Title IX

Texas Lawmaker Proposes Campus Rape Law So Crazy Even Title IX Defenders Are Skeptical

Baylor's problems are serious, but this isn't a great solution.

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Baylor
Brentsalter

A member of the Texas legislature has proposed a series of bills aimed at curbing sexual assault on college campuses. Some are good, others are bad—and one is uniquely extreme.

If approved, they would undoubtedly move Texas to the front of the pack in terms of aggressive anti-rape measures. But they mount an additional challenge to due process on campus, and would even punish completely innocent students and faculty members who fail to notify administrators about a potential assault or act of harassment.

State Senator Kirk Watson, a Democrat, filed five campus rape bills earlier this week in response to serious issues at Baylor University, where 31 football players are accused of committing 52 acts of sexual misconduct over a three-year period, according to The Dallas Morning News. He's also a co-sponsor of another measure, put forth by State Senator Joan Huffman, a Republican, that would require members of campus to report sexual harassment and assault to the university president within 48 hours of learning about it.

Note that this bill, SB 576, doesn't just apply to victims—it applies to all university employees, as well as "the highest ranking member of a student organization" at any institution of higher learning in the state of Texas who becomes aware of sexual misconduct. It also requires the party with knowledge of sexual misconduct to report the victim's name, address, "and any other pertinent information concerning the incident." This does not apply if the victim wishes such information to remain secret, but let's keep in mind that the third party is only given 48 hours to report the incident. What if a staff member witnesses something he believes could constitute sexual harassment, doesn't know whether the victim wants to remain anonymous, and feels compelled by the law to report?

Failing to report would be a Class A misdemeanor: a $4,000 fine and up to a year in jail.

This approach is totally unfeasible, for a host of reasons. For one thing, "harassment" is an increasingly murky category of sexual misconduct on campus. Many universities, at the behest of the federal Education Department, define it very broadly—essentially, as any unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature, including jokes and inappropriate remarks that constitute protected expression.

The idea that victims and bystanders should be forced to respond to sexual misconduct in a particular way is actually vehemently opposed by many of the most strident anti-rape activists. It's one point of general agreement between due process civil libertarians and Title IX feminists. The Dallas Morning News quoted a Title IX lawyer as predicting that SB 576 "will create a chilling atmosphere on campus for everyone."

The other five bills contain a mix of good and bad provisions. One would establish something resembling a "Good Samaritan" law. Good Samaritan provisions grant immunity to people who are fearful of reporting a crime because they themselves could be subjected to some lesser prosecution: i.e., underage drinking. These provisions are a great way to encourage people to help others who are in need of police assistance.

Less noble is Watson's bill to make Texas an affirmative consent state. Affirmative consent requires participants in a sexual encounter to receive a "yes" before proceeding—which sounds good in theory but falls apart when scrutinized. Since nonverbal cues are often considered good enough to satisfy the affirmative consent test, the standard always eventually requires college administrators to make intrusive judgment calls about which party was initiating what, whose unconscious signal should count, etc.

The Dallas Morning News cites a dubious statistic in defense of these bills:

National surveys have proved the pervasiveness of sexual assault, harassment and stalking on college campuses. In one 2015 study conducted by the Association of American Universities, nearly 1 in 4 undergraduate women said they'd been sexually assaulted since enrolling in college. But experts consider these numbers artificially low, since up to half of victims at a campus like Texas A&M University also said they didn't turn in their attacker because they "felt ashamed, embarrassed or that it would be too emotionally difficult."

Well, other experts think the number of actual rapes on college campuses is much lower, since studies that arrive at the 1-in-5 statistic often define sexual misconduct in broad terms. (Read Reason's Elizabeth Nolan Brown for more on the subject.)

It is true, though, that Baylor has an egregious sexual misconduct problem unlike almost anything else in the country: the sheer volume of accusations is staggering. There's also evidence that everyone from Baylor's administration to its football coaches to the Waco police department was complicit in an effort to cover up the problem. In general, cops and courts should handle sex crimes, not professors and administrators—but this is one situation where the criminal justice system failed miserably.

A legislative effort to reform Texas's anemic approach to a sexual assault crisis at a particular campus would be wholly justified. But policymakers should concentrate on fixing whatever is broken within the police departments and court systems. Making colleges handle rape internally is a recipe for disaster (and lawsuits).

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35 responses to “Texas Lawmaker Proposes Campus Rape Law So Crazy Even Title IX Defenders Are Skeptical

  1. Putting the perps in jail isn’t the simple solution?

  2. Today in Everyting is Racist:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/newsbeat/…..ad-t-shirt

    1. Holy shit this is one of the worst yet.

    2. Even without the racist nursery rhyme, the blood-stained baseball bat wrapped in barbed wire is made of either Ash or Maple but, in either case, it would be White Ash or White Maple. The implications are obvious.

      1. Good point. Lol

    3. Gee, thanks for ruining that nursery rhyme for me. Gonna have to go catch some tigers to purge that one from my brain.

    4. Oh, FFS. In the episode in question, IIRC Negan even used the non-racist version of the rhyme “catch a tiger by the toe.” Because apparently, as bad a guy as he is, he’s not a racist (which is the worst thing you can be, natch). I bet the pants-wetting busybody who complained doesn’t even watch the show and probably didn’t even understand the reference in the first place.

      1. I bet the pants-wetting busybody who complained doesn’t even watch the show and probably didn’t even understand the reference in the first place.

        Customer Ian Lucraft, who complained about the top to Primark, and his wife Gwen had been in a Sheffield branch of the store when they spotted the item of clothing.

