Spiked Magazine Panel – “Title IX: Feminism, Sex & Censorship on Campus”

Spiked Magazine Panel – “Title IX: Feminism, Sex & Censorship on Campus”

October 24, 2019 17 By Stanley Isaacs


– [Tom] Before we move on,
I just wanna say one thing which is kinda the elephant in the room, so Unsafe Space is a campus tour, the idea being that we’re going to, I feel like I’m whistling a little bit. – [Woman] Maybe if you
shift a bit this way, yeah. – I can move up a little bit. If it happens again, let me know. So I’ll just project but, so, the idea of the campus tour is
really to try and get beyond what I think we might recognize
as a kind of pantomime, a kind of farce that’s sort of engulfed the free speech debate, in
particular over the past year, so really try and create
a opposition to this new censorship, to this
new authoritarianism, but to do in a way that is trying to cast more light than heat. Now the reason, as you
might notice, that we’re not on a campus right now is
that that’s actually quite a difficult thing to do these days. I’m gonna keep the volume down. And so, of course, as many of
you I’m sure will be aware, this panel was originally
supposed to be at American University in an auditorium
but unfortunately due to various reasons I
won’t go into too much, the room we had booked
for a very long time, all signed off, was
canceled at the last minute. And so we’ve had to very
quickly rearrange here. I’m not going to relitigate
that too much but what I’ll say it’s a bit of
a shame, the first stop on the Unsafe Space tour
turned out to be too unsafe for American University,
but nevertheless on that I want to say a big thank
you to Annamarie Riende from Young Americans
for Liberty who not only organized a great event
at American University but also helped put that
together, to bring it here, and of course to Elizabeth
Nolan Brown and everyone at Reason, for taking
us in, the little waifs and strays that we are,
to make sure that we could go ahead with this debate tonight, so thank you very much for that. So first of all let’s get
on to the topic itself, so Title IX, so on the
face of it, Title IX seems like the most uncontroversial thing imaginable, a federal
statute which outlaws sexist discrimination in
public funded institutions, yet over the years it’s
something which has expanded kind of mutated, moved
from being something very distinct to something which
is seemingly mandating campus sexual assault
proceedings, for instance, and definitions of sexual
harassment have seemed to expand to such an
extent that someone like Laura Kipniss, a feminist
academic at Northwestern University is submitted to
a Title IX investigation for criticizing Title
IX, so that’s something that we really want to
look at, this is a very contentious debate, a
lot of hard arguments on either side between
wanting to protect women on campus but on the other
side feeling this goes too far that it’s waking up
something resembling a hysteria and of course a couple of
weeks ago, the announcement from Betsy DeVos, the
education secretary that she was indeed going to rein in, pour gasoline on that fire, so partly this
discussion is on whether or not that reining in is a good thing, for students rights on campus,
for free speech on campus, for women and men on campus, but also I hope to dig
down a little bit deeper into the cultural and
political trends that have brought us to this point. Title IX at the end of
the day is only a piece of paper, why has it
grown, why has it mutated, what does that say about what
we think about campus life and students and women and
men together on campus, nowadays it’s led to this point. So I’m delighted to be
joined by really a fantastic panel, an expert panel to discuss this, you might be noticing that
we’re actually one short, because unfortunately Nadine
Strossen, former president of the ACLU, civil libertarian,
author, bit of a hero, unfortunately couldn’t be
here, she was taken ill yesterday and is actually in
hospital, she’s absolutely fine, it’s just a bit of
exhaustion and she’s absolutely gutted that she can’t be
here tonight but in the midst of what’s usually a very
hectic schedule she’s taking some well earned rest and
while we miss her we’re going to carry on, regardless. So I’m going to introduce
the speakers in the order in which they’ll speak,
and then after that they’ll speak for about
five minutes, we’ll have some discussion up here in the
panel and as soon as possible we’ll kick it out to you
guys for some more points, questions and some more discussion. So speaking first in the
middle there is Robert Shibley, Robert is the associate
director at the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, he’s worked on hundreds
of cases with students, and academics and faculty
on free speech cases, on due process cases and
most currently for tonight he’s the author of a fantastic
book, Twisting Title IX, which is a bit of a history
as well as an expose in some respects on
the Title IX phenomenon and its excesses, so it’s
fantastic to have Robert here. Speaking after Robert on my immediate left is Ella Whelon, Ella Whelan
is Spiked’s assistant editor. She’s the coordinator of our free speech university rankings
which is our fire style campus censorship lead table in the UK, and she’s also the author of a new book, What Women Want, Fun, Freedom,
and an End to Feminism, which is a polemical,
fascinating, and a call to arms really for a new women’s
liberation movement which leaves behind the authoritarian term of feminism, so please pick that up. And finally on the far left
there is Elizabeth Nolan Brown. Of course of Reason,
associate editor here, writes about public policy,
culture of current affairs from a libertarian feminist perspective, has written for everyone from
Politico, LA Times, Fox News, you name it, it’s fantastic
to have her here as well. So each of the panelists
is going to speak for about five minutes, as soon as
possible we’re going to kick it out to you guys, as
I’m sure you’ve noticed, there’s many on the panel
are of a similar critical type view, and one of
the shames of not being able to hold this at American University is a lot of the students we
knew who were coming were coming to criticize and to
make their points across now don’t have the opportunity,
I do hope that some have made it across because
we didn’t want to trade one echo chamber for
another but nevertheless, I’m sure it’s going to
be a great discussion so Robert, do you want
to kick us off here? – Yeah thank you, thank
you for that generous introduction and I’m glad
that we’re able to be here and thank you to Spiked
and certainly to Reason for stepping up at the
last minute like that, we really appreciate it. Since I’m going first, let
me give a little bit of a very abbreviated and
probably overly simplified history of Title IX and how we got here. And one thing I should start out with is when you talk about Title IX, generally speaking people
think of it in athletics, has generally been the history of it and in fact when it was put into place in 1972, that was actually
one of the main concerns was the low level of women’s participation in college sports and
from that perspective, Title IX has actually been
a really smashing success, by about, I saw a graph
talk about it in my book, by 1985, the representation
of women in college sports had shot up so much and it
really hasn’t moved a lot since so in that fairly
short span of years, we really got to the
representation level we have now. So when it comes to athletics, Title IX, there’s still controversy,
obviously that has to do with it but that part of the
controversy doesn’t have a lot to do with what we’re
here today to talk about. What Title IX says,
it’s a pretty short law, and the part of it that
is actually operational is I think 29 words,
and these are the words, no person in the United States, shall, on the basis of sex, be
excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or
be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance. That sort of makes it sounds like it only applies to public schools. It does not because federal
financial assistance includes just about every government grant obviously you get and also
Pell grants and Stafford Loans, so there’re only a handful
of schools in the country, all private schools, to which
Title IX does not apply. So for all practical purposes it applies at every school in the country. It wasn’t long after it’s passage that feminist scholars realized that Title IX could be used
for more than athletics and another big aspect of
it was that it started to, it was a big part of the reason that we don’t have so many
single sex colleges anymore. It started to really close the door on the ability to run single sex higher
education programs easily. And the most prominent is
somebody who is known to anybody who knows anything about feminism, Catherine McKinnen, who as a student and an early on advocate,
this is her thing, pushed at Yale for people to bring a case that would start to use Title IX as a way to address sexual
harassment on campuses, the idea being that Title
IX bans sex discrimination, that’s the words it uses, it
wasn’t clearly established at the time although it was
an idea that was out there, it wasn’t clearly established
that sexual harassment was a form of discrimination. But through a case,
Alexander V Yale, 1977, even though it was a loss in court, they weren’t able to demonstrate
any sexual harassment had taken place, they were
able to establish the principle that sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination under Title IX. Since then, as Tom was talking about, it has expanded from there, because there are a lot
of different categories, things you can put into the
