must be ongoing throughout a sexual activity and can be revoked at any time. [emphasis added]

Since Good2Go uses traditional gender stereotypes of men initiating and women responding, I will too.


Good2Go asks for consent once – in theory, before a sexual encounter has started. Its FAQ page is careful to avoid legal language, telling users the app gives partners “a level of mutual understanding that is well beyond what often exists today” but is not “legally binding”:

No, the app facilitates communication, reduces misunderstandings, and indicates a level of sobriety. It encourages people to discuss what they want to do before they do it, but it is not a contract.

Signing off on the app does nothing to legally preempt a partner who changes her mind about consent from alleging she was assaulted.

This was the situation described by a student at Columbia University who claimed she was anally raped by a partner after starting a consensual sexual encounter. (For more on that case, which drew national attention, read our coverage.)

Who Decides Sobriety – Accuser or Accused?

Back to the California bill: Affirmative consent is not in play when the accused person’s “belief in affirmative consent arose from the intoxication or recklessness of the accused.”

Neither can affirmative consent apply if “the accused knew or reasonably should have known that the complainant was unable to consent to the sexual activity” because the accuser was “incapacitated due to the influence of drugs, alcohol, or medication, so that the complainant could not understand the fact, nature, or extent of the sexual activity.”

That’s a burden of proof that lies with the accused. Good2Go, by contrast, assigns the consent decision to the accuser.

good2go-intoxicated.screenshotAnd the app’s alcohol options are far from objective: “Sober,” “Mildly Intoxicated,” “Intoxicated but Good2Go” (?) and “Pretty Wasted.” Choosing “Pretty Wasted” is the only option that halts the consent process completely.

Considering that the app depends on each partner evaluating their own sobriety, this mechanism is far from reassuring as to judging a person’s ability to consent under the California bill.

This is the crux of the matter in a lawsuit against Occidental College in California for railroading a male student accused of rape. Court records show that his accuser went to great lengths to have sex with him, backed by her text messages, but because she couldn’t remember the encounter after the fact and a professor pressured her to file a complaint, the school contends she couldn’t legally consent – and that her partner should have known.

If public service announcements have taught us anything, it’s that “buzzed driving is drunk driving.” A person may get into a car and consider herself sober enough to safely drive, or get into a bed, click through an app and consider herself sober enough to have sex, and only after the fact decide that she wasn’t – perhaps after talking to friends or a Title IX official.

‘Good2Go’ to Accused, ‘Incapacitated’ to Administrator

Meanwhile, after the initiator approves the partner’s self-described state of intoxication on the app, the initiator has created a digital trail that identifies him as having had sex with a person who may be just shy of “Pretty Wasted,” whatever the hell that means.

This amounts to a confession of sexual assault, should the partner file a complaint and campus administrators (or a prosecutor) decide that the accuser who was self-described “Mildly” or “Good2Go” intoxicated was actually “Pretty Wasted” and unable to legally consent.

Remember – it’s meaningless that the partner herself indicated some appropriate level of intoxication on Good2Go. The bill clearly puts the onus on the initiator to decide if his partner is “incapacitated.” (And we know that students have different definitions of consent than the nation’s leading sexual-assault tutorial provider.)


Anyone who recalls how Internet companies have released reams of personal data to law enforcement on flimsy pretenses should be worried by this FAQ:

The details of any interaction stored on the Good2Go servers can only be released by the operators of Good2Go, and this will only be done when they determine that a proper request has been made by appropriate authorities, such as law enforcement or a university as part of an investigation. [emphasis added]

This could be a smoking gun if administrators want to quickly close a sexual-assault investigation, especially if there are no witnesses in the run-up to the sexual encounter: “Intoxicated but Good2Go” might as well mean “incapacitated.”

Put yourself in the shoes of the accused student in the Occidental case, who had a collection of affirmative text messages from an imminent sexual partner who was intoxicated but appeared to know exactly what she was doing.

