About this time of year many educators are encouraging new students to please, please, go to student orientation on campus. Skip the bars for a couple of hours and learn something that will matter. Attend a sexual assault workshop. Know the definition of informed consent. Don't take it for granted that what you do on a date won't come back to haunt you.
And then there are people like Peter Berkowitz bemoaning that schools literally legislate what students should think and say. These rules, originally there to combat sex discrimination, are direct from the federal government. Schools that benefit from federal funding (i.e., almost all of them) must comply to the statutes and amendments of Title IX of the Civil Rights Act. Institutions receiving federal funding must: (1) educate both students and teachers about the law;
(2) report all incidences of known sexual assault on campus to the U.S. Department of Education; and (3) adjudicate complaints.
Mr. Berkowitz believes that the campus adjudication process unfairly favors the victim, unjustly leads to the expulsion of the perpetrator. Ruins his life.
Interesting to those of us who see the victims in therapy, when they should be in school. They are young men and women who have dropped out, who never even thought to tell over their experiences as rape victims, not to the schools, certainly, not even to parents or friends. They dropped out, dropped off the map. Just couldn't concentrate, you know.
But unfair, unjust things happen to young perpetrators of acquaintance rape, don't you know, because, according to Mr. Berkowitz,
On campus, where casual sex is celebrated and is frequently fueled by alcohol, the ambiguity that often attends sexual encounters is heightened and the risk of error in rape cases is increased.Well yes, if they're not up to speed. Getting there is the point of the workshops Berkowitz feels are so intrusive, so likely to hamstring free thought, this illiberal education the kids are getting these days, the one about sexual violence. Oh, dear. Perhaps we shouldn't teach them to look both ways crossing the streets, either, or not to shoot people, to obey walk signs. All restrictions of freedoms.
Mr. Berkowitz believes that when schools try the accused, that guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, the standard of civil jurisprudence, is diluted, replaced by the preponderance of evidence standard.
That may be true. But my understanding is different (the picture above with all those book, represents some of my understanding).
Procedures vary from school to school. In many schools the jury is a board composed of peers, or students who are impartial, and the accused and the one accusing, have a say in its composition. Rarely is a young man who has committed acquaintance rape and been through the process expelled. Rather, he learns definitions, laws. He is changed for the better, more empathetic. He has had a little sorely needed psychotherapy, and found that it didn't hurt, and to preserve his future and his self-respect, is sure to restrain himself the next time.
Poor guy. Doesn't even realize he's suffered an illiberal education!
Well before school begins, to add insult to injury, all incoming students receive student handbooks in the mail, or are encouraged to read them online. Their parents are encouraged, even psychologically pressured, to read the handbook (talk about riling up our founding fathers), as well. And these very same parents are encouraged to reinforce the rules of the institution. Should students break certain rules, i.e., commit felonies, they might be asked to leave.
Sexual assault orientation is generally conducted by students, themselves young people familiar with the matter. They reinforce awareness, recognition and treatment, what to do when someone you know has confided a rape. The engaging programs educate about the other Title IX laws that protect against ethnic harassment, racial and gender discrimination. The protected classes keep growing, dependent upon jurisdiction.
When it comes to sex, however, it is all about informed consent. It isn't that one cannot have sex while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, which precludes informed consent. Most everyone's judgement is compromised under the influence. To be sure that sex is what both partners want, that both will be happy with the decision the morning after, the question of whether or not we'll have sex tonight is something that might be discussed before the real partying begins, before one loses one faculties. (Uh, oh, there goes that free will.)
Speaking of faculties, Mr. Berkowitz wants to know,
Where are the professors of literature who will patiently point out that, particularly when erotic desire is involved, intentions can be obscure, passions conflicting, the heart murky and the soul divided?They're writing books, sir, like the ones above. And they have spent a good deal of time at work, on campus, and have already attended a workshop.
Where are the professors of science . . .the professors of political science . . . law, . . .
Or perhaps they know someone who has been raped. Maybe a sister, a niece, a daughter. Most of us know someone.
Linda Freedman, LCSW, LMFT, PhD