Sexual Violence on Campus: “Rape is Not Sex”

Link to "Yale's Response to Campus Rape is Not Enough"
Link to “Yale’s Response to Campus Rape is Not Enough”

Sukjong Hong writes:

For the millionth time, rape is not sex. Surely this has been established by now, you may argue. But looking at the recent report from Yale University, a venerable institution of higher education and my alma mater, I am not so sure. In its fourth “Report of Complaints of Sexual Misconduct,” released via a reporting process mandated by the Department of Education as part of a Title IX complaint resolution, the university determined that over a period of six months, six students were guilty of “nonconsensual sex.” The report offers a disclaimer that, due to privacy concerns, it does not convey the “diversity and complexity of the circumstances associated with the complaints or the factors that determined the outcomes and sanctions.” But the qualifier “nonconsensual” is all the detail that is needed. It is lack of consent that defines rape. Not force, not bruising, not visible scars. The victim said no or was unable to give consent, but the perpetrator proceeded anyway.

Of the six Yale students found guilty, four were given written reprimands, one was placed on probation, and one student given a one-year suspension. All six will graduate with Ivy League degrees after committing a crime, which if committed outside the bounds of campus, would lead to far more serious repercussions. In the report, the resolutions to each complaint of “nonconsensual sex” note that the perpetrator is restricted from contacting the complainant and counseled on appropriate conduct. Very few of the cases move to the formal complaint level, even if the university finds sufficient evidence of wrongdoing. In other cases detailed in the campus newspaper involving charges of sexual harassment, students are discouraged from pursuing a formal complaint option and even made to sign non-disclosure agreements in exchange for back pay owed to them by a sexually harassing supervisor. Cases of intimate partner violence, unwanted sexual advances and physical restraint by perpetrators were resolved in a similar manner.

The message could not be clearer. Sexual assault is reduced to a private negotiation between two parties, rather than established as an act that cannot and should not be tolerated on campus. Yale University essentially spells out its institutional commitment to the status quo: protecting rapists.

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One thought on “Sexual Violence on Campus: “Rape is Not Sex”

  1. This is appalling. Are victims prevented from going to the police by university policy? Sometimes it feels like we’ve made a lot of strides forward as a society, and sometimes it seems we’ve gone nowhere. Thanks for sharing this.

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