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A Campus Sexual Assault Proceeding Gets Political and a Student Sues

A lawsuit alleges a university president intervenes on behalf of the daughter of a wealthy donor.

A male student at the University of Texas at Austin is suing the University of Texas at Austin after the school suspended him for five semesters following a Title IX hearing.

The student, known as John Doe, claims UT President Gregory Fenves unfairly intervened in his sexual assault proceedings––perhaps because the alleged victim is the daughter of a wealthy donor, according to the lawsuit filed Monday.

In April 2016, John Doe engaged in what he thought was consensual sex with a female student after they'd both been drinking. Jane Doe, as she is known in the suit, had five cups of sangria at a sorority boat party––where he'd been drinking, too––when they decided to go back to his apartment. The lawsuit alleges it had been more than four hours since her last drink, and that John asked Jane for her consent before they had sex. She later claimed it was rape and that she had been too drunk to consent.

The University of Texas, as do many other schools, has an affirmative consent sexual conduct policy. The campus is decorated with "Yes Means Yes" posters, and university policy says consent is not effective when someone is incapacitated.

But during campus proceedings in February, a hearing panel sided with John and found that no rape had occurred. The hearing officer said, "the complainant made rational decisions throughout much of the evening prior to and after the sexual intercourse." The lawsuit states "certain facts regarding Jane's consent were never in dispute" throughout the hearing process, including Jane's consent, her consciousness (not incapacitated) during sex , and the absence of force during sex with John.

Jane appealed and Fenves intervened, suspending John Doe and issuing a harsh letter detailing his reasoning. Under school policy, the president has the power to reverse decisions made by administrators in cases like these. Fenves justified his action saying, "someone who is intoxicated cannot give consent to sexual activity because they are incapacitated."

Incapacitation is, unfortunately, a judgement call––a staggering number of college hookups happen while both students are drunk. There is no clear way to prevent it other than by championing the temperance movement, which seems unlikely on the modern college campus.

Moreover, intoxication doesn't always equal incapacitation, and if this becomes the new standard, the floodgates will open for regretful students to claim their sex was assault.

If Jane had been violated or felt out of control, the hearing process (in fact, the hearing determined she hadn't been incapacitated) was the place to find it out. When male students are assumed to be the aggressor, and females are assumed to be victims, hearings are no longer impartial.

John Doe is alleging Fenves violated his right to due process protections, and did so because the alleged victim is a daughter of a wealthy UT donor. The lawsuit calls the president's authority to reverse a decision "despotic in scope," decrying how easily the university appeals process can bend to political pressures, reducing legal protections for students.

The suit specifically mentions Fenves' vested interest in deciding this case in favor of Jane Doe, by "maintaining a 'tough-on-sexual-assault' appearance" in a Title IX case so as not to jeopardize the school's federal funding.

Cases like these aren't indictments of Title IX as a whole, but rather of the legally questionable decisions made by administrators who have grown too powerful. The intervention of the university president sets a dangerous precedent.


Photo Credit: Jay Janner/TNS/Newscom

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  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    There is no clear way to prevent it other than by championing the temperance movement, which seems unlikely on the modern college campus.

    But hotter than ever among progressives.

  • Quixote||

    Tut tut, if you had to deal with the prurient manifestations, including outright criminality, that we see taking place in our classrooms on a daily basis, perhaps then you would realize that something must be done to stop these scoundrels, along with the "satirists" who continually disrupt campus life with inappropriate interventions. Surely no one here would dare to defend the "First Amendment dissent" of a single, isolated, so-called judge in America's leading criminal "parody" case? See the documentation at:

    http://raphaelgolbtrial.wordpress.com/

  • jdgalt1||

    Yes, they're indictments of Title IX as a whole. WTF is wrong with you? Rape accusations belong in front of a real judge with the entire Bill of Rights in force, and nowhere else.

  • GILMORE™||

    Yes, they're indictments of Title IX as a whole. WTF is wrong with you?

    Despite the constant bitching about its effects, the editorial position of the magazine is that Title IX is just swell, and all it needs is slightly 'revised guidance'.

    There have been a few tough-sounding, arms-crossed + foot-stomping pieces about OCR, but when pressed about what "stopping a rogue agency" actually means, they repeatedly cite the 'dear colleague' letter and its enforcement guidance...

    of course, if one administration revises that guidance, the next can simply revise it back to something even more draconian and meddling. (shrug emoji). Whoops!

    Actually dismantling the apparatus of power makes a billion-times more sense, obviously... particularly since woman are already the majority of college students and graduates, and Title IX's original mandate has largely expired. hence the reinterpretation of the law to apply to trannies, toilets, and titty-touching, rather than mere equity of opportunity.

    Its like Reason wrote 1000 screeds against no-knock police raids... but when offered the opportunity to influence policy-making, decided that the best solution to advocate was better-smelling tear-gas.

  • Jen G.||

    More technically it is an indictment of the overreach since the original bill was just meant to make sure women could attend schools receiving federal funding without being bullied. Since the goal was accomplished around 1980 it's just been non-stop justification of title ix administrators' existence ever since.