rubric of sex discrimination. You can add in things like
obviously sexual harassment, sexual assault is not
considered to be part of it because it is considered to
be, interestingly enough, it’s not in there cause it’s a crime, it’s in there because
it is considered to be an extremely severe form
of sexual harassment and therefore a form of
sexual discrimination. That’s the reach that
Title IX has onto it. We’re also seeing it being
read into issues of gender, and to the extent that
sex and gender are not coterminous which is not a debate we need to get into, there’s also debate over to what extent did
the authors of Title IX be interpreted to cover gender identity as opposed to just sex, so there’s a lot of
different complicated things and the Obama administration
made what Fire thinks was a bad decision back in 2011 on April 4th, they
released this now infamous Dear Colleague letter
which has the most boring title possible but it was
actually very exciting in a bad way for both Fire
and civil libertarians and for colleges and universities. It was the administration’s attempt to edit what we think and what I think, I think we’re right on this,
is a new interpretation of Title IX and basically
saying that the law required, in order for you to be
compliant with the law, you needed to have campus
tribunals to determine whether or not sexual assault or sexual misconduct had happened, and those tribunals, whatever they are and they could be a single investigator, they could basically be an inquisitor, and I’m using that in
a non pejorative way. There’s a reason why it
has a pejorative term and I’m sure we’ll get into that, it has a connotation of that, you need to use the preponderance
of evidence standard which is this 50.01%, there’s
a lot of different ways of putting it, 50% plus a feather. Basically how certain do you
have to be that it happened, you have to be, in order
to declare that somebody’s responsible for sexual misconduct, 50% sure plus a tiny tiny bit. A lot of schools were already
using that, some were not, and it was a new regulation,
effectively from the government that said now all schools have to use it to be compliant with Title IX. They also discouraged cross examination, and particularly of the direct kind. And there’s some understanding for that. Obviously when you have
a rape case on campus, it is extremely awkward and uncomfortable to have somebody questioning the person that they are accused of
victimizing and vice versa. So that was discouraged, unfortunately what ended up happening is
the opportunity for anybody to cross examine them or for you to ask questions that got to credibility
was also being curtailed. So this became a pretty big issue and sort of got swept up in the
fervor for regulatory reform as well because it was such a step past what the traditional
roles of regulation were. Fire actually sponsored a
lawsuit by a John Doe plaintiff and also Oklahoma Wesleyen University, challenging the preponderance mandate and that lawsuit was in the pipeline, and is still actually in court right now but it was just last
week that secretary DeVos and the department of Education officially announced that
they would be rescinding the 2011 Dear Colleague
letter and this even longer I think 39 page long 2014
guidance that was trying to clear up a bunch of the confusion that had happened from the letter. And so that’s where we are now. We are going to be looking forward to, this seems weird to say it, particularly in a
libertarian venue like this but we’re looking forward
to the regulatory process where believe it or not,
people have more of a say than they did last time. So sorry, I think I’ve gone overtime but hopefully that gives you
an idea of where we are now. – No that’s perfect, thank you Robert, really useful just to
set up the development, and Ella, your thoughts please. – Thank you, Tom. I just want to start off by
stating really the obvious in that this is kind of
a really crazy situation that we find ourselves
in, it’s a really crazy situation that women find
themselves in on campus and I think it’s a really grave situation, the problem with Title IX
and especially the reaction to DeVos’ statement took me aback about how strongly divisive this issue is, because to me it’s really very obvious that the way that Title IX was being used before
DeVos’ statement and change really undermines women’s freedom, it creates a situation in which women are not free on campus, their
sexual freedom is undermined, that their every move
between the opposite sex is subject to scrutiny,
could possibly be involved in an investigation, been
taken out of their hands in certain circumstances. The idea that your
personal private matters, your encounters, your relationships, your view of yourself as
an autonomous individual could be subject to an investigation by some Title IX officer
really kind of shakes me and I think for a lot of
women it’s a terrifying idea. And of course this piece
of law has ended up in damaging quite a few men’s lives and that’s something that
we can perhaps talk about but the thing that I
really want to focus on in my opening comments
is how this is really detrimental to women,
how this really hurts women’s freedom at an
all time low on campus and it completely undermines any notion of the fight for women’s liberation. And just to kind of
break down why I think, and why I feel so strongly
about this and why I think it is such a threat,
that there’s certain ways that many of you’ll be familiar
of with cases of Title IX of how it really
undermines women’s freedom. The first is obviously the obvious, the way it polices sex, the way
that any kind of interaction that isn’t going along
these very restricted lines, we can talk about affirmative consent, the kind of policing of whether or not that was consensual at different
points in the encounter is something really worrying, the idea that a women’s sexual life can be subject to scrutiny, can in some cases be taken
out of her own hands, there have been cases in
which a women has said, “No, this was consensual,
please leave me alone,” and the Title IX officer
continues to pursue the case. The second one is the policing of privacy which may seem similar but
it’s slightly different because it’s the idea
that an external body could have the say over what you view your personal relations to
be an again another case was a couple, a long
standing couple who were roughhousing I think was
the word, playfighting and a neighbor reported
them to a Title IX officer and a Title IX investigation went underway even though both parties
said, “We’re a couple “and this is completely crazy.” Actually in that case the woman was told that she was suffering from
battered women’s syndrome which to me is absolutely appalling, the idea that that’s kind
of completely overriding her idea of what’s her
private relationship. And also the most obvious point is that it completely infantilizes women. One of the really sharp
ways that you see this is in the involvement of the discussion about drunk sex, there’s this idea that once a women has a drink, really has one drink, that she then becomes completely incapacitated, that therefore any kind of
sexual encounter that she has whether that be kissing right up to sex is non consensual because obviously she’s had a drink and she’s
been turned into a child, she can’t make her own decisions. It really is that extreme in some cases. And then obviously probably
the most worrying for us who are concerned with free speech is how any discussion about Title IX now is being completely overwritten, completely cross to what happened with us, in some ways at American
University and also Laura Kipniss who’s just been mentioned,
I’ll just read this, I’ve read a quote from an
LA lawyer who’s described Kipniss’ experience as
her being investigated for writing about being investigated for writing about being investigated. So wrap your head around that but I mean that’s how,
that’s the threat it poses to free speech and now
having said all of that and having given Title IX a bad ribbing, I think it’s quite obvious
that this isn’t down to just some law, that
this isn’t as Robert said down to the very few
words that Title IX is. I think it’s actually
something that’s been, Title IX is something
that’s been weaponized, it’s a law that’s been used to pursue a much deeper political idea
and a deeper cultural trend especially on campus,
there is a deep set view on campus today that
women are under threat, that women need to be protected, they need to be closeted, they need to be treated like children and protected from the opposite sex. And for many of us in
the room who think that feminists of the past made great gains in terms of the fight for women’s freedom, the fight for free speech, the
sexual liberation movement, even just the idea that
women should be allowed to have drunk sex and be
a bit reckless sometimes is being completely
undermined by this trend and you can’t put that down to a law that as Robert said really
isn’t actually very old, and sadly I think that the main culprits of this weaponization
are feminists on campus. I think that there’s
a really uncomfortable feeling about letting
women have the freedom to be autonomous individuals, to make decisions for themselves, when things get out of their hands and unfortunately when serious cases of rape and sexual assault do happen, the idea that that would be
solved by some kind of crazy bureaucratic Kangaroo court on campus with people who really aren’t trained to deal with that is also
undermining women’s freedom, is doing a disservice to those women who do need intervention
in those serious cases. So just to reiterate,
women have gained so much and feminists in the past and women’s liberation
