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How the #MeToo movement is backfiring on campus

Championed by Hollywood and the political elite, movements like #MeToo and #TimesUp have brought sexual assault and rape to the forefront of the political debate and media. The movement has also re-energized the debate over whether campus rape culture is an epidemic or a myth.

Rape hoaxes like what took place at the University of Virginia, Duke, and Columbia, added fuel to the fire and amplified the debate on whether campus sexual assault cases should rely solely on due process or if campus authorities can act without ample evidence. In many circles, it is thought that sexual assault accusers should be readily believed, even if all the facts aren’t yet presented. However, two recent cases have shed light on the dangers of jumping to conclusions.

Last December, a student activist at Middlebury College published a “List of Men to Avoid” in the campus newspaper. It brandished individuals as “physically /emotionally abusive,” “physically violent,” and even as a “rapist.” Elizabeth Dunn, the student author, “evidently took no steps to verify any of the claims she posted,” according to one of the men accused as a rapist.

While Dunn, the author of the list, lacked any compelling evidence, many students at Middlebury jumped to conclusions. The fallout from the published piece was brutal for the students accused. One individual, who insists all his sexual encounters were consensual, penned a letter for The College Fix, explaining the social and psychological setbacks he experienced. He lost friends and has sought professional counseling. He’s even had suicidal thoughts.

Dunn claimed to have been motivated by the #MeToo movement.

A case with additional repercussions took place at Clemson University earlier this year. Sarah Katherine Campbell submitted a fake police report against the Delta Chi fraternity at Clemson, claiming to have been sexually assaulted. When the local sheriff deputies concluded that actions between Campbell and the male she was accusing were consensual, she was arrestedfor filing a false report. Based upon the investigation and the evidence gathered, it was actually found that Campbell wasn’t the victim at all. Instead, the man she falsely accused was a victim of her wrath.

Despite the due process, Clemson Interfraternity Council suspended all Greek life on campus. Landon Flowers, the Interfraternity Council president at Clemson, explained in a statement, “The IFC Executive Board met this morning regarding the alleged sexual assault and came to a decision to better our Risk-Management Policy. We will be taking the essential steps to further improve the health and safety of our community here at Clemson.”

While these are just two of the recent cases, they represent the wave of hysteria surrounding sexual assault and rape on college campuses. Sexual assault and rape are the last things that anyone should have to experience, but false accusations like those recently made at Middlebury and Clemson are also deeply damaging and shouldn’t happen to anyone, either.

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