    All non-discrimination laws should come with built-in defined success criteria that, once met, cause the bill to be retired. Hell, ALL legislation should be equipped that way.

  • ||

    More technically it is an indictment of the overreach since the original bill was just meant to make sure women could attend schools receiving federal funding without being bullied

    The word "bullied" is not in the actual text; it was and is ostensibly about equality of opportunity. Like the Civil Rights Act of 1964 it was entirely superfluous at the time of its passing and exists only as a tool for agents of the government to push people around. You know, bullying.

  • Johnimo||

    You are right on the mark, jdgalt1. What's wrong with these people at Reason? Have they come unglued in the mind? The ONLY place for a rape trial is in a court of law, just as you say. They know they can't win in front of a well rounded jury of the defendent's peers, thus they cling to their kangaroo courts.

  • Marcus Aurelius||

    As someone who was arrested for other issues during college, I was also brought up for conduct charges and forced to do community service for my school as well as the court punishment. Which is fine (though it felt shitty) because the court determined my guilt.

    Title IX is a travesty these days.

  • Fairbanks||

    I disagree. Organizations have a right to discipline outside of the criminal courts. If an employee steals from your company are you going to wait for a criminal conviction to fire her? The problem with these cases is the way they are run.

  • Enjoy Every Sandwich||

    Fenves justified his action saying, "someone who is intoxicated cannot give consent to sexual activity because they are incapacitated."

    By "someone" he means "women". It's obvious that this rule never applies to men.

    Which implies that women are weaker. I thought saying that was verboten?

  • BYODB||

    Well duh, men are the only one's who have agency. Feminists know that women are incapable of thought.

  • Michael Ejercito||

    someone who is intoxicated cannot give consent to sexual activity because they are incapacitated

    So how do drunk drivers have mens rea?

  • Cynical Asshole||

    That's different because, as everyone knows, womyn lose all agency upon the ingestion of even a small amount of alcohol. The science is settled!

  • ||

    That's different because, as everyone knows, womyn lose all agency upon the ingestion of even a small amount of alcohol.

    A certain interpretation of domestic violence statistics indicates that they have less agency to begin with and alcohol merely diminishes it from there.

    If you spun it the right way, you could probably do a Ph.D. in a 'hard' science establishing mechanisms linking/explaining the strong agency/biomass correlation.

  • Cynical Asshole||

    The lawsuit alleges it had been more than four hours since her last drink, and that John asked Jane for her consent before they had sex.

    Ah, but it sounds like he forgot to get her to sign the consent form in triplicate and also forgot to have her take a breathalyzer test and attach the results of the test to the forms prior to getting it on, so GUILTY! /sarc

  • Longtobefree||

    Don't go giving them ideas!

  • Anomalous||

    Also, the consent form needs to be notarized.

  • Archibald Baal||

    If an accused criminal were found not guilty and a judge were allowed to overrule that, find them guilty, and then sentence them anyway, people would lose their shit.

    This is the exact same thing.* Why can people not see this?

    *Actually, it's worse, because of the Dear Colleague letter that tells the "court" in question to use "preponderance of evidence" standards instead of something stronger. But simplicity.

  • Crusty Juggler||

    Cases like these aren't indictments of Title IX as a whole, but rather of the legally questionable decisions made by administrators who have grown too powerful.

    As of last year, the average pay for Texas state university chancellors and presidents is almost seven figures.

  • Marcus Aurelius||

    That's barely minimum wage, in Seattle.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Lawsuits like these are one way to dismantle the lefty academia and use the laws they pushed for against them.

  • BYODB||

    Or they would be, if public university systems weren't swimming in basically free money.

  • damikesc||

    Incapacitation is, unfortunately, a judgement call––a staggering number of college hookups happen while both students are drunk.

    Doesn't seem to be for colleges.

    Girl drunk = rape
    Guy drunk = not rape
    Both drunk = dude is a rapist.

    They seem pretty consistent on this laughably terrible double standard.

    Cases like these aren't indictments of Title IX as a whole

    Why are they not?

    Women are already the majority of college students. The NEED for Title IX now seems to be non-existent. And leaving men --- and, mind you, it tends to ONLY be men --- stuck in a system where a woman's regret becomes rape and the guy cannot defend himself seems like a rather vicious perversion of justice.

    People may hate MRA's, but it's not like a lot of their complaints lack merit. They tend to make more cogent cases than feminists do.

  • Marcus Aurelius||

    Wimmenz are not as good at the logic. The have the feelz.

  • colorblindkid||

    Incapacitation is, unfortunately, a judgement call.

    I don't find that unfortunate at all.

