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George Will: Colleges are victims of their own progressivism

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From George Will’s column this week “College campuses are victims of their own progressivism“:

Colleges and universities are being educated by Washington and are finding the experience excruciating. They are learning that when they say campus victimizations are ubiquitous (“micro-aggressions,” often not discernible to the untutored eye, are everywhere), and that when they make victimhood a coveted status that confers privileges, victims proliferate. And academia’s progressivism has rendered it intellectually defenseless now that progressivism’s achievement, the regulatory state, has decided it is academia’s turn to be broken to government’s saddle.

Consider the supposed campus epidemic of rape, aka “sexual assault.” The administration’s crucial and contradictory statistics are validated the usual way, by official repetition. The statistics are: One in five women is sexually assaulted while in college, and only 12 percent of assaults are reported. Simple arithmetic demonstrates that if the 12 percent reporting rate is correct, the 20 percent assault rate is preposterous. Mark Perry of the American Enterprise Institute notes, for example, that in the four years 2009-12 there were 98 reported sexual assaults at Ohio State. That would be 12 percent of 817 total (see chart above) out of a female student population of approximately 28,000, for a sexual assault rate of approximately 2.9 percent (or 1 in 34)– too high but nowhere near 20 percent (or 1 in 5).

Department of Education lawyers disregard pesky arithmetic and elementary due process. Threatening to withdraw federal funding, DOE mandates adoption of a minimal “preponderance of the evidence” standard when adjudicating sexual assault charges between males and the female “survivors” — note the language of prejudgment. Combine this with capacious definitions of sexual assault that can include not only forcible sexual penetration but also nonconsensual touching. Then add the doctrine that the consent of a female who has been drinking might not protect a male from being found guilty of rape. Then comes costly litigation against institutions that have denied due process to males they accuse of what society considers serious felonies.

It is salutary that academia, with its adversarial stance toward limited government and cultural common sense, is making itself ludicrous. Academia is learning that its attempts to create victim-free campuses — by making everyone hypersensitive, even delusional, about victimizations — brings increasing supervision by the regulatory state that progressivism celebrates.

What government is inflicting on colleges and universities, and what they are inflicting on themselves, diminishes their autonomy, resources, prestige and comity. Which serves them right. They have asked for this by asking for progressivism.

28 thoughts on “George Will: Colleges are victims of their own progressivism

  1. The 12% is an old (and probably artificial) rate of “reported” rapes. The continual efforts to increase reporting have almost certainly driven this reporting rate up, probably to something like 25%, further decrying the results.

  2. Another odd fact: A common meme in feminist circles is that most rapes are committed by someone the “victim” knows, as in a boyfriend or date, or teacher etc. This meme is supposed to prove that all men are bad, btw.

    That would mean that one in five women on a college camp is raped by someone they know. Meaning, roughly, that one in five men on a college campus is a rapist.

    It is hysteria.

    But then, women are not alone in trying to create a hysteria for some sort of gain. The hysteria after 9/11 certainly resulted in trillions of federal outlays and a massive growth in the federal government that has never been reversed. If you pay capital gains or income taxes, you are getting whacked every income-earning day of your life.

    Since 9/11, about 180,000 Americans have been killed by terrorists—they were called drunk drivers.

    Terrorists killed 3,000 in their best year ever, and that only once. Their toll is still about 3,000.

    But be very afraid of rapists and terrorists.

    Another funny one: Thank goodness, but the effects of radiation at Hiroshima and Nagasaki have not been passed along to following generations. Those two cities now have normal cancer rates etc.

    But hysteria about minute amounts of radiation is commonplace.

    Be very afraid!!!!

    • “That would mean that one in five women on a college camp is raped by someone they know. Meaning, roughly, that one in five men on a college campus is a rapist.”

      Rapes are not dependent events. Unless a rapist and a victim never rape or get raped again, the probability you state of one-in-five does not apply here.

  3. Combine this with capacious definitions of sexual assault that can include not only forcible sexual penetration but also nonconsensual touching. Then add the doctrine that the consent of a female who has been drinking might not protect a male from being found guilty of rape.

    Am I the only one not bothered by this definition of sexual assault? I generally like George Will, but I honestly see no issue with sexual assault defined as it is.

