The topic of rape on college campuses is all over the media recently. There are two opposing views out there at the moment, generally speaking. The first view is that rape isn’t as big of a problem as it is sometimes made out to be, instead statistics are inflated and confused by the ambiguities of “drunk sex” and the sex-with–near-strangers norm of the college hookup culture, and, in some cases, hyped, up by politically-motivated feminists who show little concern for the due process rights of young men who may be falsely accused. The second view is that there is an epidemic of rape on campus and that victims are often denied justice, criminals walk away free, while an indifferent society ends up blaming the victims.

Both of these views, opposite though they may be, have an element of truth in them. As someone who has written quite a bit about sexual assault on campus and about the college sexual culture  in general, I often find myself caught in the middle between these two sides, which too often seem to take an all-or-nothing approach to the argument. Feminists, for example, are almost never willing to admit something as simple as the fact that when two people get drunk, consent can become a much more murky question by the time the two wake up the next morning. Conservatives, on the other hand, sometimes sound as if they believe rape almost never happens on campus.

The truth of the matter, I believe, lies between these two extremes. Rape is startlingly common on college campuses and rapists do get away with their crimes far too often. But on-campus rape is made more prevalent by the rampant abuse of inhibition-lowering alcohol, and by the fact that the modern hookup culture has radically transformed sexual expectations among casual acquaintances–two factors that do a lot to muddy the lines of sexual consent. Anyone who points this out is at risk of being castigated for “blaming the victim.”

I think both sides of this debate could benefit from thinking more deeply about the other side. For the rabid feminists out there, I recommend a thoughtful reading of Heather Mac Donald’s recent essay exposing some of the fallacies of the feminist side:

The campus rape movement highlights the current condition of radical feminism, from its self-indulgent bathos to its embrace of ever more vulnerable female victimhood. But the movement is an even more important barometer of academia itself. In a delicious historical irony, the baby boomers who dismantled the university’s intellectual architecture in favor of unbridled sex and protest have now bureaucratized both. While women’s studies professors bang pots and blow whistles at antirape rallies, in the dorm next door, freshman counselors and deans pass out tips for better orgasms and the use of sex toys. The academic bureaucracy is roomy enough to sponsor both the dour antimale feminism of the college rape movement and the promiscuous hookup culture of student life. The only thing that doesn’t fit into the university’s new commitments is serious scholarly purpose.

The campus rape industry’s central tenet is that one-quarter of all college girls will be raped or be the targets of attempted rape by the end of their college years (completed rapes outnumbering attempted rapes by a ratio of about three to two). The girls’ assailants are not terrifying strangers grabbing them in dark alleys but the guys sitting next to them in class or at the cafeteria…

If the one-in-four statistic is correct—it is sometimes modified to “one-in-five to one-in-four”—campus rape represents a crime wave of unprecedented proportions. No crime, much less one as serious as rape, has a victimization rate remotely approaching 20 or 25 percent, even over many years. The 2006 violent crime rate in Detroit, one of the most violent cities in America, was 2,400 murders, rapes, robberies, and aggravated assaults per 100,000 inhabitants—a rate of 2.4 percent. The one-in-four statistic would mean that every year, millions of young women graduate who have suffered the most terrifying assault, short of murder, that a woman can experience. Such a crime wave would require nothing less than a state of emergency—Take Back the Night rallies and 24-hour hotlines would hardly be adequate to counter this tsunami of sexual violence. Admissions policies letting in tens of thousands of vicious criminals would require a complete revision, perhaps banning boys entirely. The nation’s nearly 10 million female undergrads would need to take the most stringent safety precautions. Certainly, they would have to alter their sexual behavior radically to avoid falling prey to the rape epidemic.

None of this crisis response occurs, of course—because the crisis doesn’t exist. During the 1980s, feminist researchers committed to the rape-culture theory had discovered that asking women directly if they had been raped yielded disappointing results—very few women said that they had been. SoMs. commissioned University of Arizona public health professor Mary Koss to develop a different way of measuring the prevalence of rape. Rather than asking female students about rape per se, Koss asked them if they had experienced actions that she then classified as rape. Koss’s method produced the 25 percent rate, which Ms. then published…

I recommend that everyone read Mac Donald’s article in full over at City Journal.

