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Emily Yoffe Can't Stop Talking About Campus Sexual Assault

Shamer of drunk women everywhere, Emily Yoffe is back with yet another rant about the injustices of campus sexual assault. She reviewed a documentary, The Hunting Ground, and picked apart all the things the film didn't cover.

The whole article is really long, but Yoffe summarizes her belief that men get a raw deal when it comes to campus sexual assault, there isn't an epidemic, and the numbers are out of whack anyway. It reads more like a heavy academic paper than anything else.


Yoffe can do a battle with the numbers all she likes. She logically debunked a study here and there. Regardless, justice for victims of campus sexual assault remains a fantasy for far too many women. There's a reason that UVA's Jackie, albeit most of that story was on shaky ground, brought out so many other stories not just from UVA and other prestigious universities but nationwide. We will probably never know what truly happened to Jackie, but Yoffe's nitpicking and Jackie's half-truths don't invalidate other women's experiences in dealing with higher education bureaucrats, especially when UVA was in Title IX hot water before this happened.

To challenge this idea that schools only care about their fiscal butts, Yoffe mentions the Vanderbilt gang rape case.

If ever a school had an opportunity to ignore a possible rape and spare itself a grave blow to its reputation, this was it. Instead, the campus police turned the footage over to Nashville police (and Vanderbilt eventually kicked the young men off the football team and expelled them). At first the victim refused to believe anything had happened to her. But the detectives were persistent, and their evidence, including horrifying cellphone videos, convinced her. After the verdict, she gave her heartfelt thanks to the authorities who helped her and made sure justice was done.


Oh well because one university did the right thing, then that must mean everyone else will too. Sure. UVA, Yale, and other universities remain under Title IX investigation for their rape-covering shenanigans. Yes, Vanderbilt did the right thing, but they don't get a medal for it, and that's not a sign of nationwide change.

At the emotional heart of the film are a few extended stories, and they are wrenching. But these accounts leave out the kind of crucial details that show how complicated these cases can be. One is about Lizzy Seeberg, a 19-year-old who committed suicide by taking an overdose of antidepressants after reporting that a University of Notre Dame football player had forcibly kissed and touched her. (There was no allegation of rape.) It is agony to hear her father describe his daughter's last days. But surely the filmmakers have an obligation to mention that Seeberg had long been treated for depression and anxiety and that her therapist noted she'd previously had "suicidal thoughts." And fairness would require them to acknowledge the accused's differing version of the evening.


Oh cool, I'm so glad Yoffe brought this up because she also left out an ironic detail. When Seeberg tried to report the incident, Notre Dame blew her off. But when a hotshot football player got duped by a fake girlfriend, the University thought that merited hiring a private investigator. The message: fake women who mess with a Heisman Trophy candidate get more consideration and attention than a real one who killed herself. While Seeberg may have had mental health issues, that's completely irrelevant when judging Notre Dame's inaction. Suicidal thoughts don't negate outside negligence.


Yoffe does have a point about what she calls an "overreaction" to campus sexual assault. But what she wholeheartedly ignores is that if colleges and universities effectively and transparently dealt with this issue on their own, instead of shoving it under the rug, then perhaps the federal government wouldn't be throwing red tape around. Because there is an established record of not giving a fuck for decades, higher education should expect an emotional response and bureaucratic rules. That's what punishment is for.

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