Walking the Tightrope of Ruin: Being Male on Campus
First, a disclaimer: This is an article about gender issues. It deals with Title IX, accusations of sexual misconduct and the unfortunate abuses of useful policies. In my opinion, sexual crimes are among the most heinous a person can commit and should be punished very harshly. The following criticism is of university administrations who deny due process to accused persons. It relies on the assumption that it is beneficial for all in society that anyone accused of a crime, no matter the nature thereof, should be allowed their right to due process and should not be condemned or presumed guilty until their guilt is proven.
A few days ago, a news story broke about a young man attending the University of Texas, Arlington who seems to have been falsely accused by another student of sexual harassment. This is extremely worrisome, because this case looks to be yet another data point in a trend of students using Title IX to do terrible, life-altering harm to male students with whom they have disagreements.
The Washington Post names just a few; for example, the 2006 Duke lacrosse rape case, which went to trial but ended with all the charges dropped and with the North Carolina Attorney General declaring that the accused were victims of a “tragic rush to accuse.”
In 2014, there was the highly publicized case at the University of Virginia in which Rolling Stone’s report of a rape stoked the narrative of the ostensibly pandemic sexual violence in “male supremacist” America. The trial, however, found that the main accuser made the story up. According to the Washington Post, ABC News and others, the accuser may have invented the gang rape story in an unsuccessful attempt to win the affections of a fellow student she had a crush on.
In 2016, Colorado State University at Pueblo effectively expelled a student athlete for supposedly raping a woman who denied that she was raped. The student, of course, lost all his athletic scholarships and quickly found that no other university would take him, his life irreparably marred.
Now, according to Texas Bureau of Watchdog.org, Thomas Klocke was accused by a gay classmate of writing anti-gay slurs on his computer during a class. One would surely think upon hearing this — and I would of course agree — this is appalling, it’s obviously hate and I hope he’s punished. The only problem is there is no evidence he actually did it. According to the Texas Bureau, “Klocke [the accused] vehemently denied the accusation, and administrators who investigated the incident acknowledged there was no evidence to support the accuser’s claims, yet Klocke was still to be punished.”
The university found no evidence of the allegations against him, but he was still threatened with expulsion. This should be deeply concerning to anyone who values fairness and ideas like justice and “innocent until proven guilty,” but the story gets worse. The accused Klocke later committed suicide because of the unfair treatment he received by UTA. The lawsuit, which is now being brought against the university by his father, states that Klocke received no Title IX hearing, even though he contradicted his accuser’s claims, and when he was informed that an accusation had been lodged against him, he was told that he could not contact anyone in the class, directly or indirectly, effectively barring him from finding any witnesses to corroborate his side of the story.
Klocke’s father claims that “his son was discriminated against because he was a male, accused student” and that the case of Klocke v. University of Texas at Arlington “illustrates just how quickly and arbitrarily a college can act, leading to the most tragic outcome from the unimaginable stress and pain that an unfairly treated, accused student can suffer.”
These very much non-isolated incidents paint a very chilling picture of the reality that faces male university students today. It appears to be a demonstrable fact that, as Title IX stands and is currently interpreted, a male student may at any time have his life ruined based on the word of any other student who identifies as other than a straight male. In both of the above cases, the accused students were expelled (or set to be expelled) from their respective universities simply on the word of other students.
This is genuinely terrifying, as it should be to any male student, because it means that at any time, any student who is not a heterosexual male may accuse them of any crime vaguely involving gender or sexuality and they will be expelled or suspended from school with hardly a question asked. This grim and cynical state of affairs leaves male students effectively walking around campus on a tightrope, suspended over a chasm of ruin that, at any time, could snap and lead to catastrophe for the rest of their lives.
It should be noted that in these cases, no governing or judging body, after reviewing evidence, determined that any wrongdoing occurred. No, the accused students’ guilt was already determined. The only powers that convicted these individuals were emotions and the prevailing politics of our time. It should be further reiterated that I am not condoning or supporting or minimizing in any way the alleged actions of these people.
However, it seems necessary that serious consideration is given to the question of the implications for the rights of students who attend these institutions, in whose hands they effectively place their lives and future livelihoods, as illustrated above. If male students can be convicted by the mere accusation of a crime, then they are in serious danger at all times.
The worst part about this is that it could happen to anyone. Being a bad person is not necessary. The only requisite conditions are to be interacting with the wrong person in the wrong situation. Now, like most instances of alleged sexual misconduct and the like, it’s not something that’s happening all the time; most aren’t aware of it. However, at least presumably with other cases dealing with university safety, there is usually swift justice with harsh penalties. When the accusations are false, however, there is no justice, there is just a student’s emphatic word against another’s, and if the accused student is male, his word does not seem to be worth much at all.
What does this mean for students at UCSB then? First, be aware. In the words of one falsely accused student’s attorney, “By essentially encouraging male gender bias, the Administration’s directive has violated Title IX and created a new class of victims on campus: accused male students who have had their right to due process stripped away.”
Be aware that cases such as these that have happened in several parts of the country have also happened much closer to home. In a case involving false accusations of rape at UCSD, a male student was expelled without a trial and then ordered by a judge to be reinstated. The judge ruled, according to NPR, that the school’s process was unfairly skewed against him and that the hearing was unfair.
Be aware that abuse of Title IX and denying due process have happened even here at UCSB. In a recent case, a student was indefinitely suspended for the first two quarters of his freshman year and sued UCSB to finally be allowed to return to school. The presiding judge ruled that instead of making that decision based upon the facts, the law and in fairness, [UCSB] decided to do it their own way.
Until some sort of reform is implemented, all male students can do is be aware. Like with any potentially life-altering disaster, the more you know the better you can avoid it and not put yourself in that situation to begin with. It’s simply a reality of the times we live in.