movements in the past have gained so much for women to a situation where I really think it’s not a wrong statement to say that women have it pretty good today. And that’s down to the fact that great political arguments
were waged and won. And I think that the
love affair with Title IX that so many campus
feminists seem to have now, I mean after DeVos’s
comments there was a hashtag going around saying I need Title IX, it’s a need, it’s turned into this almost therapeutic system, really shows that we’ve lost sight of what it is to be free
and we’ve lost sight of what it is a women’s
liberation movement needs. And I think that while
we can review Title IX, while we can discuss it and criticize it, we need to look a bit deeper. – Thank you very much, Ella. And Elizabeth. – Hi, I have been writing. I’m excited to be here tonight with all you guys talking about this, I’ve been writing about
Title IX and issues sort of surrounding it for a long time, first as a women’s blogger
or a feminist blogger and now at Reason for the past about three and a half years. So over the past three and a half years, both my colleague Robby Soave and I have written a lot about this at Reason and gotten to see how some of
this has evolved over time, and even before that when
I was writing about it. So I think one of the
important things to remember is this didn’t spring out of nowhere. This impulse to do something about the way colleges handled campus rape and campus sexual assault
and harassment was because they were very bad at it, like police departments were
historically very bad at it. I mean there was a time
when they were much, like 100% blaming women for it, there was also just
colleges are businesses so colleges wanted to
protect their reputations so they would rather
sweep these investigations under the rug and so it makes sense that there was an effort to reform how colleges were dealing
with sexual assault on campus. But one of the things that got in the way and made everything much more
complicated is this impulse to have the federal government solve it. And I think when we hear
about this problem now, when we hear about Title IX which does have many overreaches, campus feminists back in the day weren’t saying we need
Title IX to solve this. Now that they’re saying
that that is more a creation of activists and politicians, and I’ll get back to that in a second but they were just like we
need to do something about this and then groups that make their living off of getting grants for this
stuff and advocating for it and politicians who want to
make a name for themselves were like, “What available
tools do we have?” And we have Title IX, so they did that and they were like, “Hey, you
can solve this with Title IX.” So when you hear people talking about how it’s
like campus leftists or campus feminists are pushing that, I agree that especially in a lot of the high profile examples
from certain campuses, you do see these campus feminist groups or certain campus leftists who are pushing this extreme approach of Title IX but the people who are really
causing the most damage with it are the college administrators. And the reason why they are
causing this much damage with it is because of the government. It’s not because, in the media
here in the United States, so much of this gets blamed
on the students themselves and I think that the students, most of them who are not
even in school back in 2011, were maybe still in
grade school back in 2011 when this Dear Colleague letter came out, they get to campus and they think, “How do we deal with things?” Well, they’ve been given this Title IX and they think, “Okay that’s what we do, “and that’s what we do with it.” So they don’t really know any other way and they go to their
administrators about that. But the real problem is
the federal government with this policy that
Robert described here, these centers set in
motion or as Ella said they weaponized it, the federal
government weaponized it. They said, “If you do not do “all of these very specific things “that have nothing to do
with this very specifics “of sex discrimination in education, “then we will find you, we will sue you. “You could be liable for so much stuff.” And so they did sue a lot of schools. So when they did, campus administrators and leadership reacted
by going way over the top and suddenly they’re like, we’re going to, an abundance of caution is the word that both police and
bureaucrats love to use, and they’d say out of
an abundance of caution, we’re going to make sure
that anything that could be slightly offensive
from a sexual harassment, anything that really mentions sex at all, if someone complains
about it, or whatever, we’re going to investigate that. Any campus sexual assault
cases, we’re just going to way go on the side of anybody who makes the accusation without
concern for these due process things because it’s just
better safe than sorry because their reputation
and a lot of money too is on the line. And so I think a lot of
what we tend to attribute to college students and stuff
is maybe egged on by them but it is because they have
been put in this situation where these are the tools
they have been given and these tools have been
used by a lot of people including politicians and bureaucrats and campus administrators
to further all of their own individual ends which
are mostly towards saving their own reputations or
furthering their reputations and things and that that
is really been a shame both because of the reasons
that we hate Title IX because we think it is bad, or not hate, but of the reasons that we have, you guys have been talking about about why Title IX has been bad for people who have been
accused of sexual assault or accused of rape falsely,
for people who are professors and who feel like their speech is chilled or that they have been
investigated before this but also for students who are victims who want to report these
things because seven, 10 years ago a mass movement to have feminist and progressives on campus do things
within their individual campuses and states to reform the way that colleges dealt with stuff,
maybe would have actually led to some really good
results and some localized results because all these
colleges are different. They’re not all bad at
this in the same way. So people addressing the
specific ways they are bad but instead we have this
federal response handed down to say you need to do this and then the college’s
response has been way over that and it’s just created all
of these bad incentives, so. – Thank you very much. So at this point, I’m going
to turn straight to you, see if you’ve got any questions, comments. What I’m going to do is see how many people want to say
anything, grab a couple, then bring it back to the panel. So kind of don’t jump in straight away. I’m gonna take a few and see what you want to respond to, yes? – [Man] Hi, I’m a student at American University. – Thank you for coming. – [Man] Of course. my views tend to line up
a lot more with yours, but I would love to
ask you a few questions from a friend’s perspective. I have a pretty good idea
of what they would say in response to what you’ve said. – This is your friend
who has these questions. (laughing) – Asking for a friend. So the first thing is that
Title IX is not perfect and I don’t think anyone is arguing that. What everyone that I know seem to believe is that Title IX is better
than what we had before, but basically that it boils
down to Title IX is better than what we had before, and
there are problems with it, there are due process problems, but these are all civil violations if you look at it from
a legal perspective, the 50.1%, there’s no
way to cross examine, there’s no way to counsel and when you drop that standard of review you end up with the problems that you talked about a great deal, innocent people being accused of things. But there’s more relief
for victims of crime, there’s more relief in
terms of restraining orders, there’s more relief in terms
of being able to get people who have been victimized
away from their rapist, frankly, and isn’t that better than letting rapes go unpunished at all, if we’re going to end up
punishing a few innocent people rather than letting several victims just have to deal with this? – Thank you very much, anyone else? Just two rows behind you
there, I’ll just pass the mic. – Hi, I’m also an American
University student, and kind of unfortunate that
it didn’t take place on campus, so I was talking to a friend of mine, she’s also an undergraduate
student at the AU today but this event, and anyway
she just started telling me her own personal experience
dealing with people from Title IX but my main point is that I just keep on realizing
the more I talk about it that there’s so much emotion
when it comes to the issue, especially with people that
have been affected in some ways, but even with people who have
never had such an encounter, there is all this idea of how they felt, how their experience was for
them, how they were questioned about what happened and
it’s just that people, it appears to me that
many people can’t see beyond their emotions and the
emotional aspect of the issue. So how can you deal with that, where does reason end and
where does emotion start, it’s completely, some
arguments are complete nonsense and clear violations
of ideas of free speech and everything that has to do with it, but it’s so overtaken by
emotion and just having no idea how you can deal with people like this. – Thank you very much, important question, but yes, just over here. – [Woman] Mine’s kind of
jumping off your comment, preponderance of evidence on
