Yale Officially Declares 'Nonconsensual Sex' Not That Big of a Deal


The word “rape” does not factor into Yale’s new report on how the university is handling sexual misconduct; instead, the act is described as “nonconsensual sex,” and it’s usually punishable by “written reprimand.” (Sometimes rapists have to spend some time thinking about respect!) According to the report, five of the six people Yale identified as nonconsensual sex-havers over the past six months either graduated without much stress or will be returning to campus in the fall.

The 2011 federal Title IX investigation into Yale ended with a voluntary resolution agreement between the University and the DOE’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR); Yale didn’t face any disciplinary action for creating a “hostile sexual environment,” but was required to implement new grievance procedures and report to the OCR until May 31, 2014. The university has made some great structural changes, said Alexandra Brodsky (’12 LAW ’16), one of the 16 students and alumni who filed a Title IX complaint, but this most recent report shows that “very little has changed.”

“In Sept I’m returning to a campus where, just like when I was a freshman, rape is addressed with ‘written reprimands,'” she tweeted. “What lovely Yale traditions: the Game, Mory’s Cups, administrative tolerance for rape.”

The report (available here), a biannual summary of complaints brought to the University-wide Committee on Sexual Misconduct between January 1, 2013 and June 30, 2013, notes that the incident accounts do not “fully capture the diversity and complexity of the circumstances associated with the complaints or the factors that determined the outcomes and sanctions.” That’s fair. But they’re still overwhelmingly disappointing.

Based on our analysis of the report, Yale has formally found sufficient evidence against six perpetrators of “nonconsensual sex” so far in 2013.* Of these six perpetrators, only one was suspended, and only for one year. One is on “probation” (until he rapes again?), and four received “written reprimands.” To summarize: five out of these six “nonconsensual sex”-havers will graduate with a slap on the wrist (and an Ivy League diploma) or stay on campus, and the sixth can come back in a year. Hey: most of them were encouraged to seek counseling. That’s thoughtful.

“It’s really irresponsible [for Yale] to let known perpetrators of rape stay on campus alongside the survivor and alongside other students who could potentially be victimized in the future,” said Hannah Slater (’13 YSPH ’14). “They’re not making the campus a safer place.”

Slater pointed out that Duke recently revised its sexual assault guidelines: starting in the fall, the preferred disciplinary sanction for students responsible for sexual assault will be expulsion. Why is Yale “recommending” counseling and writing reprimands instead of cracking down as promised?

This is why the Department of Education needs to actually enforce federal laws, Brodsky told us, citing a Change.org petition that might hopefully pressure the government into doing so. “Yale has gotten away with these exact same abuses in the past — the OCR let it off without a public non-compliance finding, despite evidence of many violations — why wouldn’t it continue in the same manner?”

Good question.

*We only counted straight-up “nonconsensual sex” (sigh).

Image via Wikimedia.

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