This article first appeared in Eagle Rising.
On September 17, I attended the University of California Regents meeting held at UC Irvine. My purpose was to attend the session on campus intolerance and participate in the public comments forum to address anti-Semitism. During the morning, however, the regents devoted an hour or so to discussion about campus rape and sexual assault. I took notes and think it is worthwhile making some observations.
Appearing before the regents were several university officials from various UC campuses whose duties revolved around or include sexual assault. They presented several overheads on a screen to describe the work they do in this area. What I heard was a series of bureaucratic mumbo jumbo full of details about training, training, training, online modules, points of education, role playing, learner characteristics, sex offense work shops, etc. I thought my head was going to explode. One woman stressed the need to tailor training programs to different groups, athletes, gay-lesbian-bi-sexual, trans-gender, pan-gender, Greek (fraternities-sororities), incoming students, faculty, staff etc.
One overhead described a sex offense workshop they had conducted recently with the points they covered. Someone stressed the need to include graduate students in the training. A student representative questioned how the board of regents could identify with diverse (ethnic) victims if they themselves were not more diverse. One young female deputy regent talked about perceptions of gay-lesbian, trans-gender, bi-sexual, pan-gender victims as being a factor.
The UCI official tasked with this issue talked about how the university handles cases in terms of investigation, interviewing victims, hearings against accused, etc. (student discipline adjudication).
All this time, I was thinking, "Nobody has mentioned the word alcohol". Not one time.
Yet, here were these ladies talking about their "revolutionary movement" and the "accolades" they have received for their efforts.
Let me stop here and say that I consider no crime more heinous (excepting murder) than rape. It is a serious crime. That said, why is it that universities, who are so consumed with this issue, not even mention the role of alcohol, which in my opinion is the biggest causal factor by far. In fact, the most serious substance abuse problem in college is binge drinking.
We are not talking about co-eds walking back to their dorms at night and being accosted by some guy who jumps out of the bushes. These sexual assault cases and accusations almost always arise out of alcohol consumption. Yet, the word alcohol is never mentioned. The speakers never mentioned it and the overheads said nothing about it. The closest was one overhead that had the phrase, "Can I bi you a drink?" Then right below it, was a reference to "healthy dating in the bi- and pan-sexual community."
You know what else was never mentioned?
Gabriel Piterberg, the UCLA professor who is the subject of multiple complaints of sexual harassment and unwanted physical contact from UCLA female students. Those accusers have also accused the university in a lawsuit of not responding to their complaints. I have no idea as to the guilt or innocence of Piterberg, but he was the second 800-pound gorilla sitting in the back of the room.
There was also a claim made that 1 in 5 co-eds is the victim of sexual assault. That number has been disputed, but I will leave it at that.
As for the campus rile in investigating these crimes, why can't they let the police do this? They are the ones trained and equipped to handle these cases. If a student is charged, they can suspend the student and expel him upon conviction. The efforts of the universities to get involved in the investigation has led to the Duke lacrosse fiasco and the more recent University of Virginia fiasco.
And as for questioning the diversity of the regents (26 in all), I concede I was seated in the back of the room and my eyes are not so good, but it looked to me like there was plenty of diversity among them. I guess there were too many white males among them as well.
It is all so typical of how universities handle problems. The biggest problem of bias on campus is anti-Semitism, yet they come up with a proposed statement of principles on intolerance that never mentions anti-Semitism. Then they discuss sexual assault in torturous detail but never mention alcohol. Welcome to the Land of Oz.
I'll tell you something else. Nobody ever had to train me not to be a rapist.