If They Gave A National Championship For Rape, Duke University Would Win It Every Year

Politics & Current Events

That seems to be the view of some at Duke, including the director of the University Women's Center Ada Gregory (previously covered here), who was quoted speaking of the school's new sexual harassment policy:

The higher IQ, the more manipulative they are, the more cunning they are … imagine the sex offenders we have here at Duke—cream of the crop.

While to some Ms. Gregory may have seemed positively proud of her school's fine young sex offenders, she later insisted she was misquoted:

[I]nvestigations of these crimes [rape] can be further complicated by offenders who may also be categorized as antisocial or sociopathic, who are of above-average intelligence and can be highly manipulative and coercive, not only with victims but in the investigation process.

Universities gather a lot of people with above average intelligence, so it stands to reason that campuses might see more of these kinds of individuals than the general population. My comments about this complex issue were selectively edited and taken out of context to imply that all Duke students fit this pattern, which is emphatically not the case.

I don't know why Ms. Gregory was upset about the original story.  It seems she's still saying that those Duke University students who are rapists are in fact, superior, more capable rapists.

But Ms. Gregory's odd speech patterns aren't the main problem at Duke.  The problem is Duke's definition of rape.

According to Duke:

Sexual misconduct is defined as any physical act of a sexual nature perpetrated against an individual without consent or when an individual is unable to freely give consent. [A number of lewd acts are described.] …  These acts may or may not be accompanied by the use of coercion, intimidation, or through advantage gained by the use of alcohol or other drugs.

This is what Duke has to say about "coercion":

Real or perceived power differentials between individuals may create an unintentional atmosphere of coercion.

Now on one level this is aimed at faculty, who should probably never sleep with students.  But it doesn't stop there.  It also applies to students.   Under an ordinary reading of this policy, if the popular president of the senior class, or a basketball player, hooks up with a freshman at a party, we may have a "real or perceived power differential," and therefore, an "unintentional atmosphere of coercion."

Even if the freshman wanted to hook up at the time, but later had regrets, under Duke's policy a sexual misconduct charge lies against the more popular or better known, and therefore powerful, student.

Even if it was unintentional.

Pity the Duke student who plays by all the rules.  He or she meets an attractive fellow student of the desired gender.  He or she engages in witty banter, designed to impress his fellow student: "Oh, I'm a member of the national champion basketball team, but I haven't let it go to my head.  Let's talk about your freshman Introduction to Critical Theory: Foucault to Fish class instead."  No alcohol or drugs are consumed.  Both students give verbal and written assent to what follows.

Yet according to Duke, sexual misconduct may have occurred due to the perceived power differential creating an unintended atmosphere of coercion, at least under the policy Duke has written for the benefit of the adults who attend the school.

To paraphrase another great diviner of the motives of others, "It is not easy to fool Duke."  The lack of intent is immaterial, as is the consent of both students.

One might think that Duke has had enough misadventures in creative lawmaking for one decade.  A policy like this one may lead to yet more.

Update: KC Johnson, who righteously scourged Duke and many others in Durham over their handling of the lacrosse scandal, is not optimistic about the way Duke will implement this policy

Last 5 posts by Patrick Non-White

11 Comments

9 Comments

  1. Mike  •  Apr 7, 2010 @10:26 am

    Most women rely on the power of their looks – rather than status or personality – to attract men. This is especially true in college. It seems, then, that most campus cuties are rapists.

  2. Patrick  •  Apr 7, 2010 @10:36 am

    That's a fine point Mike. Anyone who doubts that collegiate women enjoy actual power based on their looks has never been to college.

    Duke, helpfully, doesn't define the term power. But good looks are a form of perceived social power by any student's definition.

  3. Andrew  •  Apr 7, 2010 @11:16 am

    Didn't David Mamet already write this play?

  4. PLW  •  Apr 7, 2010 @12:07 pm

    First, this is not a puppy.

    Second, I think the more confusing part of the policy is "These acts may or may not be accompanied…" What's the point of including a list of conditions which are neither necessary nor sufficient?

  5. Patrick  •  Apr 7, 2010 @12:22 pm

    That's the drafter's way of saying that enforcement may be arbitrary.

  6. Rougman  •  Apr 7, 2010 @3:56 pm

    A university absolutely crawling with intelligent students ought to be able to attract smarter directors.

  7. Dwight Brown  •  Apr 7, 2010 @6:42 pm
  8. piperTom  •  Apr 8, 2010 @6:12 am

    "Here at Duke, we do not believe women are competent to make decisions about their own lives. In order to control their behavior, we hereby issue threats against the men, who ARE responsible for their decisions and for the results, real or perceived."

  9. Dennis  •  Apr 8, 2010 @7:19 am

    Given the history of this nonsense at Duke, and the [cough] school's recent history, why does anyone take that lunatic asylum seriously, or give any recognition to the degrees it issues?

    I wouldn't hire a Duke graduate to clean latrines.

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