Thursday, March 11, 2010

Colleges And Civil Negligence

On my post Clueless: Or Research On College Response To Reports Of Rape a commenter who calls himself Sum objects to my belief that colleges need to place immediate restrictions on the sexual behavior of students who have been accused of sexual assault but neither officially exonerated nor officially declared guilty.

As soon a student is accused of rape that student is a known risk and remains so unless the original report has been proven to be false or the student is no longer a student at this college. Yet again and again colleges treat students who have been credibly accused as if these credible accusations never happened.

If an unproven status results in colleges being excused from their duty to the safety of their students then that encourages colleges to do incomplete investigations and to quickly make official declarations that nothing can be proven even when a competent investigation could confirm the truthfulness of the original report.

The easiest way to do this when a student rapes another student who had been drinking is to immediately declare the testimony of the victim to be unreliable. If having consumed alcohol makes testimony unreliable then if the rapist had been drinking that person's testimony claiming innocence must also be declared unreliable. Yet from many of the stories about college rape investigations this logic is misused to declare the alleged rapist's testimony is more reliable and then to judge the allegation based on the alleged rapist's version of events.

The college administrators cannot be ignorant of the fact that a student who has not been exonerated could be a rapist and therefore could be an ongoing threat to other students. This is why I wrote:
Beyond no contact with the student who filed the report, the accused student should be banned from any sexual activity with any student under the influence of alcohol or any other intoxicating substance and banned from group sexual activity.
The restrictions I proposed block common excuses for rape including that a rape was nothing more than a drunken mistake or that the alleged rape victim was too intoxicated to remember consenting yet still capable of giving legal consent. It blocks sexual activity where the testimony of rape victims are often dismissed as unreliable.

If an accused student might genuinely believe that consent exists when it does not then the college must set clear limits for that student and not merely wait for the next reported rape and the next claim that there was a drunken misunderstanding or that the alleged victim consented while drunk and is just suffering from morning after regret.

As I wrote in a comment to Sum:

It is always appropriate to take action to ensure against future assaults when there has been a credible report of rape. What you are advocating is for colleges to be civilly negligent.

The 4 criteria for negligence are:

1) Duty - colleges have a duty to their students' safety.

2) Breach - in your desired scenario breach will happen by the college not acting at all when only the victim and rapist saw what happened.

3) Causation - if a college gets a credible report of rape and knows the identity of the alleged rapist and does nothing to protect other students from future assaults their inaction has a causal link to any rapes which that student commits while still a student.

4) Damages - rape of a student left at risk after that student's rapist was reported by another student causes measurable damages.


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posted by Marcella Chester @ 9:24 AM   2 comments links to this post


At March 11, 2010 11:06 PM, Blogger Ellipsis Alive said...

I am nothing short of supportive of this perspective. While it is as well bad to go under logic that all reported rapes are immediately 100% truth, it pains me that college campuses seem to be some sort of hotbed to nest this filthy ingrate shit.

More importantly, the fact that they don't regard the safety of said students probably takes origin in the fact that other students are the ones that have been punished rather than the campuses. While a criminal deserves punishment, the punishment immediately becomes less common when there are less consequences to the people in charge of the area when it happens.

Sorry for my gigantic wall of text but I've always been disturbed at how the world works.

At March 14, 2010 4:42 PM, Blogger SKM said...

While it is as well bad to go under logic that all reported rapes are immediately 100% truth

I'm guessing you meant to use the subjunctive here, because this does not ever happen.


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