Now ask if Good2Go’s sample scenario would have prevented the Occidental situation:

If she answers “Sober,” “Mildly Intoxicated,” or “Intoxicated but Good2Go” (anything other than “Pretty Wasted”), she will be asked to enter her phone number and the app will verify her identity. This process can bring clarity to the situation and help reduce the possibility of miscommunication. If a man does not receive a positive response, he should not start an encounter. [emphasis added]

This is the equivalent of a newspaper horoscope that reads in fine print at the bottom, “For entertainment purposes only.” The difference is the horoscope won’t get you expelled.

Unfair and Deceptive Trade Practices

App design is a hot issue at the Federal Trade Commission, which has started cracking down on companies that promise to keep user data private and secure but have “systemic” problems doing so.

The FTC claims that those baseless promises violate Section 5 of the FTC Act, which gives the agency the power to punish “unfair and deceptive” trade practices.

Good2Go doesn’t explain how it protects user data on its servers, but should hackers decide to have some fun with its database and expose a detailed list of who’s having sex on campus with whom and how often, Good2Go could find itself in trouble with the feds. Or California’s attorney general – Kamala Harris is known as a ball-buster in the app industry.

Did You Even Read the Bill?

What’s most troubling to me is that Good2Go’s maker is a strong backer of the “yes means yes” bill.

It promoted a Wednesday rally in Los Angeles in favor of the bill (supporters sound antsy that Gov. Brown might not sign it). And just like ride-sharing services, it’s trying to recruit “ambassadors” on campus to spread the gospel of checklist-aided sex.

Good2Go is also trying to rally libertarian support by citing Robby Soave’s credulous article from June that thinks a mobile app can solve the legal and political rigamarole that is “affirmative consent.” It’s a leading temptation of the smartphone age: We can solve anything with a mobile app!

But it’s not at all clear to me that Sandton Technologies actually read the bill as it was designing the app:

  • One-time consent mechanism
  • Laughably vague series of inebriation states
  • Consenting partner judges sobriety

Good2Go may slow down sex partners from lunging at each other – after all, they both have to log in to record consent and drunkishness – but it is beyond useless for California college students who find themselves in a disciplinary bind.

Students who have the slightest doubt about the competence and fairness of their campus administrators should avoid this app like … well, like Good2Go’s terms of service avoid liability for potentially ruining their lives.

Greg Piper is an assistant editor at The College Fix. (@GregPiper)

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IMAGES: Good2Go screenshots

According to one Columbia University professor, the United States’ effort to stop barbarians from slaughtering and beheading people in the name of Allah is the same as Russia invading and taking over a sovereign, Democratic country that is not currently killing people en masse.

As Young Conservatives reported via Truth Revolt:“Dr. Jeffrey Sachs, director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University, has officially lost it, claiming U.S. bombing ISIS is equivalent to Russia invading Ukraine.”

That he’s “lost it” is one way of putting it. But the truth is professors such as Sachs actually BELIEVE that the two actions are equivalent – and they teach students that, too.

Professor Sachs told Ronan Farrow on MSNBC that it’s all about a “power game” and that U.S. actions against ISIS break “international law.”

Says Sachs:

And in the Middle East, the United States is bombing. We’re engaged in operations to overthrow a government in Syria. And so the messages that are being sent by both these powers are this is a power game. The United States and its allies are going to do what they want to do militarily in the Middle East. Russia is going to do militarily in Ukraine. Each side stands for principle. Neither side is really respecting international law especially and each side is claiming the mantel of international law.

Watch the video:

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Columbia University student Emma Sulkowicz has a twofold purpose in carrying around her twin mattress everywhere on campus: It’s her senior thesis (performance art) and an attempt to shame the school into punishing her alleged rapist.

New York reports:

Sulkowicz is one of 23 students who are part of a federal Title IX complaint filed against Columbia in April for mishandling sexual-assault cases. Though she and two other students reported that the same student had assaulted them, all of their claims were swept under the rug, and the male student was not expelled from campus.

Sulkowicz said in a Time essay in May she was raped on her own bed during her sophomore year. She talks about her project in a Columbia Spectator video. (Sulkowicz actually had consensual sex twice before with her alleged rapist, according to the police report, noted in the Spectator’s original report.)