For skeptics, who may be tempted to dismiss all talk of a college “rape culture” as nonsense–just another example of identity politics-loving feminists seeking power with an onslaught of victimhood rhetoric–I would ask you to take your blinders off and look at the reality of rape on campus today. It is a problem, perhaps even an epidemic (although Mac Donald would surely disagree with that term). And an essay in NY Mag by Amanda Ruggeri, entitled “I Was Raped, and I Stayed Silent,” offers a poignant example:

The first part of the evening was clear. I had started the night by meeting a friend, whom I’ll call T., her boyfriend, and his friend in their college’s rec room; we’d each had a single beer and played a couple of games of pool. We left for a good friend’s get-together, where I drank a margarita (not very strong). An hour or so later, we headed to another party, in a neo-Gothic building overlooking the freshman quad. It was February 2005, the snow on the courtyard was two feet deep, and our breath puffed out in curls. We didn’t know anyone at the party, but at Yale, that never seemed to matter; everyone was safe, and everyone was welcoming. When we walked in, the rooms were already crowded with people laughing, talking, dancing. A guy offered my friend and me shots. We assumed he was the host. For both of us, it was the third drink of the night.

From there, my memory runs like a strobe light: blackness, with the occasional moment lit up. Dancing. Making out with T. on a flight of stairs. Falling down them. (I had the bruises and cuts for two weeks; the scars took five years to fade.) And then, suddenly, I remember nothing — except for a single moment, lit up like the pop of a flashbulb…

Read Ruggeri’s full essay here. She and I overlapped for a short time at Yale. Although I don’t recall ever having met her, her story mirrors every other rape story I’ve ever heard from my college days–the alleged perpetrator is a casual acquaintance, not a stranger, not a boyfriend. Alcohol was involved. In this case, she suspects, she was drugged. Oftentimes though, copious alcohol consumption is enough to set up precisely the same scenario.  And, finally, there’s the fact that she didn’t go to the police and only went to some designated campus adviser. That’s also typical, in my experience.

I think it is important for anyone who steps out to criticize (often with good reason) the exaggerations and extremes of the feminist crusade against “rape culture” to realize that stories like Ruggeris are very common on a typical Friday night on American college campuses. Sure it’s just anecdotal evidence. But I’ve heard too many of these stories to believe this is a rare scenario. And while it is fair to criticize the feminist movement for it’s part in destroying the sexual morals that once helped protect women from precisely the kinds of situations that increase their odds of being raped, it isn’t necessary or right to pretend that these rapes aren’t happening.

Just imagine if Ruggeri was your daughter or sister or mother. And then understand that what she says happened to hear is happening to far too many young women. You don’t have to buy into the feminist hyperbole about “rape culture” to realize there is an element of truth to what feminists are saying, even if feminists are as much a part of the problem as anyone. If there is a “rape culture” feminists have quite a bit to help create it by demonizing the institution of marriage among the young, praising the alcohol-fueld hookup culture for its ability help prevent young women from having their careers derailed by love, and by making the casting off of sexual restraint as a chief goal of women’s liberation.

In the end, none of the valid criticisms of feminism out there should keep us from recognizing that the modern campus sexual culture, the “hookup” culture, in other words, is a kind of “rape culture” at least in the sense the the ingredients that make rape more likely (coupling of casual acquaintances, extreme prevalence of inhibition-lowering alcohol abuse) are fundamental to modern sexual culture on campus in a way they weren’t two decades ago. But this so-called “rape culture” isn’t the product of rampant misogyny in our culture, as the feminist movement would have you believe. Instead, it is the natural consequence of our society’s rejection of sexual restraint in favor of an anything-goes-so-long-as-it-is-consensual moral system. We shouldn’t be surprised that the “consensual” part of that system gets thrown out so easily now that the norms of sexual behavior have been so lowered that sex between near strangers is seen as a likely possibility on a typical alcohol-drenched college campus. Or we shouldn’t be surprised, at least, that the lines of consent get blurry somewhere between the first drink, the fifth drink, another few drinks, the make-out session in the near-stranger’s dorm room, and the eventual blackout.

That’s the reality of the modern campus hookup culture.

