A Striking Point About Gettysburg’s Sexual Misconduct Policy

May 15, 2006

Hans Bader, Counsel for Special Projects at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, sent me this comment on the overbroad sexual misconduct policy at Gettysburg College.

It’s worth noting that the Antioch and Gettysburg college policies requiring express consent for touching of any kind essentially treat only prostitution as an appropriate relationship, since only prostitutes and johns haggle over every touch and every specific sex act to engage in.

I don’t ask my wife for permission before I hug or kiss her. And she’d die of embarrassment if I asked her explicitly in advance what she wanted to do in the bedroom.

But hookers and johns apparently often discuss every specific sex act with precision, since the hooker’s fees vary depending upon the act in question.

It’s a cutting point, but it is effective at illustrating the absurdity and danger of the Gettysburg policy. People, under normal circumstances, simply do not get specific verbal consent for every hug, kiss, touch, or sexual act in which they engage. Gettysburg’s rule does not reflect reality, and by failing to do so it criminalizes perfectly normal intimate and even merely affectionate interaction. It isn’t noble, right, or just for an institution, even in an attempt to rid itself of serious wrongful behavior, to simply declare everyone to already be an offender and work backwards from there. Yes, we should do all we can to prevent and prosecute sexual assault, but Gettysburg’s policy makes a mockery out of something deadly serious—and in doing so does no favors to anyone who takes the issue of sexual assault seriously.

Schools:  Gettysburg College