In a new interview with The Cut, the fashion site for New York, the student blames the media – the lawsuit and her performance art drew wide coverage –  for making her relive the horror of rape:

The reporter response has been really aggressive and not what I expected. It is a sensitive subject, and I can’t be accosted in the middle of campus to talk about it. One guy, while I was carrying the mattress, he just opened up my backpack and threw his business card in, which was a real violation of my space and made me really upset and triggered a lot of memories of being raped.

Yesterday was really stressful because of the reporters on campus. I had a class at 8:40, so my boyfriend helped me carry the mattress to class — we slid it along the sidewall so it wasn’t distracting. Then my next class was at 2 p.m. and that was when two news stations started following me and taking pictures of me. I finally got to class and the people waited outside. I received an email from one reporter, “Subject line: Mattress Girl. Content: I have her contact info and I am going to get her.” I didn’t know that he was a reporter at first so I thought I was going to die, and so I was so scared and really fearing for my life. My boyfriend came and picked me up because I was so afraid of the reporters. [emphasis added]

As dumb as that reporter’s email phrasing was, it’s a little hard to take Sulkowicz’s media criticism seriously when she acknowledges the point of performance art:

I thought about how I was raped in my own bed at Columbia; and how the mattress represents a private place where a lot of your intimate life happens; and how I have brought my life out in front for the public to see; and the act of bringing something private and intimate out into the public mirrors the way my life has been. Also the mattress as a burden, because of what has happened there, that has turned my own relationship with my bed into something fraught. [emphasis added]

Sulkowicz has revealing thoughts about the police investigation into the alleged rape and why she’s not pursuing criminal charges or a civil suit. She also criticizes Columbia’s new sexual-assault policy, which as noted by The College Fix allows both parties to retain lawyers and seeks judges to serve on hearing panels:

Columbia just released a new policy, but in the new Columbia policy it is even harder than it was before to try a serial rapist, and have him expelled. Now they have explicitly stated that each case will be treated separately until the first one has closed. If one person rapes three girls in one night, those girls won’t be able to testify at each other’s cases, the way it currently stands. That to me is really sickening. 

She’d still rather have the school lead rape investigations than law enforcement:

The police don’t seem very well equipped either. It is going to take an administration that is willing to admit that they have done wrong, and make real tangible changes. I think administrations are actually in a better place to make these changes than the police right now. …

I feel like it would take that much longer for [the police to] change, but the universities are filled with people who are progressive thinkers, and who can come up with creative strategies to solve these problems. We have so many intelligent students who think about and care about this issue way more than any of the administration. [emphasis added]

Read the full Cut interview here, and earlier New York article here.

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IMAGE: YouTube screenshot

Columbia University student radicals published an activist manifesto for the new school year that declared capitalism is “responsible for countless wars, endless poverty, and mass exploitation and oppression for the sake of profit.”

The manifesto goes on to note that capitalism ultimately establishes and encourages “racist, sexist, classist and homophobic conditions.”

But it’s communism/socialism that is responsible for countless deaths – 100 million murdered and counting!

And endless poverty? Have they checked out Venezuela lately – depleted of its resources and suffering from a stagnant economy, horrific crime, and extreme poverty thanks to its embrace of socialism.

And don’t get me started on that mass exploitation and oppression bit. To suggest socialism is less exploitative and oppressive than capitalism is to ignore history and shun reality.ObamaChavez.Templar1307.Flickr

But this idiocy isn’t just at the Ivy League schools. An event tonight at the University of Texas aims to recruit students to the International Socialist Organization.

“Capitalism has failed humanity,” the invite states. “It is a system based on profit rather than human need, and time and time again, this has led to war, poverty, racism, and environmental catastrophe.”

“Socialism is the alternative, and the International Socialist Organization is committed to fighting for that,” it adds. “Every poll on the subject shows that a majority of young people are in favor of this alternative. We have the chance to send capitalism and all its destruction into the annals of history.”

If only we could brush this off as youthful ignorance. But no, these students are pushing an agenda that could destroy the country, and it’s promulgated by their leftist professors first and foremost.

