THE ATLANTIC: Why Do Blacks Get in Trouble for Campus Rape So Much?


From The Atlantic:

The Question of Race in Campus Sexual-Assault Cases

Is the system biased against men of color?

EMILY YOFFE 11:56 AM ET EDUCATION

The archetypal image of the campus rapist is a rich, white fraternity athlete. The case of Brock Turner—the freshman swimmer at Stanford University convicted last year of sexually assaulting an unconscious woman after meeting her at a party, but sentenced to only six months in jail—reinforced this. Petula Dvorak, a Washington Post columnist, wrote, “The brilliant smile of a Stanford swimmer with Olympic dreams, the happy privileged face of a white college kid named Brock Turner … This is what a campus sexual predator looks like.”

Amy Ziering, the producer of The Hunting Ground, a 2015 campus-sexual-assault documentary, has said much the same thing. In a radio interview, she asserted that her movie exposed “privileged” well-off white men and challenged “dominant white male power.” But a close viewing of her film reveals a different reality. Her movie tells at length the stories of four allegations. In at least three of the cases, the accused is black.

How race plays into the issue of campus sexual assault is almost completely unacknowledged by the government. While the Office for Civil Rights (OCR), which regulates how colleges respond to sexual assault, collects a lot of data on race, it does not require colleges and universities to document the race of the accused and accuser in sexual-assault complaints. An OCR investigator told me last year that people at the agency were aware of race as an issue in Title IX cases, but was concerned that it’s “not more of a concern. No one’s tracking it.”

“Case after Harvard case that has come to my attention … has involved black male respondents.”

Janet Halley, a professor at Harvard Law School and a self-described feminist, is one of the few people who have publicly addressed the role of race in campus sexual assault. Interracial assault allegations, she notes, are a category that bears particular scrutiny. In a 2015 Harvard Law Review article, “Trading the Megaphone for the Gavel in Title IX Enforcement,” she writes, “American racial history is laced with vendetta-like scandals in which black men are accused of sexually assaulting white women,” followed eventually by the revelation “that the accused men were not wrongdoers at all.”

Like in that little-known underground work of history To Kill a Mockingbird.

She writes that “morning-after remorse can make sex that seemed like a good idea at the time look really alarming in retrospect; and the general social disadvantage that black men continue to carry in our culture can make it easier for everyone in the adjudicative process to put the blame on them.” She has observed the phenomenon at her own university: “Case after Harvard case that has come to my attention, including several in which I have played some advocacy or adjudication role, has involved black male respondents.” …

Since there are no national statistics on how many young men of any given race are the subject of campus-sexual-assault complaints, we are left with anecdotes about men of color being accused and punished. There are many such anecdotes. In 2015, in The New Yorker, Jeannie Suk Gersen, a Harvard Law School professor, wrote that in general, the administrators and faculty members she’s spoken with who “routinely work on sexual-misconduct cases” say that “most of the complaints they see are against minorities.” For two years I have received a daily Google Alert on college sexual assault. It captures only those cases that make it into the news, and is not a comprehensive or statistically valid measure. But it is illuminating. Usually the reports don’t disclose race, but sometimes it is mentioned, and if the accused is named, it’s often possible to determine his race through photo searches or other online information. Black men make up only about 6 percent of college undergraduates. They are vastly overrepresented in the cases I’ve tracked.

… But as the definition of sexual assault used by colleges has become wider and blurrier, it certainly seems possible that unconscious biases might tip some women toward viewing a regretted encounter with a man of a different race as an assault. And as the standards for proving assault have been lowered, it seems likely that those same biases, coupled with the lack of resources held by many minority students on campus, might systematically disadvantage men of color in adjudication, whether or not the encounter was interracial.

For example, look how Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston had his life ruined by rape allegations at Florida State, dropping all the way down to first overall pick in the NFL draft.

In contrast, Haven Monahan, organizer of the fraternity initiation ritual gang rape on broken glass exposed by Sabrina Rubin Erdely in Rolling Stone’s hugely popular article “A Rape on Campus,” continues to stalk the campuses of America, not only un-burnt at the stake, but unarrested.

It’s all just cross-cultural misunderstandings: racist white coeds don’t understand that saying “Yes” to the star means “Yes, including your wide receiver corps and your visiting cousin.”

We’re a team. We’re a family.

The easiest way to get better at college football is to recruit players that other coaches wouldn’t dare recruit, typically using coeds as lures. For example, how did Baylor get so good so fast early in this decade?

Former assistant coach Kendal Briles — the son of the head coach — once told a Dallas-area student athlete, “Do you like white women? Because we have a lot of them at Baylor and they love football players,” according to the suit. …

 

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