10/13/2014 Malcolm James

Columbia University reaches the Holy Grail for “anti-sexual assault” activists

At Columbia University sexual assault activists have finally achieved their Holy Grail; the abolition of any semblance of due process in the handling of sexual assault allegations, which will now be presumed to be true and dealt with accordingly.

OK, we are only talking about expulsion from Columbia University’s Marching Band (CUMB), which hardly has the life-changing ramifications of expulsion from Columbia University itself, and this policy is simply contained in a Community Standards Agreement, but this is still troubling for several reasons.  Firstly, expulsion, even if it is only from CUMB, will carry a stigma, particularly since the band will have a fairly high profile at the university and the expulsion might soon become common knowledge.

Secondly, as an active amateur musician myself, I can attest to how much CUMB will mean to its members; and, thirdly, where CUMB leads today, could Columbia University and others follow tomorrow?  The abolition of any pretence at due process might appear unlikely, but would anyone 20 years ago seriously have imagined us being where we are now?

Already, Amanda Childress, the Sexual Assault Awareness Programme co-ordinator at Dartmouth College has gone on record as saying that she sees no problem in students being expelled on the basis on an unproven allegation.

The motivation for these changes is ‘a number of instances of alleged sexual assault within the band’.  Let’s get one thing straight; the band is quite within its rights to expel a member if there is evidence of serious misbehavior.  However, in the instance described in the article, one alumnus allegedly tried to pick up a band member at a private party and rubbed her back and kissed her neck.  Boorish behavior, quite possibly, but sexual assault?  You’re having a laugh!

Men and women joining CUMB often have at least one eye on the possibility of meeting their future partner there.  Men are expected to be the initiators in sexual relations and women enjoy the flattery of the attention of being the chosen one, provided that they are similarly attracted to the man.

This new policy has the consequence for men (and let us be clear that this policy is primarily directed at men, despite the gender-neutral language) of making any sexual advance akin to a game of Russian roulette, and many men will simply stop trying to initiate sexual relationships, at least within the band environment.

Be careful what you wish for ladies, because you might just get it!

The head manager of CUMB, Edith Lerner, is under no illusions about the effect of this policy when she says:

We don’t care if something [i.e. an alleged assault] is not confirmed, we aren’t interested in having alleged perpetrators in our group…We recognise that there could be problems with the policy, but we wanted it implement it [sic] right away so that our new members knew right off the bat what our values are and how serious we are about our community.

‘Problems with the policy’ – I wonder what those might be?  That the incident is a murky he said/she said encounter with no witnesses?  That it gives a green light to anyone with a grudge to make malicious allegations against CUMB members?

Of course there will be no malicious allegations; how can we show that allegations are malicious if we don’t investigate them?  Such policies are accepted without question, not only because the prevailing discourse has greatly exaggerated the problem by conflating sexual assault with boorish behaviour and genuine misunderstandings, but also because men (and women) complacently believe that it could never happen to them.

Women do not visualize being the target of allegations, either by men or by other women, and men might see themselves as the good guys, the ‘white knights’ whose role is to save women from the bad guys.  Whilst it would be irresponsible to encourage false allegations, one wonders whether such allegations being made against Ms. Lerner might have a salutary effect and whether she would apply this policy to herself without complaint.

Perhaps the most revealing part of Ms Lerner’s statement is the last phrase.  Readers of this site will doubtless be aware that Columbia University is attended by Emma Sulkowicz, the visual arts major, who is currently carrying a mattress around the campus to highlight the perceived injustice of her sexual assault allegations against a fellow student being rejected and the university’s consequent refusal to expel this student (see here and here).

She will also be aware of the criticism aimed at various college football teams at their failure to deal with unproven allegations harshly enough.  CUMB has a high profile within the university and understandably wants to cover its backside and protect its reputation.  After all, they don’t really want someone carrying their euphonium or bass drum around the campus every day.

However, once organizations voluntarily bend to the will of the mob to avoid reputational harm, the mob has surely won.

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Comments (14)

  1. Good one, J.

    I am not sure readers understand that we’ve entered into uncharted waters when it comes to college men and sex. Positions that, just a few years ago, were considered radical and were being pushed by extremists with the backing of feminist legal scholars, are now mainstream. We can’t emphasize this enough. Here’s perhaps the most astounding example: http://www.cotwa.info/2014/10/in-california-and-on-college-campuses.html

    Keep beating the drum.

    • Thanks, Pierce. I will! And thanks for all that you do.

      Also, the author of this piece is not myself, but UK lecturer Malcolm James. I am quite honored by his contributions here.

  2. Malcolm James

    Thanks Jonathan! I hink you are to kind to CUMB in your intro. They clearly don’t intend to investigate claims at all, unless they absolutly have to!

  3. Someone should accuse every single member of.that band of sexual assault. I’m not even kidding. That might be the only way to expose how.stupid that rule is.

    • Michael Steane

      Or just the ones pushing the policy.

    • I think the best thing to do is to just bust up the school with a lawsuit, as well as hold it publicly accountable by spreading the word about how shitty a school it now is. I think people know it’s stupid. They’re just either too damn lazy or afraid to challenge it openly. The students, parents, and alumni are going to have to start standing up to things like this.

      Also, it’s hard for me to support making knowingly false accusations of actual crimes. In my observation it almost never works out how people think it does. And making false accusations will only give the anti-MHRA groups more credibility than they deserve, which they will then use to push more policies like these.

      • Funcuz

        Unfortunately, lawsuits just won’t do it. The reason is because it’s not entirely the school coming up with this crap. It’s the Obama administration telling them that if they don’t basically start instituting these policies then they can kiss their funding goodbye or risk some other measures from the federal government. The only way to beat this is not to file suit against the school but to show a copy of the U.S. constitution to a supreme court and ask them how well these polices jive with it.

  4. Funcuz

    My favorite part is the bit about “values”. Pointing your finger and screaming “the sky is falling” is now a “value”. Learned something new today. Otherwise, what are we really talking about here ? We’re talking about people who are ostensibly professional instituting policies that your average 14 year old would think made plenty of sense. That’s how the high school mentality operates : “Did you hear what Jacob did to Amanda ?!” No need to investigate any further. Let’s just round up a lynch mob and get Jacob good.

    Well, now that the lunatics are running the asylum, I have to wonder how long it will be until they lock up the sane.

  5. Malcolm James

    I suspect that you have to audition to get into the band and that the auditions might be fairly competitive. What better way of sidelining a rival who has just beaten you to a coveted place in the band?

  6. “we aren’t interested in having alleged perpetrators in our group” … there aren’t words to capture the stupidity of these SJWs. One person can enter and accuse everyone else. What are they going to do? Kick everyone out of the club?
    This is exactly how bullies run a group, and why presumption of innocence is so vitally important. Now we have a system where an accusation is accepted. A second accusation will inevitable be used to “prove” that guy is guilty, while everyone forgets or ignores that the first one was just vicious gossip.
    How did our universities become filled with morons?

  7. Trevor Smith

    Why expect any honesty or integrity from feminist controlled educational institutes. The trigger for this deplorable policy was a number of instances of alleged assaults – not even confirmed sexual assaults. So allegations are now where the bar is set but only in regards to sexual assault against women.

  8. At least now CUMB is officially admitting to what some schools, school clubs, employers and others have done for decades* — automatically punishing upon accusation.

    [*] Dating back to the ’90s, I’ve been told by decision-makers and others, “If she says it’s harassment, it’s harassment,” “Harassment is whatever the other person perceives as harassing” and “If they say you harassed them, you harassed them.”


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