campuses with sexual assault, how important is preponderance of evidence if it’s not a criminal trial, if it’s just the private universities, talking about that a little bit? – Thank you, brilliant, we’ll
try to squeeze in one more and then we’ll come back. – [Woman] Yeah actually for those of us who aren’t totally
familiar with this subject, you kept referring to the letter, could you tell us a little bit
about what that letter says since it sounds like it’s great
that it’s being rescinded. And then also in terms
of, since she brought up the preponderance of evidence, if you could talk a little bit about the interplay between when
the campus administration handles a case, is it
instead of a criminal trial or did they get the
first bite of the apple, what’s that relationship? – Thank you very much. So bringing it back to
the panel now, Robert, do you want to respond to that first? – Oh sure, yeah, so the
Dear Colleague letter, there are several different
ways that the government can regulate and obviously
the most obvious is they can pass a law, Title IX is a statue assigned by the president
and put in place by Congress, and then we have regulations
that different departments will promulgate through this process called notice and comment,
so if a department, let’s say the EPA wants
to say we want to regulate carbon dioxide as a pollutant
under the clean air act, in the ideal process they say
okay, here’s the regulation that’s going to do that, they send it out and the public and industry
and basically anybody with a stake in it has a chance to say, “Okay, I like this, I don’t
like this, here’s the problems.” And the agency has to
respond to those questions. They don’t have to change their mind but they do have to respond to them and they do have to give
their reasoning for it and there’s rules about how much reason and how much arbitrariness
they can use there. Then we have this Dear
Colleague letter thing and what that is is those
letters purport to be. And I don’t think every
department does this but the department of education
really got into doing this, they purport to being just a helpful. That’s why they started
with Dear Colleague, a helpful explanation of what the law and regulations require, so if
you wanna not get in trouble under Title IX, which by
the way if you are judged to have violated Title IX as a college there is only one remedy
and that’s you lose all of your federal funding,
that’s a death sentence for most universities so it’s– – Right, that’s why, what I’m saying colleges have such incentives to do whatever they can to avoid it. – This remedy is so bad
it has never happened. Nobody has ever done
it but it could happen and it would destroy any
college except maybe Harvard. – [Woman] Who issued the
Dear Colleague letter? – Who issued the Dear Colleague letter? It was issued by the assistant secretary for civil rights at the
department of education. – The office for civil rights is within the department of education. – I’m glad we clarified
that, but rather than get caught in the particulars,
buy Robert’s book. You’ll get all the information. – Exactly, so anyway, that’s
the Dear Colleague letter and it’s not supposed to
come up with new regulations but this one did, that’s where we think they violated the law
and general propriety. – At this point I want to
bring Ella in on this point that the gentleman made, I’d love to hear your
thoughts on this as well. But particularly this point about what do you do effectively
because I think many of us balk at this parallel
system you see on campus given the fact that historically, people felt they were
not treated very well, not just by campus authorities
but actually by the police, how do you deal with a problem like that? – No I’m really glad you brought it up. I actually think the two of
your points go well together because it’s very true,
one thing that Betsy DeVos said that no matter whether
people absolutely hate her or completely love her, one
thing that everybody agrees with that she said is one rape
is one rape too many, and I think in tandem with that, if we really believe in that, one innocent person being accused is one innocent person too many, that is a very strong belief of ours as well so I really think you get into such dangerous territory
when you start weighing up the idea that only if a
couple of innocent people go by the wayside, that’s
a good thing for justice, that’s a terrible thing for justice. And as I said a terrible
disservice to women who believe in due process and freedom and all that kind of thing,
and I think that we need to, dare I say it, dial down
the emotionalism on campus and with the understanding
that when things like this happen of course it is terrible and emotional and non-reasonable because your emotions
aren’t always reasoned and that’s absolutely an understanding but the idea that then you
would build a system around that idea, you would build
a system around something that is often deeply subjective, often deeply subject to abuse, and with the prominence of references and the 50%, that is an
abusive due process in my view. Then you get into a
very dangerous territory where if we have a problem with rape and sexual assault on
campus, which I think is not as big of a problem
as it is made out to be, then doing this kind of system which really heavily weighs
justice in a very bad way I think is a really wrong,
wrong road to go down. – And Elizabeth, obviously
feel free to respond to anything you’ve heard. Typically on Ella’s point next, this is an argument that we expect that many other people have made, which is that you’re not
necessarily just dealing with a particular problem and there’s good or bad solutions to that. There’s also a slight degree of which the potential problem of sexual assault is being kind of exaggerated, it’s being referred to as
hysteria in some respect. And what do you think of that charge and how does that change
your perspective on this in terms of it’s all just about how the federal government
have responded to these things? – Well, and I think to
his point about Title IX, no one is, you know, Title
IX is not gonna be repealed and the way to Title IX
is, has been in force as he said, as Robert was saying. You know, if we roll back some of the ways that colleges are being
punished for Title IX violations it would not stop, obviously, Title IX from existing and these
protections from existing. It would also not stop
the momentum on campus for good or bad, it would not
stop the momentum on campus that has developed around these issues. So I don’t think it would roll back like a lot of campus
protections that have been sort of fought over over the
last 10 years and things. It would just roll back colleges responding in these super extreme ways. But I mean, I think what
Ella’s talking about, I think she does a good example of doing one of the things
that goes to your point about how you deal with emotional issues. And you know, it’s good to be coming from a point of empathy, which a lot of times libertarians are bad at
doing on people in general. And you know, the public policy
sphere can be bad at doing. And I write about, another
thing I write about is like sex work and prostitution which also dovetails
with sex trafficking laws and I think a lot of the
ways that we handle that are very bad with the way we, like, craft criminal justice solutions to that. So when I try to argue about that it’s sort of the same
thing about when you try to argue about sexual assault on campus. I mean, people just wanna be like, “Oh my God, I hate you
because you disagree “with my solution to this.” And it’s always very important to stress that you are coming, you know, you want the same things that they do. Your same end goals are the same. You just have different
ways that you think it is good to approach it. I mean, I think that that’s a small thing but it’s something that we don’t do enough to say, like, “Yes,”
like, “This is a problem “but, like, maybe we are not, you know, “we’re not addressing
it in the right way.” – And Robert, you also, yeah. – No, that’s fine, a couple points just because those are very typical sorts of questions, is
Title IX going away? It’s being rolled back to the
status of April 3rd, 2011. So if you remember those dark days of the first Obama administration, that’s literally all that happened when, you know, a couple weeks ago. So and, this is not the
first time I’ve heard, like, “Oh, Title IX is gone,” or,
“Title IX’s being revoked.” Like, they, that power, I mean, that would have to be congress, you would probably hear it. Like, there wouldn’t be any, you know, lack of clarity over that one. But a couple things, there’s a sense, and somehow this sense has been twisted up there, buy
my book Twisted Title IX at Amazon.com, that the response, that Title IX requires some
sort of finding of guilt for someone to, in order to do anything for a person who says they’re
a victim of sex crimination. And it doesn’t, Title IX,
the mandate under Title IX is to end the discrimination. It doesn’t, nowhere in
Title IX does it say you actually have to have a faux-trial. All it says is you have to, so, I hear a lot like, how
are women going to get, or accusers generally,
can be men too obviously. And it is sometimes, these protections. And the answer is when
they’re non-punitive, those protections can and
should still be extended. So for instance, if you say, “Oh, this guy in my dorm
raped me,” or whatever, they can, you know, they can move you. They, you know, if it’s
an emergency situation they can even move him
without his consent. Now, eventually you’d wanna figure out whether or not there’s
any merit to the thing. But when it comes to keeping people apart, when it comes to counseling, like, comes to a lot of things
that I really hear people are worried about
