Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Campus rapes: Doumenting stories

So a friend sent me another campus rape culture story and it occurs to me I should put them all in one place.   My historian's instinct tells me that action comes from understanding and that if we compile these stories, we can see the patterns, ask the right questions, and come up with the right answers. 

The Campus Rape Culture Series Posts

Part 1

Part 2 

Part 3

I'll add more as I get them.  Leave links in the comments and I'll post to this page.

NB:  This list is about inadequate responses by administrators and/or struggles to get help.  




U of Chicago


Central College, Iowa 

UC Berkeley

Johns Hopkins    (featuring friend of the blog Carrie Andrews). 


Amherst (Similar to the U Chicago in many ways)



  1. FIRE et al also concern themselves with people falsely accused of rape--or accused of it in circumstances that would lead to acquittal in an actual court with a presumption of innocence--and railroaded by the college administrators, expelled from college wrongfully, etc. I do think the crucial point is that colleges are not equipped to do justice, not least because they are concerned with their own reputation primarily, and that all such issues should be dealt with immediately by the regular courts. This is so as to maximize justice both to those who are victims of crime, and those who are falsely accused of crime.

    I note, inter alia, that is a very expensive "best solution", given legal costs. But still best, all in all.

  2. In Part 3, I tried to tackle this. Does the Viking get kicked out in that scenario if you are going to court? Maybe, maybe not. But trust me, the Viking deserved to get kicked out. Now imagine that my roommate was a woman. They go to court. What crime did the Viking commit? And he's got a great defense now, "she invited me, and changed her mind, no harm, no foul."

    Incidentally, since I posted the story about my roommate, I heard from several women with similar stories and in each case it never occurred to them to go get their RA or leave before things got worse. They all tried to defuse the situation themselves and assumed nobody would believe them, or that such matters should be handled privately, or that they would put themselves in more danger by leaving. That's a huge piece of cultural work we need to do right there.

  3. BTW, Fire has gotten involved in two "false accusation" cases since 2007, the North Dakota case and a Stanford case that isn't resolved yet (although the Stanford case hinges on a procedural change made during the case). At least in terms of cases I could find on the website. So false accusations aren't exactly a huge issue here.

  4. I wonder if the college hadn't been ready to go after the Viking, if it would have. E.g., if that student hadn't already established himself as a person on the deans' radar, and your roommate had insisted that he ought to get kicked out, would he have been? This in part I think has been the issue here: that the ways that the admissions office, administration and faculty relate to students is via the accumulation of micro-narratives of assessment--intellectual, moral, intersubjective. Someone whose story is "already told" becomes much easier (or harder) to judge if and when a judgment (academic, judicial, financial, etc.) is required. A system that tries to create a sort of objective, detached, non-narrativized legal personhood for this one system and no other is going to be up against the weight of the rest of the web of support and assessment and understanding that many though not all students at any small private school (even a K-12) have threading through their relationships to the institution and to each other.

  5. Tim,
    I don't doubt that at all. But the fact that my roommate believed the system would work for him (and it did) makes it that much easier to a) get out of the situation before the Viking did something more horrible than pee in our fridge and b) compile a rap sheet on the Viking. The Viking was actually the second guy kicked off our hall that year: both for guy on guy violent acts but that were essentially he-said she saids. If that makes sense.

    BTW, we didn't even insist that the Viking be gone. He just was.