A professor at the most recent and infamous White Privilege Conference declared that capitalism causes racism and she wants to see a revolution. And a survey last year by The College Fix of 31 public and private universities across the nation found that the subject of capitalism is often either maligned, ignored, or taught from a perspective other than objective economics.

“It’s not shocking that we are seeing a rise of support for socialism and ‘socialist policies’ across campuses nationwide, seeing as many professors bring their viewpoints and opinions into the classroom,” said Ashley Pratte, spokeswoman for Young America’s Foundation, in an email interview with The College Fix on Tuesday.

“We have heard from many students that professors condemn capitalism as ‘greedy and selfish’ and that collectivism has always positively helped people,” Pratte said. “Our students are being indoctrinated at many colleges and are learning that capitalism works to the detriment of society.”

But is this passion for communism just misplaced youthful ignorance, or something more insidious?

“I don’t think that this is an example of a current trend which shows that young people distrust big government—I think this is a direct result of revisionist history being taught in the classroom,” Pratte said. “We have often heard that in economics classes students are learning more about the benefits of Marxist policies rather than the work of Friedman or Hayek.”

Indeed, the College Fix survey backs that up, too.

Of the universities that did offer a class on capitalism, the survey found, they were often either: negative in tone; focused on capitalism in countries other than the United States; or were takes on the economic system from perspectives other than a business one, such as through the lenses of the humanities.

Some of the most egregious examples of a slanted look at capitalism included:

Magical Money and Enchanted Capitalism, a Religion course at Wesleyan University
Global Capitalism Racial Society, an Afroamerican and African Studies class at University of Michigan
Markets, Morality and the Future of Capitalism, a Philosophy course at the University of Pennsylvania
Poverty under Post Industrial Capitalism, a joint Economics and African American Studies course at Yale University

Thankfully, brave students involved in groups such as Young America’s Foundation take a stand against such biases on campus. YAF’s Freedom Week and No More Che Day expose the evils of communism through tabling, posters, speakers and similar outreach.

During Freedom Week, students construct mock Berlin Walls and celebrate the anniversary of the fall of communism, for example.

“Socialism isn’t cool, socialism restricts freedom,” Pratte said. “Many students have yet to hear that communism and communist regimes committed horrible atrocities that led to the murder of many innocent people. These communist leaders are not ones to be emulated.”poster

Thankfully, there are also a few professors out there who do still teach the truth, most notably, Professor Simon Bilo, who can speak to the many shortfalls of socialism because he was raised under such a regime.

Bilo says “socialist countries had a very inefficient set of social institutions which impoverished their citizens.”

“Without the ability to keep the benefits of their efforts, people do not have the incentives to be entrepreneurial and to work hard,” he told The College Fix earlier this year.

The lack of appropriate incentives and the lack of information, Bilo says, “jointly lead to high economic inefficiencies in the socialist countries,” and eventually led to the downfall of socialism in Eastern Europe.

Jennifer Kabbany is editor of The College Fix ( follow Jenn on Twitter: @JenniferKabbany )

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Via Bwog: Activist groups at Columbia University have created a new “Disorientation Guide,” in order to “inform new students about activist and left-wing issues surrounding the university.”

Some of the topics included within:

  • Columbia: A Brief (Colonialist) History
  • Smiles and Lies: Tips for Dealing with your Administration
  • Columbia, Capitalism and You
  • Student Worker Solidarity
  • The Perks of a Hostile Environment: Students for Justice in Palestine
  • On “Leaning In” and Corporate Feminism
  • Womanhood and Women’s Colleges: The Trans* Reality at Barnard
  • Divest for Climate Justice

Bwog notes that there have been previous guides created in 2000 and 2002, but this current edition “includes more about history than the previous guides,” and features “several perspectives on the core curriculum, and warnings about ‘corporate feminism.'”

Perhaps most notably, the 2014 version “takes a more oppositional approach” towards the college’s administration, stating (among other things) “Administrators are not your friends … ever …”

Read the full guide here.