that are not gonna happen that you don’t actually have to go through a trial in order to do any of that. And to the extent that
colleges aren’t providing that for accusers right now, you know, without going through all that I think they’re making a mistake. They need to be doing that anyway. As long as it’s non-punitive measures that keep people feeling safe there isn’t a problem with that. The other thing is the, and I wanna address real quick, the statistical argument. Fire has stayed out of that because I am not a statistician and I don’t know if, you know,
we don’t have the expertise to know what the nature of
crisis is on campus or not. Here’s what we do know
form learning 1,000 years, and I’m not exaggerating, 1,000 years of Anglo-American justice
has led us to the conclusion that you cannot use generalizations
about groups of people in order to make
decisions about the person who is sitting in front of you, right? So I, we hear a lot like this, only 2% of accusations are false, or only 8%, or two to eight
or you know, whatever it is. You hear that all the time. So we, the implication is that well, we don’t really need to due process because like, odds are
good we got the right guy. Here’s the thing, like, maybe the odds in the cosmic sense are good
that you got the right guy. But the problem is that tells, that stereotype, it’s a prejudice, it’s a stereotype, tells you nothing about the exact person who you
are sitting in front of, you’re the jury or the
fact finder and is doing. It’s, there’s this, and I am
not a mathematician either but it’s this same fallacy that comes up. Let’s say you flip a coin nine times and it comes up heads every time, a lot, it sort of intuitively makes sense that the 10th time it’s gonna, that it’s a really good chance it’s gonna come up tails the last time. It’s also what keeps
casinos in business, right? Except it’s still a 50%, like, it actually doesn’t change it. It only, those things only make sense in the sense of large numbers. So the fact that a bunch of
people before were all guilty has nothing to do with the
person sitting in front of you. And so from our perspective, and from a, I think from a justice perspective, it wouldn’t matter to us
if 99% of them are true or 99% of accusations are false. It makes no difference
because you gotta evaluate the case that’s in front of you. And if you’re not doing that you are begging, you are literally asking to enter prejudice into it. And I don’t, I don’t really think we need to learn that lesson as a country. – And, I’m gonna take Elizabeth. – Yeah, I, I just wanted to add to that. I think, it’s important to remember that one of the big parts of Title IX that doesn’t get as much attention as the sort of student-on-student conduct is the, the academic freedom issue and the fact that so many professors are being called into these
crazy Title IX inquiries for things they say in class just because if anyone reports that it made them
uncomfortable in any way, then they have to be Title IX. You know, they feel like
they have to investigate if the schools do because
of this, you know, super intense punishment imperative. And you know, as I said earlier today, I’ve been writing about
this for, you know, back before the 2011 Dear Colleague letter so I’ve been writing
about this for awhile now. And I think I had a lot of
liberal friends back in the day who were very just like, “This is stupid.” Like, you know, like, “This is just “a right wing talking point,
this is a stupid concern.” And I, I even have to say that we’ve gotten, we’ve had Cathy
Young in the audience here and she’s written for Reason about this, like, way back in the day. And I kinda remember being a younger, a younger feminist and
libertarian to read her stuff and like, “Why is she harping on, like, “this whole thing for due process? “Like, whatever,” but the more and more that you know, the more
and more I’ve, like, actually read these cases
and the more and more you realize these academic
freedom issues that it gets into, it really, the more you realize, like, it’s not just about this and, and, and a lot of the times, you know, I’ve been around, I’ve, a lot of academics and a lot of, like, leftist academics and socialist academics and even them now, even they recently have been like, “I have not wanted to admit but like, “oh my God yes,” like, people
are afraid of their students. People are afraid to talk about any sort of controversial
issues because they’re students. And like, just been the
maybe past two or so years that I feel like I’ve
heard that from a lot of my more, like, liberal friends. Because they’ve just been
like, I don’t wanna, like, say it because just like,
there’s no getting around that. There’s no getting around the fact that whether or not it is warranted in every individual circumstance
with those students, like, professors feel a lot of fear that they’re gonna get written
up for some stupid thing and then, you know, go
through this crazy, yeah, inquiry that Laura Kipnis went through. And so it does chill a lot
of what they talk about and that’s, that’s, that’s
sort of underlooking it. It doesn’t have anything to do with, like, campus safety, really. – Yeah, Laura Kipnis has
been investigated twice. She got investigated for first thing and then it was recently revealed that she was investigated
for writing a book about that investigation
so I think that’s, you know, to, so to be clear, they got really embarrassed
investigating her the first time and then they went ahead and did it again. – Heather, obviously, feel free to respond to anything you want, I’d
be interested on this point. Elizabeth, and we’ve
heard a little bit about whereas this response
is when you criticize, could be the statistics,
could be the policy, this kind of idea of, why
are you talking about this? And even pointing out, say, fear mongering in relations to something like this, seen as questionable, do you think that in and of itself is still a problem given the fact that
there’s no one in this room who doesn’t want this problem
to be tackled, obviously? – Yeah. – What is the problem then,
of why is it so important that we actually challenge
some of the over zealous claims or indeed, the obvious solutions to this? – Yeah, I think fear
mongering is one of the most stifling things in this conversation because there is this idea that, just to bring it back to my point, that there is this idea that
women are under imminent threat when they get to university. It’s very similar in the
UK, similar situation in which women are actually
actively encouraged to feel worried about their encounters, to be concerned about when they meet men, to be kind of be worried
about what could happen. It’s all about the dangers
of sexual encounters rather than the, you know,
potential enjoyment of them and the excitement of being
an adult out in the world. Reason’s done a lot of great articles busting some of these myths. The classic one in five one
that is much talked about, one in five women are gonna
experience sexual harassment on campus in the US
and that was, you know, proven to be based on
only two universities. It was a complete kind of
crock of fear mongering and it, and it worked, it did actually freak out a lot of women. I think the really, the
battle we have here is that a lot of young women,
having been told all of this and having kind of, not
being party to discussions about Title IX and its
ineffectiveness or any of this, are kind of thinking, “Oh,
right, so university’s gonna be “this really horrible, scary place for me. “And every time I kind
of get into a situation “where I’m a bit pissed with a guy “then something really bad could happen.” Then you’ve got this stifling environment in which it’s, you know, this crazy thing in which people are calling
Betsy DeVos a rape apologist. And I get called the rape
apologist for criticizing this which is not only hugely
insulting but completely false, of course, because it’s not
what we’re talking about. The one really key thing to state is that lots of these cases of sexual harassment, not rape but sexual harassment, but the, what constitutes
sexual harassment today is huge. It can be an unfortunate joke, because one Title IX investigation did actually involve a guy– – A Beach Boys song, I
was looking at the ones that I’ve written about
and Beach Boys song, that could be the best one. – Exactly, Reason’s got
some great lists of ones of a guy who wrote his
teacher’s name wrong on a, um, on a quiz of somebody who, yeah, made a joke and, or somebody
who kind of makes a leap and decides that after a date
they’re gonna kiss someone. There was actually one, just one case, I think it was in the
University of Massachusetts, where a woman and a man who
had a sexual experience, she actually stated at the time that, “It was completely consensual,
I enjoyed it, that was fine. “I then went home and
about an hour or so later “my resident advisor’s training, “bureaucratic training kicked in “and I realized that I’d
actually been assaulted.” And so then the Title IX
case rolled on from there. So you’re encouraging women
to completely reconsider their gut instincts,
their own intelligence, their own, you know,
experience of what happened because campus, because sexual
harassment’s been widened up. And actually really sort of in the process made it much less of a serious thing. – The new thing, too, that– – I just wanna bring it, just to bring it. Some questions from the audience. Who’s got a question or point, yeah? – There’s a mic there. – Sorry. – [Cathy] Yeah, I just wanted to say, I’m Cathy Young and I have
been writing for Reason for a long time about these issues.k I just wanted to make a couple of points. First of all, Elizabeth mentioned that, you know, prior to the