  • Agnes||

    Back in my college days of the late ots, a woman knew the difference between regret sex and sexual assault. And not trying be dramaztic, but when you've been in both situations, you understand the difference. Sexual assault is forceful and there is no denying you are not in control of the situation no matter how much or how little you've had to drink. Unless she was drugged, was incoherently black out drunk, or forced into a situation which she was not agreeing to be in or with a partner who was forcing themselves on her, this is good old fashioned regret sex. It happens to the best of us, and we all just deal with it because we stupidly, but willingly, made bad decisions. If people can drunkenly order a pizza or go through the taco bell drive through and purchase cheap shit food, they can willingly make other bad decisions which they may regret in the morning. While drunk, people regretfully eat, dance, chain smoke cigarettes, smoke pot, drunk sext, call mom to tell her she's the greatest, write the best short story idea ever, cry and make new best friends...you get the idea. Anything is possible when drunk. So using your body in a sexual way with another human being is not off limits.

  • Longtobefree||

    Well sure, Agnes. Way back then women were rational individuals with free will. But now they are mindless foils of the fascist state, incapable of any independent thought or opinion, and totally dependent on others to determine what they actually did or did not do on any given evening.
    (As long as there is a male somewhere in the organizational chain of command. Notice how it always gets back to a man in charge?)

  • Dillinger||

    people regretfully . . . smoke pot

    they're doing it wrong.

  • Johnimo||

    Ahh .... the beauty of few words well chosen. Thank you, Dillinger.

  • Longtobefree||

    "Cases like these aren't indictments of Title IX as a whole"
    It absolutely, totally, unquestionably, IS!

    Like airports and federal buildings, college campuses have become constitution-free zones.
    If ol' John Doe didn't want his life ruined based on the whim of a woman, and then an administrator, why the hell did he go to college!?

  • Dillinger||

    Under school policy, the president has the power to reverse decisions made by administrators in cases like these.

    then how does Title IX apply @UT? sounds Venezuelan.

  • Tionico||

    or kafkaesque

  • Marcus Aurelius||

    You know who else had the power to reverse decisions?

  • Dillinger||

    Cases like these aren't indictments of Title IX as a whole

    please. Title IX is codified PC...i thought Reason hates PC

  • EscherEnigma||

    Look, the problem with all this university rape case stuff is that schools aren't set up to be a surrogate justice system.

    But the reason they've wound up in that territory is because police and prosecutors are unwilling to treat most rape cases seriously.

    Until you fix the problem with police, the universities will continue to find themselves in this position.

  • GILMORE™||

    police and prosecutors are unwilling to treat most rape cases seriously.

    What's your evidence for this?

  • Johnimo||

    There usually is no evidence. That's the reason the cases cannot usually be taken too seriously. It's just "he said" versus "she said," and the left cannot abide that lack of evidence when they want to make a case for the evil of men.

  • EscherEnigma||

    Google "untested rape kits".

  • GILMORE™||

    Untested rape kits are just evidence of untested rape kits. Maybe that's evidence that lots of accusers retracted their accusations?

    There are plenty of explanations for a single stat other than, "police and prosecutors are unwilling to treat most rape cases seriously"

    Perhaps (as Johnimo says) there are lots of unserious allegations? I have not seen any information suggesting that police are somehow disinterested in prosecuting rapists if they DO have compelling evidence that a crime occurred.

  • Marcus Aurelius||

    Google "false rape society".

  • Chili Dogg||

    College administrators seem to think that their students should not be subject to the same laws and legal proceedings that the rest of us are subject to. Go to college and laws don't apply to you!

    Someone might get booted out of school (fairly or unfairly, as the case may be), but they seldom go to jail, though they might actually be a rapist. I am going to go out on a limb and say that I think they should be subject to the same laws against rape that we non-students are subject to.

  • Johnimo||

    Chill, dog ... aren't you aware of how unfair it would be for women to be "subject to the same laws against rape that we non-students are subject to." You insensitive boob.

  • Longtobefree||

    you can't say boob!
    Sexist trigger panic.

  • Ragoftag||

    "Cases like these aren't indictments of Title IX as a whole..."

    Yes they are! Title IX no longer resembles the original debate on the bill and has been distorted beyond recognition. Schools have to build ball fields for non-existent female athletes and then give scholarships to girls who really don't want to participate in a sport. A HS was forced to build a diamond for the girls, but wasn't allowed to have it used by their boys teams. Another built a real nice gym for the girls that never had over 200 in the 1200 seats, while the boys' 'hall' made do with an old Quonset hut and 500 seats. Our school lost four of the popular mens' sports to bring in a huge tennis program for girls only. The boys had to practice at the city courts. With 8 courts, the girls never had more than a dozen sign up a year, with only 28 my senior year (4 years).

    Not that I really cared, I was a geek/nerd and cared nothing for sports.

  • Longtobefree||

    Maybe so, but think of how much better you would be if all that money had been spent on better computers.

  • LarryA||

    Except that the ball fields are probably still there, while the computers would be landfill by now.

  • MarkLastname||

    OT: What the fuck is wrong with Reason's webpages? When I try to scroll down to the comments it keeps trying to infinitely expand the page with more suggested articles and crap.

  • p3orion||

    "[T]he floodgates will open for regretful students to claim their sex was assault."

    What makes you think they're not open now?

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