When a male student is accused of harassment, stalking, or other form of abuse, he should be prepared to swim the shark-infested waters of administrative hearings. The website aims to help supply wrongly accused students with information they need to help protect themselves.
In addition, there are moral questions that arise whenever websites like mine are asked by students to publicly pronounce guilt against academic officials, supported with no other evidence than an accusation. I discuss that in this post.
This story is sad in several ways. I’ll be using it to drive home a few points about the precarious situation men and boys are in when they attend our educational institutions, and why they need resources like this website. I hope those of you who may be reading this and are currently in school are listening well, because this could be you someday if you aren’t careful.
I recently received an email from a student about his experiences with a certain women’s studies professor and the administration at his college. To protect the student as well as this site (he is currently enrolled at another school), I have redacted the names in the email, but have left the text otherwise unchanged. It begins:
I feel like i have been a victim of discrimination at my college. This last school year i had a female professor that i had taken 5 of her classes. She teaches US history and women’s studies classes at [redacted]. I misjudged the situation. I thought that because i had taken so many of her classes that we were friends on a teacher Student professional level.
There are several things here that all students should be aware of. First, do not ever assume that women’s studies professors (as well as their students) are your friends. Never. Remember: they live in a peer group where they are rewarded and receive validation for playing their part in the cultural prosecution of men and boys. The secretive world of academia affords them a cloak to alter the facts as they see fit, and the lack of rights and protections male students are afforded in disciplinary hearings means that they should be especially careful.
Second, I’d like to remind you all that universities are a business. Beyond professional courtesy, many teachers resist (and some resent) any kind of teacher-student relationship that is substantially “friendly” in nature. Such relationships put teachers in an awkward position that they may be called upon to explain later, regardless as to whatever they have done or not done. The email continues:
At the end of the term i received a email from her requesting that I give professional distance, because i had emailed her a happy birthday email, asked too many questions regarding the topics of the class, and for making a joke to another male student in class telling him “wouldn’t it be nice to live next door to her, because she is so knowledgeable and we could go over there and ask questions when ever we want to.” I was no longer enrolled in her class the next term. I was taking a speech class. One of my speeches that we had to do was to make a speech basically toasting someone. I chose her to make the speech about. I thought i was being nice.
I went in to get help from my speech professor about the speech. She asked me if i was going to let her know that i was writing a speech about her. I said no. She asked me not to talk to her, and broke down and began to get upset, and was almost in tears. She really hurt my feels and i was having a bad time. I was venting about what happened.
I suppose you can toast someone in a nice way, if there’s enough tongue-in-cheek statements. But this is where it becomes problematic for me when it comes to using this website to publicly pronounce guilt. I have no idea what was actually said, and how it was said, regarding the “toast” and the “venting” during these private meetings. He continues:
The next thing i know i received a email from the deans office requesting a meeting telling me i am being accused of breaking the student code of conduct , by intimidating a professor or faculty member, and speaking to a professor when i was asked not to. Basically i was accused of stalking. They did a back ground check on me. They found nothing i have no criminal record and i do not stalk or intimidate women. By the way she is a lesbian, a hardcore feminist and a rape survivor.
Those of you who are familiar with men’s issues or individual rights in academia can probably see where this is going.
I went to the meeting with the deans office. They told me that i was causing problems with her partner at home and at work. She was having to explain this to her. Explain What ? They told me she felt like i was challenging her sexuality. They told me that i was intimidating her , and when i asked if i could apologize to her she told me that if i contacted her she would call the police on me or file a stalking order on me. They told me she was hyper sensitive because of the women’s studies classes she teaches that involve bad things men have done to women.
At the end of the term i told [the college] i wouldn’t be coming back. They made me feel like she was out to get me, and it scared me.
To me when someone tells me that someone is hypersensitive to men, and that they will call the police on you if you try to apologize to them it tends to scare you. During the summer i was in [redacted]. I sent her a email trying to explain to her that we don’t need to be enemies, and that i felt that the deans office had handled this in a poor manner, by telling me that i need to act professional, and that no female professor will trust, because they will always be wondering if this will happen.
This is why you need websites like this one. When someone invokes an administrative authority to prevent you from speaking with them, assume that any further contact on your part – no matter how well-intentioned – will be responded to with hostility, and will backfire on you.
I got a third email from the deans office, requesting another meeting with me. I called them right back and told them that i am not able to make it back for the meeting. They asked me if i would call them when i got off work to call them for a over the phone interview. I explained to them what had happened, and that i didn’t think they could do anything to me for contacting her after i was no longer enrolled at [redacted].
Plus my intentions were not to harm or scare her, but just to try and square things up. They told me that i was going to get a warning again. I ended up getting suspended from [redacted] for one year, with the understanding that i will not go on any [of their property or events],or i will be expelled from the college, and it will go on my record. I can’t even go to the park next door. I am so freaked about about this i am not coming back to the state.
At any time if i run in to her she could call the police and tell them i am stalking her. I don’t and never have intimidated women or stalked one. The college sided against me , and made assumptions about with out any clear facts. I feel like she lied to [the college] to get ride of me. This turned in to a misunderstanding between me and a professor, to me being in love with her, intimidating her, to challenging her sexuality, to all kinds of crazy stuff. This is wrong to treat me or another student this way. I feel i am a victim of discrimination, because of my gender and my size.