Dear Colleague letter colleges were really
terrible at handling this. I think that there was
probably a great deal of, sort of variety and
diverse, well, diversity, you know, not in the sense
of how different campuses were handling this because actually this is not entirely a new issue. I mean, this was, there was another huge kind of wave of concern about this in the early 1990s when, you know, I mean, I look at some
of the stuff I wrote, like, in 1994 and it’s like, “Oh, well, you know,
apparently we’re going through “a lot of the same debates.” And I think a lot of colleges back then kind of passed their own policies that were pretty, sort
of, intrusive actually in dictating how people
should go about, you know, approaching someone
sexually, like, you know, asking for explicit consent at every step. Which, you know, now pretty, is actually– – It’s the law in California and New York. – [Cathy] Law in California
and several other states for college campuses only. But you know, one thing
that I also wanted to say, and I think Elizabeth, I think
Ella sort of touched on this, I think that the elephant
in the room here, really, is how young people are being taught to perceive and define
rape and sexual assault. Because when we’re
talking about, you know, the, how much of a problem this really is I think the real question is, you know, what exactly is this, you know? Like, what are we talking about? Are we talking about you know, behavior or experiences that may
be very hurtful personally that may feel very traumatic but, you know, are not
necessarily non consensual? Are we talking about, because right now, and by the way, that’s,
that one in five study, one of the definitions,
one of the measurements was that they basically asked women whether they had ever had, you know, what they eventually
concluded was unwanted sex due to being under the
influence of alcohol or drugs? Now, obviously, you know, if you’re passed out and you’re, you know, sexually assaulted where
you’re nearly unconscious you really have no idea what’s going on, I don’t think any civilized person you know, at this point in time would argue that that should
not be considered rape or sexual assault, however, you know, we’re seeing situations in which someone who was intoxicated but, you know, someone who is in sufficient
possession of their faculties to, you know, send text messages, there was a case at Occidental, which Robby Soave wrote about, in which, you know, these two
young people who had been– – We’re about at too much. – Oh right, okay. – Just want to get to more questions. – Right, okay, yeah. Okay, so yeah, and I just wanna say, in many of these cases the young women are actually encouraged by, you know, university officials
or, you know, professors to re-asses this experience as rape. And I just wanna wrap up real quick by saying that I think
in many of these cases there could be a more
effective intervention if it wasn’t treated as sexual assault. You know, if it was treated
as a personal situation that is traumatic that, you know, may require some sort of counseling but shouldn’t necessarily be considered as this sort of black and white situation with a perpetrator and a victim. So, you know, that’s. – That’s very interesting. Two right next to you. – [Cathy] Should I pass it on to? – Just, on your left and right behind you. – [Man] So now that the legal machinery behind Title IX
investigations is in place, even if Betsy DeVos’s, you know, reinterpretation of the
agency, of the regulation and the law, even if that changed, how much change will we actually see given the historic, like, you know, reluctance of colleges
to actually roll back these kind of things? – Pass the mic right, perfect. – [Woman] I was very
interested in the, um, point that Ella made
in her opening comments and I’d like her to just
explain it a little bit more. But the real impact of the climate in colleges at the moment
is it infantilizes women. Because I think that the, you know, I know that when I was, you know, when I think about these issues I think there is a tendency, as someone at the front said, to say, “Well, yeah, maybe a couple of people “get wrongly accused but in
the grand scheme of things, “you know, that’s a shame but so what?” But when you start saying
that it actually infantilizes all women, all women students and treats women as just victims and treats women in, as though they are in need of protection then I think it’s a much more powerful sort of problem and I think that in looking at that, that how women have become infantilized
by these regulations I think it’s quite an
interesting thing to explore. And I’m kind of interested
because I can remember when I went to college many moons ago that the last thing I wanted anybody to do was to, you know, restrict my adulthood. It was like this was my
big step into the world. That’s what I wanted to do. It’s all about being grown up and free and I just wonder how we got to this point that women are on campus, female students, not all of them, obviously, but many women have allowed themselves to become kind of in need of protection and that they want protection. And what would Ella say
to why that’s happened? And you know, in the papers we always read about the notion of snowflakes, you know? This whole generation is snowflakes. Is it just that they’re snowflakes or is there something else going on? – Excellent question, I
think there was one down on the front there,
can we pass it forward? – Hi, I go to George
Washington University. And Betsy DeVos actually spoke
at our school this morning so it’s really a good
time to talk about this. I was curious if you could expand on, I know each of you touched on what happens to the men in these cases. And a lot of cases go through where they do have the tribunal and there is not enough evidence and the men live with it
for the rest of their lives. If you could just talk about what happens even after due process, what
happens after the tribunal when the culture won’t let them go. – Thank you very much,
and so we’ll bring it back kind of one more time before we close. So I’ll make sure we get people. First up, Ella I wonder if you
could address that question about what do you say to
someone who has taken on board this idea that we’re
not somehow compatible? – Yeah, the infantilization
question is fascinating because it really goes against the idea that this is a snowflake phenomenon, that this is just kind of like a snowflake dropped out of the sky that
suddenly, as Elizabeth said, that suddenly students are demanding is such a very interesting to note that students aren’t
demanding these measures, that there isn’t a mass
movement on campus. It’s deceiving going on Twitter these days but there isn’t a mass
movement on US campuses from women to enact
these kind of measures. That isn’t a desire to be protected. And so it’s very much in
many ways a top down thing. But I think what really speaks
to the infantilization idea is that you have a kind of culture, not just with feminists
but also a broader culture that says that young people
need to be protected, that university is not just to teach you whatever subject you’ve
gone there to learn but also to nurture you, to protect you, to enhance your wellbeing,
to make you feel safe in a really unsafe space,
to that kind of notion really makes students think,
“Okay, this isn’t just about “academic rigor, or, you know, I understand university should be. “It’s about feeling
safe,” and so for women that feeling safe obviously
encompasses, you know, your interactions with men. Because that can be an unsafe,
that can be a risky thing, not in the very serious measure but just in that, you know,
throws of relationships. So what this really does
and what the kind of Title IX investigations
and scruitiny of sexual, of relations does is it tells women that they aren’t adults, that they aren’t, especially with the drunk sex thing, that they aren’t as equal to men. That’s the most shocking thing to me, is that they are different to men, they are, you know, they
experience these relationships and these interactions and sexual freedom differently to men and that difference is that they are not adults because they have to have
these measures in place. So it’s, that’s very much the point I think lots of us tried to make. And that Title IX is not
really the problem here. The problem is how we got
to a situation in which women are being told to think
of themselves as children and not as adults who are free to deal with these things themselves. – And Robert, is there
anything you wanna pick up from what Ella said? – Um, you know, with regard, you know, just to the, the, to
clarify on some of the, the what we’ve been talking about, the drunk sex problem and obviously, alcohol is a huge factor
on college campuses. What we were, what we had been seeing, and this is one of the ways in which universities went further than, I think, even the, the federal
government was requiring, although it’s sort of a
better safe than sorry thing, is just to be clear, this
is not an exaggeration. Universities would start to say that you couldn’t consent
while intoxicated. So usually that’s what they would say. The thing is, the
definition of intoxication is not the same as incapacitation. And it’s not limited to being so drunk, for instance, you can’t drive, or you can’t consent, et cetera. Any level of intoxication, so, you know, imagine, I guess, not one
single drop of alcohol but the second you start
feeling an effect of alcohol you are intoxicated and
what they were saying is any sexual activity that
takes place after that point is not consensual and that
even if you did consent, you still didn’t. And so the case at