Little did feminists realize, when they destroyed the moral restraints that they believed were restricting women, that they would also destroy the moral restraints that helped protect women. “Rape culture,” if you want to use that term, is a natural consequence of sexual liberation’s culminating triumph–the college hookup culture. That doesn’t make rapists any less responsible for their crimes, it just means that their crimes are much easier to carry out and get away with now.

Nathan Harden is editor of The College Fix and author of the book SEX & GOD AT YALE: Porn, Political Correctness, and a Good Education Gone Bad.

Follow Nathan on Twitter @NathanHarden



CNN reports:

And the winner is … Yale.

That was the selection made Wednesday by Kwasi Enin, the New York high school student accepted by the eight Ivy League schools — Harvard, Yale, Brown, Columbia, University of Pennsylvania, Dartmouth, Princeton and Cornell.

He made his pick in style, staging a news conference in the gym of William Floyd High School and delivering the big announcement before teachers and members of the media.

A visit to the New Haven, Connecticut, campus helped him decide.

“My Bull Dog Days experience last week was incredible,” he said. “I met geniuses from all across the world. And everyone there was so friendly and inviting. … And I believe that their deep appreciation and love for music, like I have, was very critical for me deciding to go there.”

Read more.

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The New Haven Register reports:

Frances Chan says she’s done stuffing her face with ice cream and Cheetos just to make Yale University happy. After months of wrangling, the university finally agrees.

The 20-year-old history major has spent the past few months sparring with Yale’s health center over her low weight. Chan is 5’2” and 92 lbs., and Yale doctors were concerned her health was severely at risk.

She contended that she’s always been very thin, as were her parents and grandparents at her age.

Yet until Friday, Yale had been telling Chan she might be forced to leave school if she didn’t put on some pounds…

Read More.

(Via Drudge)


The Yale Daily News reports an unusual development in the lawsuit surrounding the 2011 tailgating accident at the Harvard-Yale football game, which resulted in two serious injuries and one death, after a member of the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity lost control of a U-Haul truck and struck three female pedestrians.

Thirty-year-old Nancy Barry, of Salem, Mass., was killed in November 2011 when a U-Haul truck driven by Brendan Ross ’13 — heading toward the tailgate area assigned to the fraternity at the Yale Bowl — accelerated and swerved out of control. Sarah Short SOM ’13 and Harvard employee Elizabeth Dernbach were also injured.

Last month, Short and Barry’s estate filed new suits, identical but separate, individually naming all the students who were members of the Yale chapter of the fraternity at the time of the crash, regardless of whether or not they were present at the tailgate. With Short’s medical expenses exceeding $300,000, Short’s attorney Joel Faxon said he expects a jury to award a sum to Short reaching into seven figures. Paul Edwards, who represents Barry’s estate, said he is looking to recover several million dollars over the death.

The new lawsuit, filed in Connecticut Superior Court in New Haven, is a result of a unique relationship between the national Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity and the local Yale chapter.

According to Faxon, although Short initially sued the national Sig Ep fraternity in 2012, National Sigma Phi Epsilon Director of Risk Management Kathy Johnston said in a deposition that, legally, the local chapter and national association have nothing to do with each other. Furthermore, the national fraternity’s insurance — Liberty Mutual of Boston — does not cover actions by the local chapter, leading Short to sue the local chapter itself.

“[The national fraternity and its insurance], to try to save money, are trying to distance themselves from the case,” Faxon said. “[The local chapter] has been thrown under the bus … by the national fraternity, so the only remedy that our client has is to sue the local fraternity.”

Faxon said that in his 20 years of litigation, he has never seen such an arrangement, as national fraternities typically come to the aid of their local chapters. Because of Connecticut law, which defines the chapter as a voluntary association, the chapter can only be sued by way of its individual members…

To attempt to hold liable individual members of the fraternity who were not even present at the tailgate seems a stretch, legally and morally speaking.

We will continue to report the latest as this case develops.

Full story here.

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Do you know who is hacking into your email account? Maybe a better question would be–Who isn’t these days?

Obama and the NSA are doing it. Harvard got caught doing it. And today I can report that Yale University is doing it too.

Yale officials have claimed the right to search student email accounts without notice or consent, according to a report in the Yale Daily News. According to a survey conducted by the Daily News, only 3 out of 73 students were aware that the university had the claimed the power to access their private university email accounts.