        “We were shocked when we came face to face with a new T-shirt with a racially explicit graphic and text,” he told The Sheffield Star.

        “It was fantastically offensive and I can only assume that no-one in the process of ordering it knew what they were doing, or were aware of its subliminal messages.

        “The graphic has a large American baseball bat, wrapped round with barbed wire, and covered with blood.

        “This image relates directly to the practice of assaulting black people in America.

        “It is directly threatening of a racist assault, and if I were black and were faced by a wearer I would know just where I stood.”

        Looks like I was right. Fuck off, you ignorant wanker! Would it make you fell better, snowflake, to know that the person that was chosen in the show was a white ginger?

        1. “This image relates directly to the practice of assaulting black people in America.

          And these limeys know all about the practice of assaulting black people in America.

      2. Because apparently, as bad a guy as he is, he’s not a racist (which is the worst thing you can be, natch).

        Not racist? Oh, right *spoiler alert* fuck gingers!

        1. Aw damn, refresh!

        2. Gingers aren’t a race, they’re just creepy and soulless.

      3. Arbitrarily picking someone to kill is just fine. But referring to a rhyme that in some versions, that no one ever uses anymore, was racist is right out.

    5. “We were shocked when we came face to face with a new T-shirt with a racially explicit graphic and text,”

      What does “explicit” mean again?

      1. apparently it means ‘so coded and concealed that it can’t be seen by anyone without these special glasses’.

  3. “Making colleges handle rape internally is a recipe for disaster”

    Agreed

    1. They could subcontract to STEVE SMITH.

  4. Affirmative consent requires participants in a sexual encounter to receive a “yes” before proceeding?which sounds good in theory

    Whose theory? The theory of someone who’s never done it before? Do you have something to tell us, Robby?

  5. State Senator Kirk Watson, a Democrat[…]

    Only because they pay you by the word but you could’ve ended that sentence with “… Need I say more?” and drop the keyboard like a boss, and achieved the same result.

    You didn’t need to say more. I got the picture at that point.

    1. Um… what?

  6. they didn’t turn in their attacker because they “felt ashamed,

    “I shouldn’t have had that drunken hookup.”

    embarrassed

    “Especially with that guy.”

    or that it would be too emotionally difficult.”

    “My friends will never let me hear the end of this.”

  7. >>>>>It is true, though, that Baylor has an egregious sexual misconduct problem unlike almost anything else in the country:

    It is? Baylor is higher than the 1 in 5 stat?

    1. Every female student gets raped an average of 5 times. Not funny.

  8. If this becomes law, and there is any justice in the world, within 48 hours the campus police will have been notified of EVERY SINGLE TOUCH made by couples, cis, hetero, homo, insert category here because the witness was aware of it, and it might have been unwanted contact, and they were REQUIRED to report it.

    1. At which point, the campus police, department of title IX bullshit, department of diversity and inclusion, and any other administrative department even tangentially involved will be screaming for a bigger budget.

  9. My memory is a little fuzzy and I’m to lazy to double check these facts. Once upon a time Texass allowed for, and still may allow, castration of rapists. Ooooooo, that smarts. So I don’t see any problem trying to reduce rape on campus. The 31 football payers accused of committing 52 acts of “sexual misconduct” in 3 years at a “nationally ranked christian” university (quote straight from their web site) makes it sound like the university is whipping out its old testament when “educating” women, and I don’t see anything “racist” about that. A few years ago a man (I think in Nevada) raped a girl about 8 in a public restroom while a second man watched. Prosecutors failed to charge the peeper because there was no law requiring him to report rape. The girl was murdered. So I don’t have any problem with requiring reporting of a possible rape.

  10. So they finally made ass sex legal and now sex itself requires a government license.

    Hardly seems worth it.

  11. Leftists are at it again!

  12. I’ll agree with much of Robby’s take about Baylor’s role in this case, because there are alleged incidents at Baylor where fairly senior people – the football coach, people in the administration – had alleged rapes reported to them but either did nothing about it or even actively tried to cover up the situation.

    The Waco PD also reportedly didn’t do its job in at least some cases, though if Robby’s going to write “this is one situation where the criminal justice system failed miserably”, he should also note that players were tried and convicted of sexual assault in 2014 and 2015.

  13. Has this story gotten much national coverage, outside of coverage at ESPN due to the sports angle? I can’t judge that well, because I live in Texas and there’s been a large amount of coverage here.

    I’m asking because virtually all of the identified perpetrators and alleged perpetrators are African-American football players at Baylor, and this wouldn’t be the first time that actual campus sexual assaults (as opposed to Rolling Stone at UVA) seem to get less coverage based on the race of the assailants / alleged assailants.

  14. Compelling people to speak with regard to people who are able to speak for themselves is always a bad idea.

  15. Here i thought folks left CA for TX to get away from this kind of statist bullshit…

  16. Re: “harassment” is an increasingly murky category of sexual misconduct on campus.

    I sincerely believe it all could have been so very different — so much better — between men and women. Maybe there’s still hope. See:

    “How We Waded Into The Sexual Harassment Quagmire: Digging Out With True Equality” http://malemattersusa.wordpres…..-quagmire/

    This may be the most thorough analysis you can find of what I think has for many decades been the sexes’ most alienating and destructive behavioral difference. I believe this difference results in much of what is called sexual assault of women.

  17. Note to Robby: “i.e.” Doesn’t mean “for example.” It means “specifically” or “that is.” (Sorry commentariat, but this is a pet peeve of mine. Especially when used wrongly by journalists)

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