Occidental was like that. And one of the other,
this is sort of a race to the courthouse problem
that’s also happened is generally speaking, both
parties are at least intoxicated to that degree when that’s involved. And so whoever complained first would be considered the injured party. So we would see people say,
“Well, I was actually also drunk “and have no idea what was going on.” And the answer would be, “Too bad. “You can bring your own thing later.” But by that point, you know, they may have already been expelled. So you know, most schools have started to, to some extent, from hectoring from fire, like, back off of that and say, “Okay, it’s incapacitation,”
which is where it should be. But it certainly shouldn’t
be at the intoxication level but just, just to be clear, I’m not exaggerating this
and you may wanna look n it may still be around in your policy. So that’s something that
you might wanna look into if you are a student now, it
may still be hiding in there. – And just, Joe Biden famously said, “Drunk sex is rape, is rape, is rape.” And that’s exactly what he says. I’m quoting direct at that. – Right. – So yeah, it really is that crazy. – So much, Elizabeth
is there anything else? – Yeah, just one of the other weird things along these lines is this new thing is the neurobiology of trauma, which is this thing that they’re informing all of the Title IX coordinators on and all the politicians on. It’s even been written to
a level of legislation. It’s this idea that when,
that people who are having unwanted sexual advances might freeze and go into a coma like mode
and not be able to respond, and also not remember anything but then be able to piece it
back together perfectly later. This does not correspond
with, like, anything that is an actual, like,
neuroscience or psychology at all. But they’re now, like, teaching
this on college campuses and, you know, Emily
Yoffe wrote a piece about this recently and it was like, proof that someone, or someone
not remembering the details right at first but then
later having details that say they were assaulted
is seen as evidence that that was really an assault because of this neurobiology
of trauma that they’re pushing. And so it’s just this sort of ridiculous, this ridiculous sort of
thing that’s based on no sort of scientific evidence at all and goes against, like, most
of our scientific evidence that we have about memory and how it forms and these sorts of things. But also, yes, it tells, it tells people and mostly women that
it is 100% normal if, not in the face of fear,
not in the face of force or coersion or threats
or violence or anything, but just in the face of
unwanted sexual advance, just 100% freezing up for,
not just a few seconds, not just a minute or
two, but for, you know, like, an extended period of time and not being able to say or do anything, that that is normal and
that is not actually, like, there is nothing that says this is a normal biological response. Now, I’m not saying that
we should blame someone if that is what happens to them, right? But that is not a normal response and you have people teaching people that this happens in up to 50% of cases, which is just, you know, so now you have people who are new to
sex who are, you know, 18 or 19 years old, they’re new to sex. They don’t know exactly how to handle unwanted sexual advances or if they’re the one making the advances, to how to read their
partner’s consent, right? Because they’re new to this. And now you have them hearing, “Yeah, that like, oh well like, “if you don’t want something
and you don’t wanna say no “don’t say no, because it’s
totally normal not to.” And so we’re not just like, if it does end up giving them the, the exact opposite tools they need to be able to assert
themselves in situations I mean, yeah, that’s like
one of the real tragedies. – Yeah, I wanted to address your question about, one other thing in
my book, Twisting Title IX, you can read it, one of the
stories I talk about there is a Stanford student and
there they were training the jurors, the fact finders in the case, that acting persuasive and
logical was a sign of guilt. And because they’re
basically, the idea was, well if you’re scattered, you know, we would expect a real
victim to be scatterbrained. But if they, if it’s not, you know, then you should have more
credibility and vice-versa that predators, they’ve got
their story all figured out. So the more sense their story makes the more suspicious you should be. That may be true, it may
also be that they remember what happened and are telling a story that holds together
because it’s what happened. But that was, that was one of the things that they figured in Stanford. You asked what happens to the students. You know, I’ve had the, um, you know, I wouldn’t call it a
privilege but the opportunity to speak to a lot of folks
who’ve been in that situation and generally they don’t
go back to college. You know, I’ve heard stories
about suicide attempts. I haven’t heard of a
successful one, thankfully. You know, many times I’ve been glad to see families rally around
the people who, you know, either were falsely accused or believe they’re falsely accused. Look, I mean, I don’t profess to know whether or not something happened or not but I can tell you how they feel. The, the thing to remember, and this is sort of a weird
characteristic of justice, and you know, sorry to like, sound like lawyer guy again here but for whatever reason,
it’s a principle of justice that if people, that it is worse to, it’s worse for confidence
in the justice system when you are convicting
people who are innocent than letting the guilty go. I think maybe it’s a human nature thing but for whatever reason, I mean, that’s why, you know, the
famous British jurists say it’s better to let 10 guilty men go than put one innocent man in jail. It was Blackstone who said that. But the reason there’s
a feeling out there is, you cannot undermine anything faster than by putting somebody innocent, you know, or punishing
them for the wrong problem. I don’t know why that is but if we don’t have a system we can trust all of the supposed benefits
that we’re supposed to see for making it easier to come forward, they’re not going to materialize. – And is there anything you wanna say? – No, I went last, I’ll
wait for the next one. – I wanted just a thought to come back. The point that Elizabeth was making about, are we kind of engendering a generation just straightforward a fear of sex? Is that something that is
gonna be a consequence? – Yeah, yeah, definitely. I mean, certainly I’m glad you brought up the question of boys. I’ve spoken to a lot of
people who have young sons going to university who
are genuinely worried about what happens when you, you know, when the kind of, everyone
can kind of imagine a romantic situation or your first kiss in which you, I certainly
didn’t kind of speak into an app or sign a
piece of paper that said, “Yes, you can kiss me.” You know, things happen that kind of, part of the risk of relationship,
of new relationships can be bad, it can also be the
start of something wonderful. And I think that, you know, I’m a romantic but I think that’s
what’s really worrying me at stake here, is the idea
that human interactions should be seen as
something that’s a negative rather than a positive. That you should always be worried about your first interaction
with someone new, that you should always be concerned with your first sexual encounter because it might turn out bad when, you know, what we should
be saying to young people is the majority of times
it will turn out good and even if it does turn out not to be the exact kind of movie moment, you’re strong enough to handle that. You’re strong enough to
make your own decisions about that and you don’t
need a campus authority coming in and telling you
what to think about it. – On that contentious point,
we’re gonna bring it back out to the floor, are there
any more points, questions? Yeah. – [Man] Passing this back. – There’s one at the back. – [Man] So I think Cathy
alluded to the some, some of the solution here and I think based on a comment that
Elizabeth made at the beginning, law enforcement is also
not great at dealing with sexual assault cases. So what does a, so if
it’s, if the university’s tribunal’s lack of due process and take all, for argument,
that’s awful and not working but going to law enforcement
isn’t a great answer at this point either, what does a good system
or solution look like? – Yeah, and there’s a
few more around there. They’re throwing their hands
up right behind you, that. – [Man] Yeah, it’s a similar question because I was reassured,
Ella, by your point that the women, women on
campus are not searching out for these infantilizing measures. And I’m also very reassured though horrified in the same breath by the exposes that have been done around the one in five and the
massive increase of assaults on SuperBowl Sunday and Jackie
Case, University of Virginia and the exposes around
those which have shown to be two shoes of lies. But I am very concerned,
and this might be me living in the DC bubble, where
everyone seems to be liberal or very close to them, and I look at my Facebook
and Twitter feeds after DeVos sent out that letter and it was, there was
a lot of vilification of what she was doing. And I tried to push back and, well, I retreated after awhile,
I’ve got to admit. It was not pleasant but
that’s fine, you know. So you know, what do
we do to turn the tide and how sure can we be that, that the, the, the consensus is not that we need to protect
and infantilize people in order for them to,
to, to grow up to be, to be mature adults? – Someone over here, okay