I also don’t thing [the college] is acting by the law and maybe violating my civil rights. I have not done anything wrong, except assume that i was friends with a professor that hates men, and for trying to clear things up with a professor that asked me not to talk to her. I believe that [the college] has acted in a unlawful manor, and a illegal manor. when i have told this story to my friends they are in awe that this would happen to me, because everyone that knows, knows that i am a nice man.
On a related note, look at this site’s previous coverage of a Feminist article in a university newspaper wherein she says “there is no such thing as a ‘good guy’ in the patriarchy.” This is how many Feminists view the world. Don’t assume any of the good that you have ever done will be redemptive in their eyes whenever they merely suspect you – reasonably or otherwise – of any wrongdoing. He ends the email by saying:
I have said some dumb things, but everyone does , but i have not said or acted a manner that deserves this kind of harsh treatment. Can you please help me, or look in to this for. I want to clear my name, because at anytime she could call any college and tell them lies about me.
What to do. Here is my reply in full:
I’ve been thinking about your story. First, I need to make a disclaimer that I am not an attorney. My history with education is as a teacher and an activist. I have been following education issues for quite a while, though, so I will do my best in that capacity, assuming everything you said is true.
First, at the very least, I wouldn’t try to contact the professor again directly without first consulting an attorney, even if she contacts you and asks to talk. Also, I have some questions. Did she file a restraining or no-contact order with a judicial body, or were her actions confined to solely working with/through the college administration? Also, when you say you want to clear your name, are you referring only to your name at [your college], or did this professor (or anyone at the school) make any public statements against you?
The way academia is structured makes gossip and the circulation of lies easier, and also harder to defend against and clear away. Much conversation occurs behind closed office doors, or in private emails, and can’t be picked up by the public. Letters of recommendation are also often sealed and sent by those who are requested to fill them out.
Pursuing a discrimination claim through the Department of Education (what is called “filing a Title IX complaint”) by alleging that you were discriminated against and falsely accused of harassment would be very difficult. Put simply, the Dept. of Ed.’s Office of Civil Rights, which investigates such complaints, is run by people much like your professor. People like me are trying to expose people like them and run them out of our education system, as well as create a more fair-minded culture that will replace them.
I don’t think there’s any way to take action against this kind of speech without doing more harm than good by drawing public attention to the accusations against you. There are a lot of people who adopt an “always believe the woman” attitude when it comes to any kind of alleged abuse, especially in academia. In addition, attempting a legal case would be difficult in my perspective because slander and libel lawsuits are notoriously difficult cases to win. Courts tend to err on the side of protecting speech unless malicious intent can be proven.
However, if you wish to attend [your college] again – especially in the period of your suspension – you may have a case against the college under those same free speech principles in a court of law. It’s iffy since harassment / stalking policies and cases are often murky. I also can’t make substantial legal recommendations for you because I don’t know what all was said concerning this professor. In addition, being suspended while no longer enrolled at the school (if I read your email correctly) may complicate such a case.
If you are interested in pursuing such a case, you might want to contact the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education. They have a network of attorneys that work specifically on free speech cases. Some of them even work pro-bono, as recently happened with a University of Cincinnati case. Their case submission form is here:
I would also recommend, if you talk with anyone at the college about this in person again, to covertly record the conversation. Recorded statements may prove useful later for various reasons. Your state, [redacted], has “one-party consent” laws governing recordings, which means that only one party to the conversation (which can be you) needs to consent to the recording for it to be legal.
As always, when in doubt contact an attorney. If you find out there is nothing you can do to help your situation, there may still be some good to be done for others who may find themselves in your situation by telling your story, or getting other people to tell them. I can do that if you want, although I would omit any information that could identify you or the college.
Lastly, I would advise that you take advice of those not closely involved in your case with a grain of salt and measure it with your own experiences. While people like myself may be more familiar with education policy generally, only you know the particulars of your individual case.
I hope this helps. Let me know if you have any other questions.
– Jonathan Taylor
Founder, A Voice for Male Students
This is part of the email I received in response (my comments interspersed):
This whole experience has been really hurtful and scary for me. I have moved to Wyoming at the moment to continue my education. It scared me so bad that i left. I had to go on antidepressants over this it hurt me so bad. Not one single person at [the college] that worked on the faculty had my back , and that was so hard to take.
Most of them won’t, regardless as to the facts of the case. This is also what happened at the infamous Duke lacrosse false rape case, wherein 88 faculty members openly took the side of the false accuser, signing their names to a statement that was published in the university newspaper. One of them – Dr. Susan Thorne – privately apologized to one of the lacrosse members when it became known that the accuser had lied about the case, and even promised him by email that she would publicly apologize.
The next thing he saw was her signature on a public statement by the faculty regarding their original ad and their presumptions of guilt. The statement read “there have been public calls to the authors to retract the ad or apologize for it…we reject all of these.” When the player asked her why she signed her name on such a statement despite promising to apologize, she responded by saying that she had to sign the letter, otherwise “my voice won’t count for much in my world.”
