A Dad's Thoughts - Are college campuses hostile environments for men?

August 20, 2014

It’s the start of a new semester and as I sit here typing this column, I wonder how many families will be struggling with anxiety, apprehension and perhaps even remorse after dropping their son off at college? Thoughts about how well your son adjusts to new classmates or dealing with that one cantankerous professor are fairly common. Having a tinge of healthy anxiety regarding the weekend plans is likewise pretty normal.

 

I wonder though how many parents are concerned or even aware that a single instance of alcohol-induced consensual sex will likely land their son in front of a kangaroo court facing a charge of sexual assualt with a rubber-stamped "hang 'em high" ordered suspension or more likely, expulsion the outcome? College administrators are under increasing pressure to pursue cases with little evidence of guilt other than an accusation. How many families this semester will have their world shattered by a false allegation with life-altering consequences for their accused son? 

 

The hostile environment against college men that exists today on most university campuses is real. That is the primary reason why my wife and I call daily to talk our sons while they are at college. If we don’t hear from them within a 24-hour period we immediately move to a red alert heightened stage and start scrambling the jets. This has become the new normal in our household and I suspect it will become the new norm in several other homes in the upcoming months.

 

What can be done to change this toxic, harmful, nightmare state that our nation’s college men find themselves in? ACTION. We need more people to meet with their legislators to voice concern. We need to oppose legislation that is harmful to due process such as three campus sexual assault related bills making their way through Congress right now (see here and here and here and here). We need to likewise work diligently to change the same type of biased and unfriendly to due process university policies.

 

We need to tell our friends and neighbors about how hostile universities have become for male students. Am I guilty of exaggeration?  Consider the following posting which appeared on Community of the Wrongly Accused. “Amanda Childress, Sexual Assault Awareness Program coordinator at Dartmouth College, [said] campus policies aren’t going far enough to protect students. ‘Why could we not expel a student based on an allegation?’ Childress asked”. Perhaps too we should consider how Stanford University trained students adjudicating cases of sexual assault (universities typically consider “honor courts” as providing “an educational experience” completely disregarding the devastation that being branded a rapist for life may have on the accused) that an accused student acting “persuasive and logical” during their defense is to be viewed as a sign of guilt (see here). This is the reality of what good intentioned but deeply flawed policies can lead to.

 

We need to hit institutions of higher education in the pocketbook by carefully selecting the college that we send young Johnny off to. One should NEVER apply to a college or university without first reading the “code of conduct” and governing policies for that institution and especially so for private universities as they have some of the most draconian policies in the world.

 

As a wise old man once told me, “we need less talk and more action”.

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