let’s go to this gentleman in the blue shirt just
a little bit forward and then I’ll come over there. – [Man] I have questions
about the upcoming rulemaking, specifically maybe for Robert. Do you expect it to result in maybe the same kind of flexibility
oriented approach of the interim guidance,
where colleges have the choice of how they’re going to run a proceeding, maybe join a consortium to
outsource these proceedings? And also how do you size up
the different coalitions, I guess, on each side, the survivor groups versus the due process groups? Who’s better organized, who is maybe going to
dominate this proceeding? – There’s some people
on this side down there. – [Man] This question is also mostly directed towards Robert. At the start you mentioned that Title IX has been a great success because in the years following Title IX participation among women
in college sports increased? – Well that aspect of it has, yeah. – [Man] But is there evidence to show that it was actually a result of Title IX? Because at the same time
women were also joining the workforce at much higher rates. Could it be that women were
just joining sports more? – And then there’s a couple more here. There’s one over here. – [Man] It’s not a very long question. But essentially, all of
you have touched upon you know, the view that a lot of students in college campuses might have due process and it’s this negative
perspective on it, you know. Seeing it as more of a
thing for perpetrators rather than victims and things like that. So I just wanna, was wondering in general, do you have any opinion
in what the repercussions of having a generation
of students growing up with this negative view of due process and what it could happen
the world, you know, once they start graduating and getting out into the real word and such? – Excellent, and any
more before we come back? Yeah, I’m gonna take
you and you very quickly and then we’ll come back for the closing. – [Woman] This is for Ella. I want to know why schools
would want to train college girls to reevaluate
their experiences that they thought were consensual. Because when they say that
they’re not consensual doesn’t that put the
school through more risk, more money, and isn’t
it good for the school if the student thought she consented and they don’t have to deal with it? – And gentleman up front here. Was that the same question? Brilliant, well at this point we’ll bring it back to the panel. So I’m gonna ask you each to
just take a couple of minutes. Is there anyone I’ve missed? So I’m gonna ask you to
take a couple of minutes to either address some
questions you’ve heard or just offer a kind of final thought what next, what can we do about it? What’s the thing on the horizon? And we’ll go Elizabeth first
and work down the line. – I will speak to the police question because I’m, that’s one of the things I’ve written about a lot and you know, despite the statistics about one in four on college campuses, which you know, as Cathy mentioned, are often, or you mentioned, are often through flawed mythology, a lot of the ones where
they try to do follow ups like the Washington
Post and various studies where they’ve done follow ups the definitions are even more ridiculous. So they won’t actually,
they’ll say one in four unwanted sexual conduct
and that will be so much as like a kiss which is like you said, like someone leans in for a kiss and you don’t want it, like,
maybe just tell them no. Don’t, like, report them
for a Title IX violation. So um, but, you know, this sort if thing makes it seem like college,
that rape is, you know, endemic on college campuses. And actually you know,
studies show that it is the same or even much
lower on college campuses than it is for a same age group outside of college campuses and also still only something like 30% of
Americans get a college degree. And most of them are
not even going to, like, residential four year campuses. So this like subset of
people we’re talking about I mean, it’s so crazy that
this has captured the national, like all of the media, like
around like young people and rape, like, centers on Title IX. And I get it because it is such a, like, crazy thing that like our
government is focused on. But I mean, that is such a
small percentage of things. So I think it’s you know,
instead of focusing on, it’s actually a very
privileged way to look at it. Instead of focusing on like, making things maybe better for the
small set of the most, like sort of privileged people, like why don’t, if, yes. Police can be bad at things,
police have been getting better over the past two decades. They are not great but
like if we focus so, people on college campuses focus on their own, you know, their own schools. People in general focus on like reforming the way that the criminal justice system and police in general
deal with sexual assault. Then that could benefit
so many more people than this very narrow focus that we have with Title IX
and these sorts of things. – Thank you very much, Robert. – Yeah, on the criminal
justice thing, I mean, it’s worth remembering that like you said, it’s
affecting a small slice of people overall but the best
case scenario at a college is the same as the worst case scenario when it goes to law enforcement. The best case scenario at
college is somebody gets expelled and they’re walking around
on the street the next day. That’s literally a worst case scenario when you report a rape to law enforcement, like, in a way, and they’re
walking around the next day. So it’s worth remembering that. The other thing is, somebody
had asked, you know, how do we get past the emotions
or, you know, how do this. I think there is a, part of the reason rape
is such a serious crime and it’s important to remember that it was the last capital
crime that wasn’t murder. And it was only, rape was
actually a death penalty offense in like Louisiana up until like the ’80s. And the reason it’s considered so serious, I think one of the reasons,
there’s many different reasons, is that there is no winner in this. Like, there’s no way to make it good. Like, when a rape happens
it is such a severe trauma that expecting there to be
a good outcome from this, I don’t think is really, I
don’t think is realistic. We can do the best we
can and I don’t think police have traditionally
done that or colleges have. But it is a hugely damaging crime. And there isn’t really any
way to put those pieces back together and I think we
need to be conscious of that. You know, and have expectations, you know, that are, that are commensurate with that. We need to have compassion for people who are going through this because there’s no way to really fix it. And then finally, you
know, with what to expect through regulatory process, I don’t know what’s gonna happen. Title IX regulations
that are out there now require that tribunals be equitable. And you know, there’s a lot of
different aspects of equity. The 2011 letter sort of reduced those to just preponderance of the evidence. But for instance, Fire did a survey we released just a couple weeks ago where we talked about due
process protections in place. And we found that, I think it was 74% of the top 53 campuses,
according to US News, don’t guarantee students who are accused the
presumption of innocence. That’s a pretty basic
procedural protection and the fact that it’s missing
three quarters of the time is probably not an accident. And so there’s a not of
work that needs to be done on campuses and would I
consider it to be equitable? To be a justice system that didn’t say you’re presumed innocent
until proven guilty? No, but maybe I’m old fashioned. – And Ella, your final thoughts. – We’ve discussed some
crazy cases here tonight and some of the things
it’s hard not to laugh at because it seems so perverse. But I really think that we’ve got a really serious situation on our hands and I think it’s not
too strongly to put it that we’re facing a new
sexual inquisition on campus and that women’s freedom
and student freedom is seriously on the line. And I don’t think that there
is a quick fix to this, unfortunately, and as we’ve all said, that how far these reviews go isn’t going to change the situation that students find themselves on campus. Someone asked how we can turn the tide. That is sort of an easier thing. It’s to say that really, the people who are so
vehemently pro-Title IX, who declare that women need
to be closeted and protected who have this kind of perverse idea that women should be infantilized are a minority of people. Certainly on campus the
majority of students do not want a safe space, they do not need to have these measures and they don’t actually really engage
in any of this process because they get on with their lives, as adults at university they have sex. Sometimes it’s drunk and they’re fine. I think what the problem is here is that certainly government or officials are listening to a minority of people who have really taken this issue too far and have pushed the idea that women need to be closeted on campus. So how to fix it, it’s really to argue that students should be free, that universities
shouldn’t be a safe space. That it should be
unsafe, that it should be full of potential and risk and excitement. And that really we champion the idea that both women and men should be free, autonomous individuals to decide these issues for themselves. – Thank you very much. Will you join me in
thanking our panel, please? (applause) Thanks so much everyone. If you’re interested, please
come talk to us afterwards about Spiked, about the unsafe space so hopefully next time we’ll see you on an actual university campus. And we’ll be hanging around a little bit for, and if any of you wanna talk. So see you next week, thanks a lot. She can now.