  4. George Will is bending statistics in unnatural ways. The source of the 20 percent figure is a Web-based survey at two colleges with 5,446 responses. Surveys are in no way comparable to official complaints of sexual assault, given that reluctance to report would be negligible in an anonymous survey. Politifact found problems with the survey but not with the premise that sexual assault on campus is a problem.

    http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/article/2014/may/02/are-20-percent-women-sexually-assaulted-they-gradu/

    Will’s premise, that academia brought it on itself, is shakier. One guesses that chancellors and deans fought Title IX vigorously before Nixon signed it in 1972, and dislike it even more today. Title IX is the club wielded by campus activists. Anecdotally at least, the star-chamber response by college administrations is grudging and potentially harmful to victim and alleged perpetrator. Sunlight and education are helpful. Denial is not.

    • Surveys are in no way comparable to official complaints of sexual assault, given that reluctance to report would be negligible in an anonymous survey.

      Tell that to the Obama Administration. They’re the one citing that number like its Gospel.

  5. “The statistics are: One in five women is sexually assaulted while in college, and only 12 percent of assaults are reported.

    Why are only 12 percent of assaults reported, according to the the survey used by the White House to make the claim of “one in five women is sexually assaulted”?

    The very understandable reasons are embarrassment and fear BUT

    “The most commonly reported response by both types of victims was that they did not think it was serious enough to report (reported by 56% of physically forced sexual assault victims and 67% of incapacitated sexual assault victims).”(p.5-25)

    So, the great majority of the so-called 1 in 5 statistic is for activities not deemed “serious enough to report”. Hmm.

    • Dunno how old you are but one cannot underestimate the degree of sexual activity and sophistication of post-Internet youth or the complications that arise. In the examples that have surfaced in activists’ accounts, a woman tries to decline the advances of a prior partner, or agrees to sex but not to the form used. It is easy to blame the victim, particularly since alcohol is almost always involved, but neither of these examples are the actions of gentlemen and are in fact legally rape. .

      • “It is easy to blame the victim, particularly since alcohol is almost always involved, but neither of these examples are the actions of gentlemen and are in fact legally rape. .”

        Blame the victim? Rape ? Huh?

        I was pointing out that the internet survey, done through two anonymous universities, reveals that the majority of sexual offenses cited were not deemed serious enough to report to anybody.

          • todd-

            nothing you have pointed out is in any way new.

            no means no.

            the examples you cite have always been the case. they are not some new issue for the post internet generation.

            they are also quite clear cut. you say no, they do it anyway, it’s rape. there is nothing complicated about it.

            also note that theoretical examples of things that could happen do not comprise evidence of any kind in terms of what has happened, is happening, and will happen.

            you comment appears be be almost entirely tangential and theoretical. it does not really bear on the topic.

            hell, when i was an undergrad, just having sex with someone who had been drinking was defined as rape by the university.

            if one is going to use such an absurd standard, then damn near everyone i went to school with was raped.

            if you make your definition expansive enough, you can make anyhting a crime. i fail to see how that demonstrates anything.

          • I am not claiming it is new, although a “hookup” culture on campus could logically increase its prevalence. What’s new is an increasingly militant mindset among coeds, as in this case where students outed alleged sex offenders by writing their names on bathroom walls
            .
            http://time.com/97764/columbia-bathroom-sexual-assault-names/

            The subject here is what college women at two universities told researchers on the subject of sexual assault. In the end theirs are the only opinions that count. If my son was heading off to college this fall I would tell him to be very, very careful, and to heed ‘no’ whenever he hears it.

          • Todd you are kind of obsessed with no. Most cases a non was never said you have cases of girls feeling bad the next day about it and reporting rape. And don’t think some girls claim rape just for the power of it. It isn’t a clear cut. Plus in don’t know -,when I was younger we started kissing and one thing led to another – you didn’t go up to a woman and casually ask “May I have sex with you” and then you and she would work out a contract with the particulars of what may and may not be touched with what.

          • If you have examined all claims of rape and determined that most are trumped up, you should offer yourself as a expert witness to the other people obsesses with ‘no’ — defense attorneys.

          • Todd that is actually why procesuters do have a hard time – because No was not said. It was a I don’tknow, should we really, etc – if that – many cases in college are just the girl felt bad the next day , or everyone was wildly drunk so the male is naturally at fault.

            Yes if the girl or boy outright says no, the case is very cut and dry.

            Case I personally know about boy is hopped up on drugs drunk another boy walks into dorm and initiates moves – first boy doesn’t know what to do because it is some he trusted and isn’t sober enough to say no … Stuff happened … It was never reported to authorities. Circa 1988.

