Columnist and Reason contributing editor Cathy Young pens an excellent editorial in The Boston Globe today about Duke University’s shockingly unjust and intrusive sexual misconduct policy. The entire column is well worth a read, as Young details the many infirmities of Duke’s policy. Young also brings a fresh perspective to the table:
About 15 years ago, as an undergraduate, a friend of mine was talked into a one-night stand in a situation some would call coercive: the man was a graduate student, and she felt somewhat intimidated by his intellectual brilliance. She went to a campus counselor hoping for advice on developing her assertiveness skills—only to be told that she had been assaulted and should not blame herself. My friend was frustrated and angry: in her view, the counselor was not only being unhelpful but telling her how to interpret her own experience. Imagine how much more betrayed she would have felt if the counselor had been compelled to initiate proceedings on her behalf.
Young provides a concrete example of what can happen when universities decide it is their job to tell students what to think, even about the most intimate details of their lives, rather than to offer them support and encourage them to think and decide for themselves.
Duke has so far maintained silence in the face of substantive challenges to its policy. It’s increasingly hard to avoid the conclusion that that is because Duke cannot publicly defend what it has chosen to impose on its students.