It’s a familiar tale: Boy meets girl, they share some wonderful moments of passion, but then he suddenly doesn’t call or come around anymore.
In the past, that was all part of the dating game, but today the story ends with “boy” being suspended for not perusing a relationship with “girl” and having to file a federal lawsuit to clear his name.
The saga began in November 2016 when two students at Williams College in Massachusetts, identified in court papers as John Doe and Sally Smith, went out to dinner together.
They went for a walk and afterward, at Smith’s insistence, went back to Doe’s dorm, according to the lawsuit filed by Doe in U.S. District Court in Massachusetts.
Smith expressed that because of her strict upbringing and “restrictive cultural norms” in her home country, she had never kissed a boy. (Doe is identified as Hispanic, and both were foreign students at the college.) When Doe asked if he could kiss her, she agreed, and the pair engaged in kissing and sexual touching, although both remained fully clothed, the lawsuit says.
Afterward, messages exchanged between the two already showed signs of a one-sided relationship. Smith expressed how she felt “liberated” and had “not been this happy ever since I started college,” according to the lawsuit, while Doe took four days to respond to her text and warned that he was “just going to be super busy until the end of the semester.”
Still, Smith sought out Doe after she’d applied to be part of a student organization where Doe served in a leadership capacity. He told her she was already selected and approved, and they talked about other topics, including Smith’s feeling that Doe had been culturally insensitive by not pursuing a relationship.
In another version of an “It’s not you, it’s me” gentle let-down, he told her he wasn’t emotionally available. He then asked if he could kiss her, which she initially rebuffed but when asked a second time agreed, the lawsuit says. The two engaged in more kissing and touching.
After this second encounter, Doe noticed strange treatment from Smith’s friends, he said.
When confronted, she advised him that she felt he “disrespected her cultural norms” and that she had “lots of people ready to hurt him,” according to his lawsuit.
Panicked, he went to the administration at Williams College for help and was referred to Meg Bossong, director of sexual assault prevention and response. Although he was initially told by the dean that Smith’s threat could be grounds for him to file a harassment complaint against her, Bossong eventually told him they couldn’t help him, he said.
Instead, Doe found himself on the other side of a Title IX complaint for possible “non-consensual sexual interaction” for his two encounters with Smith.
The Title IX guideline was put in place by the Obama administration to protect students against sexual discrimination, but there are problems with the way it is broadly applied to cases of sexual misconduct on campus.
As Greg Piper of The College Fix aptly pointed out, this is a case of “one weird trick for turning ‘culturally insensitive’ behavior into sexual misconduct”:
— Greg Piper (@gregpiper) March 5, 2020
At Williams College, the process to respond to a Title IX sexual misconduct claim includes a hearing in front of a three-person panel that reviews an independent report compiled at the request of the college’s dean.
The report in Doe’s case did not give specific information on the identity of the witnesses, the substance of their statements or other relevant facts from the interviews, the lawsuit says.
Additionally, Doe was not permitted to add anything in his own defense to that report. He was not allowed to face his accuser, was not allowed to question other students as to their involvement in the investigation, and was not allowed to submit as evidence Smith’s two prior allegations of cultural insensitivity, which could demonstrate a pattern of her wielding the charge as a weapon.
Despite this, Doe was found to have “acted without consent” in his encounters with Smith and was summarily suspended from the college.
His legal team asserts that because of the unfair process and the preponderance of the evidence, Doe should have been cleared of the charge.
Furthermore, Williams College “did not credit Smith’s assertion that Doe engaged in forcible sexual contact over her verbal objections,” Doe’s legal team argued. “Instead, it essentially held that he should have guessed that she would not want to engage in kissing or touching under the circumstances.”
Meanwhile, Smith was still permitted to spread misinformation about Doe on campus. Doe said he was told by Title IX Coordinator Toya Camacho that any attempt by the college to silence her would go against #MeToo movement.
The #MeToo movement initially gained momentum as encouragement for victims of sexual abuse and sexual harassment to speak out, but it has morphed into the presumption of guilt with no due process for men like Doe and has negative consequences for women as men are afraid to get caught up in allegations.
The absurdity of this claim against Doe not only gaining traction at the school but also resulting in disciplinary action is summed up by author and political commentator Ann Coulter.
“No wonder college tuition is so expensive!” she said on Twitter. “Look at all the administrators, handbooks, outside investigators, etc, necessary to deal with: A guy kisses a girl, but decides not to date her.”
No wonder college tuition is so expensive! Look at all the administrators, handbooks, outside investigators, etc, necessary to deal with: A guy kisses a girl, but decides not to date her.https://t.co/8M1V1Hmi3k
— Ann Coulter (@AnnCoulter) March 6, 2020
This case highlights the lopsided “believe all women” mentality that is pervasive on college campuses. While the lawsuit indicates Williams College acknowledged Doe didn’t force himself on Smith, the allegation sets up the expectation that he should have read her mind rather than listen to her words. The old trope about women expecting men to be mind readers is apparently considered a duty at institutions such as Williams College.
This is problematic because if consent is about both parties agreeing, then even if Doe was aware of Smith’s relationship expectations based on previous physical intimacy, Doe had a right to withdraw consent at any time, negating Smith’s claim of his duty to date her.
After all, Williams College’s own Code of Conduct states “consent once given may be withdrawn at any time,” so Doe should be off the hook. Why should a man have to date a woman he doesn’t want to be with simply because they engaged in consensual physical intimacy?
If either party has a right to change his or her mind because, as we all know, “no means no,” then nothing more can be expected of Doe — unless that only applies to females.
Doe’s lawsuit asks that Williams College reverse its finding and expunge his record. It also seeks unspecified compensatory and punitive damages.
Any woman who’s ever been ghosted by a man after sharing intimacy can relate to the feelings of rejection and anger. However, a woman who has her heart broken has no right to take away a man’s future, even if he is guilty of the sin of “cultural insensitivity.”
Hopefully, justice will win the day in court this time.
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