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Columbia University’s new “gender-based misconduct policy” and associated procedures for responding to campus sexual-assault allegations have garnered criticism from a coalition of victim advocacy groups.

The groups claim they were not consulted during the revision process despite their efforts for at least a year pushing the university to alter how it responds to sexual assault.

The revised policy stands out for allowing both accuser and accused to retain advisers such as lawyers, and for seeking to get people with “relevant legal training” – such as judges – to serve on hearing panels.

The Huffington Post reported that “a small collection of students” met with the university president’s special adviser in early August and was “informed a new policy would be unveiled” that same week. “Students were not given copies of the policy and not provided an opportunity to give feedback.”

rapeGroups “submitted pages of policy proposals … made pleas for reform on national television and the front pages of newspapers,” said No Red Tape Columbia, the Coalition Against Sexual Violence, Columbia Alumni Allied Against Sexual Assault, Title IX Team and Take Back The Night of Barnard College in a statement published in the Columbia Spectator.

“We have repeatedly requested meetings with top administrators,” yet all such efforts “have been rejected or ignored,” they said.

The changes to the policy are “largely an effort to ensure their baseline compliance with the recently enacted” Campus Sexual Violence Elimination Act and Department of Education regulations, the group said, but “does not reflect students’ needs, and changes made are not adequate to ensure student safety.”

Most of the changes to the policy modify the previous adjudication and sanctioning processes for sexual assault cases.

One of the most notable changes is the removal of students from hearing panels, which were previously comprised of one student and two university officials.

Under the new rules, panels “will generally have three members drawn from a small group of specially-trained University student affairs administrators,” and “in certain matters, the University may include retired judges, lawyers or other individuals with relevant experience and special training.”

Another new stipulation allows for both the victim and alleged assailant to choose an adviser, which can even be an attorney, to “support the student and provide advice about the investigation and disciplinary process.”

The renamed Gender-Based Misconduct Office gets several new positions under the revision: three case managers “who will serve as a neutral point person for both complainants and respondents throughout the adjudication process”;  six new staff positions in the Office of Sexual Violence Response;  and two more Title IX investigators, for four total, according to the Spectator.

One thing that remains unchanged is the “preponderance of evidence” standard of proof that hearing panels use to determine violations. This means an alleged assailant can be found responsible if the hearing panel is “convinced based on the information it considers that the respondent was more likely than not to have engaged in the conduct at issue.”

The coalition’s letter in the Spectator, among other things, faults the lack of “clear or useful sanctioning guidelines” in the new procedures, failure to “sufficiently improve the training for staff members who interact with survivors,” and the decision to leave appeals “in the hands of Deans with no expertise, inadequate training, and a clear bias.”

columbia-commencement.llee_wu.flickrVarious student groups have been pushing Columbia to revise how the university deals with sexual assault allegations at least since October, when the Columbia Democrats circulated a petition calling for the release of anonymous, aggregated campus sexual assault statistics.

Initially, officials from the university refused to disclose the statistics, but ultimately reversed its decision in January under pressure from students and the advocacy groups.

The Student Action Committee of Columbia University issued a statement in January requesting the university “clarify and initiate any needed reforms to the adjudication process within the Office of Gender-Based Misconduct,” and the university agreed to a town hall on March 14 with the advocacy groups, students, faculty and administrators.

Further, in April, a group of 23 Columbia and Barnard students jointly filed a federal complaint against the university for violating Title IX, Title II and the Clery Act.

Despite these allegations, Columbia is not one of the 72 universities and colleges currently being investigated by the Department of Education, according to statistics released to The College Fix.

The new policy notes that student groups “may provide additional input throughout the coming academic year.”

The Columbia policy follows a bevy of recent federal legislation addressing sexual-assault investigations on campus, most prominently the bipartisan Campus Accountability and Safety Act , as The College Fix has reported.

Critics of the legislation, such as the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, argue that the bill does not protect due process rights of alleged sexual assaulters or provide them with equal resources as victims of alleged sexual violence.

College Fix contributor Julianne Stanford is a student at the University of Arizona.

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IMAGES: Ville Miettinen/Flickr, llee_wu/Flickr