This is how academia operates. When faced with a moral question of “is this right or wrong,” many faculty and administrators decide the question by asking “how does this benefit my career.”
The email continues:
All i was trying to do was to be nice to her, and it back fired on me. At the time i thought she was someone to look up to. It wasn’t until after the fact i started to look in to the fact that what she was teaching in her classes may not be the whole truth , and she twisted the facts for her causes she is after. Which might be to destroy men. To answer your question , no the only charges at this point are through the school. I was threatened with a restraining order or the police being called on me when i tried to see if i could apologize to her. I made a post on rate my professor about her, where i was warning about her , and for male students to stay away!! She then accused me of challenging her sexuality , and told the deans office that she wanted me expelled.
I emailed the deans office after i was in [redacted] to find out what had happened. They contacted her i guess, because she emailed back and said that i am being suspended from [redacted] for contacting her after i was asked not to , and if i contacted her for anything that i would have the police called on me, or a lawsuit filed against me. She supposedly has a file of stuff on me, what it is i have no clue. And yes i think there were many things said about me behind closed doors. I started to get dirty looks from other students and faculty members towards the end of the term. It went from being a big misunderstanding to challenging her sexuality, to causing problems in her personal life between her partner, invading her personal life, to a whole slew of crazy things !!! I am so freaked out over this thing that i have moved 1000 miles away.
When a man hears he a woman is a rape victim, a hard core feminist, and a lesbian it kind of freaks you out. And when they tell you she wants to call the police on you because you want to apologize to her ; and then they tell you she is hypersensitive to men ,because she teaches classes on all the bad things men have done to women and men make more money then women. It tends to scare the shit out of me, and probably most men. To me it is implying that she is out to get me and that if i run in to her on the streets she could very easily call the police and say that i was stalking her!!! Scary shit!! I consulted a lawyer , and he told me to run the other way if i see her or pick up my cell phone and start talking or act like i got a text! I am so freaked out! And when i said i want to clear my name i want to clear my name so that she can’t just call up another school and tell them lies about me!
I really would like to press charges, or file a law suit, but i have my doubts anything would stick. I think if you could write a article disclaiming her would be better or [the college] in general! Is there any way that we. or a voice for men can protest somehow in front of the school ?? I just need some help if there is help to be given. If no help can be given to me than i would like to try and help other students so that is will not happen to them or anyone else at [my college] or any other college! That is my wish! What good does it do have professor teach classes where men do no good. I mean 3 classes back to back on rape in the same week is a bit much! For anyone! I almost wonder if she is reliving her rape somehow by teaching this stuff. This turned in to a misunderstanding to a nuclear bomb that went off. and the weird thing is that i told them i was leaving to go to another school, because of everything that had happened. I didn’t think it was fair how i was treated.
This is a difficult one for me. In the Mission and Values page, you will see that part of the mission of this site is to “Thoughtfully and aggressively promote and execute lawful forms of opposition and antagonism toward the agents of misandry and corruption that infest our education system.” We know full well that misandry is both permissive and pervasive in academia, and that much of it finds its roots in women’s studies department. And yet, one of the nine values of this site is due process. And all I have are against this professor is an accusation, a few statements on RateMyProfessors.com by (allegedly) former students, and some shoddy pseudointellectual work she has published. Nothing determinative in itself.
This is why I repeatedly come back to saying this, and will keep on saying it: when in academia, remember that recording devices are your sword and shield. Whenever you are in a meeting with a faculty or administrator – especially a meeting that is or potentially will discuss misconduct – I strongly advise you to covertly use recording devices if it is legal in your state. If I had a solid recording, or any other kind of solid evidence, I could nail the professor, administrators, as well as that entire college to the wall. This is also why men and boys need to hear the message of men’s human rights before these administrative hearings take place, rather than only after. As the saying goes, forewarned is forearmed.
Some readers may point out that it might not be illegal to publish such accusations, even while shielding the identity of the accuser. And they are likely right. For example, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) informs us that, under section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, blogs are often given wide latitude to publish information that is provided to them by site users (although not necessarily information they seek out). But that is missing the point I’m trying to make. Consider: would Feminists follow the same principles of due process when dealing with men and boys accused of abuse?
And that’s why Feminism is increasingly on the decline in terms of public image.
This site aims to place values above sides, groups, and establishments. Values should be applied to everyone, rather than just – like Feminists – rhetorical gimmicks we dishonestly and selectively employ in a mad quest for power and supremacy. That is the very essence of equality. It is what makes us different from Feminists like Dr. PZ Myers, who all too recently used his blog to publicly demonize a man by name by publishing a third-hand rape accusation against him, while shielding the name of the accuser. It is what makes us different from the campus Feminists at Duke University, who carried around a sign reading “castrate,” distributed wanted posters, and took out an ad in the newspaper declaring the guilt of the wrongly accused. There are many examples of this kind of behavior from Feminists, and you need only follow the work of this project to see for yourself.
I wish this student all the best, and I hope this post is able to help students navigate the shark-infested waters of academia.