by Betsy McCaughey | May 27, 2015 1:31 am
Emma Sulkowicz graduated from Columbia College in New York City last week, lugging her mattress under one arm as she reached for her degree with the other. Some classmates cheered for Sulkowicz, the self-proclaimed poster woman against sexual assault who carries around the mattress on which she was allegedly raped.
Never mind that her charges against a male classmate didn’t stick, even under Columbia’s kangaroo court standards. Democrats across the country are embracing Sulkowicz and her cause, making college a hostile environment for young men.
Politicians are pushing for state and federal legislation that would require “affirmative consent” at each step of the way when two college students have sexual contact. Nobody wants sexual violence, but these proposals criminalize normal sexual interactions. One misstep, and students could find themselves accused of “sexual assault,” denied a fair hearing, expelled and unemployable.
Last September, California became the first state to impose “affirmative consent.” That means punishing students who fail to ask “May I unbutton your blouse?” and “May I kiss you?” and wait for the answer.
On May 20, New York’s Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the “toughest law in the nation” requiring “clear, unambiguous and voluntary agreement” before any “specific sexual activity.”
To see how it’s supposed to work, here’s a “sexual misconduct scenario” that Yale University officials drafted for students: “Morgan and Kai are friends who begin dancing and kissing at a party. They are both drunk, although not to the point of incapacitation. Together they decide to go to Kai’s room. They undress each other and begin touching each other. Morgan moves as if to engage in oral sex and looks up at Kai questioningly. Kai nods in agreement and Morgan proceeds. Subsequently, without pausing to check for further agreement, Kai begins to perform oral sex on Morgan. Morgan lies still for a few minutes and then moves away, saying it is late and they should sleep.”
Did you notice any assault? But according to Yale, Kai would be guilty of sexual assault and reprimanded, a permanent stain on his record.
Affirmative consent is dangerous enough, but colleges are also denying accused students due process. What happened in a dark dorm room is usually one student’s word against another’s. Yet many colleges officially designate the accuser as “victim” or “survivor,” revealing a bias that the accuser is always right.
Most appalling, the accused student is guilty based on a “preponderance of evidence” — 51 percent of the facts — rather than evidence beyond a reasonable doubt.
When Harvard adopted a similarly policy in 2014, 28 Harvard law professors including liberal favorite Alan Dershowitz objected that it lacked “the most basic elements of fairness and due process” and was “overwhelmingly stacked against the accused.”
Appallingly, a bill in the U.S. Senate would apply the same “guilty until proved innocent” standard nationwide. Sponsors include the usual lineup of Democrats whining about the war on women, but also two unlikely sponsors: Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. They’re kowtowing to feminists and throwing young men under the bus.
One of the bill’s sponsors, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., even invited Sulkowicz to be an honored guest at President Obama’s State of the Union address. Never mind that Sulkowicz’s sex partner is suing Columbia to get his reputation back, one of several dozen men suing after being falsely accused of, and in some cases expelled for, unproven sexual misconduct.
The Obama administration is arm-twisting to get colleges to adopt these blatantly unfair policies. The administration is threatening to withhold federal funding, including college loans, under Title IX of the 1964 Civil Rights Act if colleges don’t go along.
Obama and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi claim sexual assault on campuses is an “epidemic.” The evidence shows otherwise. In fact, young women are at greater risk of being raped if they don’t attend college, according to a December 2014 Bureau of Justice Statistics report.
On campuses, the real danger is binge drinking — 40 percent of students do it — and the National Institutes of Health sees it as a major cause of date rape and other misconduct. Instead of stripping college men of their legal rights and criminalizing dorm-room hookups, colleges should get serious about curtailing alcohol abuse. That’s the epidemic.
Betsy McCaughey is a senior fellow at the London Center for Policy Research and author of “Government by Choice: Inventing the United States Constitution.”
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