This site recently covered the case of Praise Martin-Oguike, a student at Temple University who emigrated from Nigeria to the United States in 1999. After being falsely accused of sexual assault in 2012, he was expelled, stripped of his scholarship, kicked off the football team, and nationally vilified. In early October 2013 the charge was immediately dropped when the judge allowed the accuser’s text messages to be entered as evidence. Today I am sending an email to the administrators at Temple University.
I have also uploaded this video to YouTube, which provides a brief preliminary ABC News segment. Please view this video up to the 2:15 mark. The rest of the video is covered in the rest of this post.
Since this is a large university (26th largest in the US), they have many administrators who handle student affairs, making it hard to pinpoint which one worked with the Title IX Coordinator on this particular case. However, they only have one Title IX Coordinator (Sandra Foehl). Since – as Title IX Coordinator – she must oversee all accusations of sexual assault and is the overarching authority on gender equity compliance, we know she had a hand in this. That is why I call her out by name.
This email is addressed to the following people at Temple University:
Board of Trustees
Dr. Neil Theobald – President
Hai-Lung Dai – Provost
Sandra Foehl – Title IX Coordinator
Stephanie Ives – Associate Vice President for Student Affairs/Dean of Students
Andrea Caporale Seiss – Senior Associate Dean of Students
Rachael Stark – Associate Dean of Students
Rebekah Rhodes – Assistant Dean of Students
The email is as follows:
This is primarily directed toward those who had their hands in the decision to expel Praise Martin-Oguike from Temple University – especially Title IX Coordinator Sandra Foehl, the overarching authority on gender equity compliance at Temple U and overseer of the university’s adjudications of sexual assault accusations. It is also meant for those who sat idly by and thought that a system which produced such a result was anywhere near the embodiment of justice. Also, I figured some of you may find this interesting, so I emailed it to you for both your pleasure and mine.
My name is Jonathan Taylor. I am the founder of A Voice for Male Students, the motto of which is educational equity for men and boys. Part of its mission statement is to raise awareness of the structural and cultural barriers men and boys – and in particular male students – face in receiving an equitable education, and to advocate the equal human rights of men and boys in academia. One of those human rights is due process.
What can at best be called the incompetence and ineptitude of your administration has been on display this week in the national media. As you should know, the rape charges against Praise Martin-Oguike, the student who was falsely accused of sexual assault last year at your university, who you expelled, who was kicked off the football team, who was stripped of his scholarship, and who was nationally demonized in the media, were dropped shortly after judge Denis Cohen allowed evidence from the accuser’s phone to be submitted.
Although this proved to be damning evidence that immediately shattered the accuser’s case, it has done very little to repair the wreckage of this young man’s life. You will note that, according to ABC News, Praise Martin-Oguike is a native of Nigeria who emigrated to the United States with his parents in 1999. Perhaps his family brought him to this country under the assumption that doing so would open up wonderful new opportunities for him. They indeed opened up opportunities, but not the kind his parents wished for their son.
The public is increasingly acquainted with this travesty. Unfortunately, they are not yet fully acquainted with the names and faces of those responsible for it. I aim to remedy that. That is why I am posting this letter online for public exposure. So whenever someone Googles your administration or your names, they will know your work, whether it was your choice to wreck the life of this young man on such a flimsy accusation, or your choice to stand idly by and watch.
If you doubt me, Google Title IX Coordinator Michele Vieira of A&M-Commerce and see for yourself. When I interviewed her last year about her university’s decision to adopt the preponderance of evidence standard in adjudicating matters of sexual misconduct – the standard by which administrators need only be 50.01% sure that the accusation was true – I looked her in the eye and asked her if the policy was justified. After a long and heavy silence, she responded – unaware that she was being recorded – with the bureaucratic equivalent of “I can’t answer that.”
That was the same standard of evidence by which you cast out Praise Martin-Oguike. I know this because the April 4, 2011 Dear Colleague letter from the Department of Education compels you to adopt this standard. Not that it absolves you, of course.