According to the Yale administration, reading student email accounts may be done for such vague reasons as complying with  “federal, state, or local law or administrative rules,” or whenever “there are reasonable grounds to believe that a violation of law or a significant breach of University policy may have taken place.”

The Daily News reports that the right to probe student email accounts is “outlined in a publicly available but little-publicized document,” entitled “University’s Information Technology Acceptable Use Policy.”

Judging from the broad and vaguely-defined causes for search outlined in the statement, it might as well be called the “We Can Read any Email You Send or Receive any Time We Want Policy.”

The policy not only allows for search anytime officials suspect you have breached university policy, but it promises full access for government officials–not just the feds, but for state or even local government officials.

Who would have imagined that a local police department could have access to the private emails of students under their jurisdiction without notice or consent? Could that actually happen? Has it happened? It’s hard to say for sure, but the snooping powers outlined in the university policy are so broad that it’s impossible to rule out.

In the year 2013, America has awakened to the reality of the surveillance state we live in. Every phone call, every email–private conversations we might have assumed could not be accessed without a warrant in the past. We now know that at any time the government could be, and probably is, listening and recording every word.

And gradually we have come to realize that the culture of surveillance doesn’t end there. In fact employers increasingly claim the right to read employee emails. And even our nation’s elite colleges and universities, premised as they are on the lofty principles of free speech and academic freedom, no longer respect the privacy of their own students.

Without a reasonable expectation of privacy, free speech is a sham. You can say whatever you want–sure. So long as you don’t mind someone listening in or reading over your digital shoulder.

In claiming the power to read student emails, Yale has shown that it values its own power and interests above the interests and freedoms of its students.

Nathan Harden is editor of The College Fix and author of the book SEX & GOD AT YALE: Porn, Political Correctness, and a Good Education Gone Bad.

Follow Nathan on Twitter @NathanHarden

(Image: amysphere.flickr)

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Did you know that some Harvard students feel dumb, and that they feel sooooo badly about themselves because of it? Neither did I, but that’s the premise of a recent article published by the Harvard Crimson–a student newspaper at that lofty, storied campus.

The article identifies a problem: Namely, because Harvard students are surrounded by so many smart people, they feel dumb. Citing a recent campus visit by author Malcolm Gladwell, the article spells it out this way: “If you’re last in your class at Harvard, it doesn’t feel like you’re a good student, even though you really are.”

Poor Harvard students, feeling dumb precisely because they are so smart! That must be hard.

The article then identifies a number of solutions for Harvard students who feel dumb and badly about themselves. According to the recommendations put forward in article, if you are a Harvard student who needs to improve your self esteem, you should take the following steps:

Step 1.) Buy yourself a new pair of shoes.

Step 2.) Watch a Miley Cyrus video on YouTube. (I’m not making these up, I promise.)

Step 3.) Look at old photos on Facebook.

Step 4.) Don’t look at Facebook. (Steps 3 & 4 were offered successively and, apparently, without irony.)

Step 5.) “Vent” your feelings to a close friend or, even better, “a dining hall worker.” (Venting at the hired help is a great emotional outlet for the elite ruling class!)

Step 6.) Remember that you were “chosen” to be at Harvard because you were “special enough” to stand out from everyone else.

Again, I remind you, these recommendations were intended for students with low self-esteem, not too much self-esteem, as you might assume from reading step number 6.

I hope any Harvard students out there who happen to be reading this article and feeling all-around lousy about themselves will find these tips helpful. Boosting delicate Harvard egos is, after all, a difficult task.

Oh, Harvard! There is a light at the end of your solipsistic darkness! A beacon shining through the misty cloud of fear and self-doubt! Above all, there is hope! Feeling dumb at Harvard is a problem from which you can be delivered! (With help from Miley Cyrus.)

There were a few other recommendations, but you’ll have to go check out the article yourself to see them all. I can’t write anymore today because I just now realized that I’m not “special enough” to have been “chosen” to be a Harvard student, and I simply feel awful about myself now as a result. Awful, I say.

Excuse me while I go look for a dining hall worker. I feel the need to vent…

Nathan Harden is editor of The College Fix and author of the book SEX & GOD AT YALE: Porn, Political Correctness, and a Good Education Gone Bad.

Follow Nathan on Twitter @NathanHarden