          • In fact, the bane of prosecutors in rape cases is he-said-she-said, and jurors’ tendency to blame the victim. Here is a VA prosecutor talking to law students at UVA:

            “The third defense defendants use—that the sex was consensual—is the most common and the most difficult to defeat, Zug said. “I’ve never won an acquaintance rape jury trial,” he said, often because of skeptical jurists. Women jurors aged 35 and older are the toughest demographic in rape cases, Zug said. “I went a long time trying to pack cases with women [jurors]—until I started talking to them.” At that point he realized older women could be tough judges of victims; in cases where the victim had something to drink (and was drunk or not), older women jurors feel that “she was putting herself in that position” while they excuse the defendant’s drinking.”
            http://www.law.virginia.edu/html/news/2001_02/zug.htm

    • Well part of the problem here is many women didn’t even realize they were “raped” until they saw the extremely expansive definition. Oh that was rape – no kidding?

      Male rape is also a serious problem and wildly underreported because of the stigma. I would think a 6 – 12% report rate is a reasonable assumption for men.

  6. For a heterosexual male, going to college online is the best solution. It’s FAR cheaper (and getting cheaper yet, thanks to blossoming competition), and removes the threat of a campus Star Chamber proceeding.

    Date college women (any women!) privately through nonacademic contact (bars, beaches, or online dating are fine). If a sexual molestation charge is leveled (far less likely), it will be a MUCH more fair proceeding — with a tighter standard of testimony, presumption of innocence, due process and legal representation.

    And for you alumni perplexed by all this, simply cease to contribute to your alma mater. You’re funding your enemy. And your offsprings’ enemies. Give instead to Cato, REASON, AEI, etc.

    ALL colleges conduct these Star Chamber proceedings, with a few exceptions — such as Hillsdale College.

  7. So a young man goes to college, where he’s told that rape is what his sex partner says it is. Also, that he’s misogynistic by nature, that he’s destroying the planet, and if he’s white, a racist who carries the original sin of slavery and atrocities against American Indians. Oh, and that he’s destroying the planet.

    I’m not surprised that proportionally fewer young men are going to college anymore. I am, however, astonished that more of those who do aren’t going on shooting sprees.

  8. We all know that Lawyers and Professors of liberal arts can not do math . . so no surprise the numbers are faulty.

    Now comes the real reason for the actions – make more lawsuits for all the trial Lawyers that own the Progressive Democrat party. Quid pro Quo you know?

    • We all know the right can find all 50 of the last three conspiracies…. Yes, lawyers benefit. No, lawyers are not driving the campus rape controversy. The drivers are college women who say it is their right to get blotto drunk, pass out and wake up the next morning unmolested. It is analogous to DUI, where public pressure, mostly female, replaced the old attitude that boys will be boys with tough sanctions.

  9. I hope that none of you are ever raped or have a friend who is raped. As someone who was sexually molested as a young child, and who can count at least 10 women friends who have been raped all of them while in high school and college, this conversation makes me so upset. I think the problem is that you may not really know what the aftermath of sexual assault is like – I have dealt with it and have supported my friends through dealing with flashbacks, experiencing anxiety, sometimes crippling anxiety that keeps you from going outside, having all kinds of problems with new boyfriends because you start crying uncontrollably when things start getting physical. If you’re lucky you go through therapy to get back to normal. And this is for years. And then to hear other people scoff at you in national newspapers and say that what you or your friends have gone through is a ‘coveted status’?!?!?!? It’s also cruel to say that it in ANY way is your fault that someone hurt you (even though you already think that because you’ve been well socialized to think that it might actually be reasonable for someone to violate you because you have breasts and a vagina).

    If you think that it’s hard for you that you had to tell your son to listen closely to ‘no’, then I have news for you – you should be doing that anyways because you don’t want him to victimize a woman, knowingly or unknowingly. For some men, it’s ignorance and not malevolence. But it’s still rape, and that woman will pay the price for it.

    George Will’s article is sick and I will not let him get away with it – I’m going to join any effort I can to get him fired. I have news for you gentlemen – it IS a new world order, and you can’t go around molesting anyone anymore without consequences – and by the way, nonconsenual groping HARMS PEOPLE. Women are getting more power to protect themselves and have society to protect them – and you should join them and be proud to do it.

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