I’m sure at this point the mental hamsters of your administrators – especially that of your Title IX Coordinator – are busy at the wheel, spinning out not reasons, but rationalizations as to why Temple U administrators are undeserving of such criticism. If nothing else, the public may expect the usual deflection of “I’m just doing my job,” the same argument by which many have gone down on the wrong side of history.
We may also expect some of you to hide behind the most fraudulent statistics sexual assault statistics that are yet popular within certain academic circles, as if the supposedly high rates of sexual assault on college campuses lend justification to a due-process-be-damned approach to adjudicating sexual misconduct. In particular, we may expect the all-too-predictable claim cited in the Dear Colleague letter that “1 in 5 college women are raped,” and which Russlynn Ali – former assistant secretary of the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights – used to rationalize the preponderance standard within the letter itself.
We may also expect that, in hiding behind this statistic, you would neglect the fact that despite having ~19,000 female students, you have an average of 5 sexual assault accusations a year. Even assuming all those reports are true and that only 1 in 10 are reported – both of which are generous assumptions at this point – it would still be the case that 1 in 380 students report the matter, an extremely far cry from 1 in 5.
We may also expect the dishonest and self-serving subterfuge that your policies are not truly discriminatory against male students because the wording of education policy does not single out men and boys per se, it only singles out and reduces the rights of those who are accused – 99% of whom just happen to be men and boys. You would, of course, forget that in so doing you would be using the similar reasoning as those who not too long ago claimed that they were not discriminating against blacks per se, but rather discriminating against those whose ancestors did not own land prior to the emancipation proclamation.
I have seen such rationalizations time and time again in a wide variety of areas. I archive these rationalizations and teach others how to identify them. While they vary endlessly, in the end they are all cosmetic variations varnished upon one simple message: screw men and boys.
Message received. Admittedly, it took some of us a while. But we finally got the message.
As to those who were not central to the expulsion of Praise Martin-Oguike and merely stood on the sidelines, perhaps you think you are being treated unfairly by being included in this cloud of condemnation. Perhaps you think that while you sit and watch the enforcers of the politics of collective guilt – much of what gender politics in academia is premised upon nowadays – that you yourself should be spared the same methods of accountability by which you seem to be all too content to see them destroy the lives of your students.
I see things differently.
We will always have people who are happy to be the functionaries of injustice, and who are happy to roll the dice on this or that member of this or that group, whether it is against blacks, or gays, or men, and so forth. Even more so if it procures a crisp dollar, a comfy office, and a shiny nameplate. That does not change from age to age. What does change, however, is the degree to which everyone else accepts them within their midst, and accepts the system and the institutional culture which produces them.
According to various news sources, your university is refraining from publicly commenting on this case. In addition, Praise allegedly wants to return to Temple University and attend medical school. I have no idea if that will happen. But if it does, allow me to make a recommendation. If he returns there and faces an atmosphere of retaliatory harassment, bullying, and intimidation from the Temple community, you might try stepping outside normal education protocol for a brief punctuation of time by applying Title IX protections regarding retaliatory harassment to Praise, just as you would do without question and as a matter of course if he were a woman.
To be more specific, although the April 4, 2011 Dear Colleague letter from the Department of Education directs administrators to crack down on retaliation against accusers (that would be on page 5, for your convenience of reference), it says nothing about retaliation against those who are wrongly accused. So please just go ahead and assume that it was an “honest mistake” that they left that part out. You know, like all those other “honest mistakes” we have witnessed at Duke University, or at Hofstra University, and so forth, regarding how our academic institutions treat the wrongly accused.
As you no doubt realize, this is not a dialog. True dialog with the possibility of substantial change is impossible given that the continued employment of far too many in academia depends upon the exact opposite. No, the purpose of this email is to teach the world – including the next generation which will replace you – where the status quo is messing up, what needs to change, and in what spirit the public should address you for the present. It is also to show parents whose sons might one day consider going to Temple University exactly what kind of school Temple U is.
And if you still think this email is in any way inappropriate or harsh, you may console yourself with the fact that you are not Praise Martin-Oguike.
Founder, A Voice for Male Students