The story doesn’t appear to be particularly complicated, even if there may be variations of it hidden behind Facebook and Twitter posts. Ellie Johnson was a student at Indiana University in Bloomington, and did what students have done for a very long time.
An 18-year-old woman told Bloomington police Sunday that she was raped after a party Friday night.
The woman told police she and the man were messaging back-and-forth on a dating site before they decided to go to some parties together.
She said the two of them drank vodka throughout the night and were drunk when they returned to his apartment and had sex. She said she was too drunk to consent to sex.
She didn’t say she wasn’t an enthusiastic participant. She didn’t say she was blacked out, which has apparently grown into a national epidemic from almost never happening before this shift in sexual rules. She didn’t suggest the guy with whom she got drunk was a terrible person or inartful in the ways of sex. Just that she was too drunk to consent to sex.
There is no law that says “drunk sex is not consent.” Incapacitation precludes consent, but drunk isn’t incapacitation. Having meandered passionately into the cesspool of college sex policing, colleges have struggled to explain the new rules of feminist-approved sex rituals because they defy objective expression. What’s drunk anyway? Cops use a black box to determine blood alcohol content, and even then arbitrarily employ percentages that MADD made up of whole cloth decades ago.
As college students are disinclined to read anything longer than a fortune cookie, and think beyond a platitude, colleges have put up simplistic signs in the co-ed bathrooms to the effect that Drunk Sex Is Rape. And should the mood hit a woman that day after she chose to imbibe heavily, a prior night’s consensual cavorting magically turns into the next day’s heinous outrage.
Except neither the police nor IU bought in this time.
She said she was raped more than 15 months ago but didn’t immediately report it to the university. After her case was investigated, the accused student wasn’t punished. Johnson appealed the outcome, but Indiana maintained its decision.
As Plan A failed, Johnson was left to her own devices.
Ellie Johnson has taken to Twitter every day for more than a week, raging at Indiana University at Bloomington.
Johnson, a student there, says she was raped, but the institution subsequently found the student she accused not responsible. She said the university violated its own policies on sexual assault and infringed on a key federal gender antidiscrimination law.
Inside Higher Ed has always struggled with the significance of Title IX, as have so many who mistake it for a federal law compelling colleges to police student’s dating and sex rituals. It’s therefore unsurprising that Johnson similarly fails to demonstrate any grasp of the law.
But in fairness to her, IU’s “policies” may well extend beyond and around the requirements of Title IX, whether by design, clueless exuberance or inartful explanation. If IU tells its students that drunk sex is not consent, why would they think otherwise?
“They violated their own policies and Title IX with me,” Johnson wrote on Facebook, referring to the federal law Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. “They pretend like there is a culture of care on campus, but according to the dozens of men and women in my direct messages across various platforms, IU couldn’t give a crap about anything other than keeping their numbers down. They have screwed over HUNDREDS of survivors for decades. I have proof. We all have similar horror stories.”
“Horror stories” is a curious characterization of the “survivors” scenario. Did Freddie Kruger force vodka down her throat, force her to go to the guy’s place, force her to do whatever they did there? Seems unlikely. But even more curious is that she doesn’t rail against her “rapist,” but her college for not believing her. She has proof. She said so.
Of course, IU says what bureaucrats invariably say.
For Indiana’s part, it posted a public statement on Twitter a day after Johnson’s initial tweet. The university’s response was derided as generic and dismissive of systemic problems there.
In a follow-up statement, the university said it didn’t want to compromise student privacy but said that Johnson’s case was investigated thoroughly and in line with university policy. For Title IX cases, Indiana uses a three-person panel of professors and staff who are trained in sexual assault and adjudication, the university said. Officials estimated 75 hours of personnel work went into Johnson’s case, with cases averaging around 100 hours of work, but ranging up to 125 hours.
Between the lines, IU says they investigated and even a school as progressive as IU just wasn’t going with this one. So Johnson turned to her only friend, social media, to vindicate the horror of getting drunk and having sex.
Her first tweet about her case June 25 (which racked up more than 2,000 retweets and 5,000 likes) snowballed into a massive viral social media campaign against Indiana, with students and activists local and beyond trashing the university’s policies and its handling of sexual violence.
Johnson hasn’t stopped what she called “the social media madness.”
“I just want to remind @IUBloomington that there are humans in grave suffering,” she wrote on Twitter. There are humans standing on the line between life and death because YOU LET THEIR RAPISTS GO! Any crimes they commit in the future falls on your shoulders for not stopping it when you had the chance.”
To her credit, she hasn’t used twitter to destroy the life of the fellow with whom she voluntarily spent the night drinking, with whom she had consensual sex while intoxicated, assuming she was, but not incapacitated, which she doesn’t claim. And to IU’s dismay, believers believe, the lack of any detailed allegations to sustain her conclusions, nothwithstanding.
Hey @IUBloomington. I am an alum and now running for office.
Ellie was brave enough to share her story. Now it is up to you to be brave enough to do your jobs and defend your students.
If elected, I will have IU student rape survivors share their stories at the Statehouse. https://t.co/YoxyXa3Kov
— Jared Stancombe (@jaredforindiana) June 29, 2018
Granted, Jared may be pandering for votes, but it would appear to lend some degree of gravitas to the allegations, even if it suggests that he’s not quite up to the job of being responsible for grown up things like legislation. And others too have sought to muscle IU to “do something.”
One woman wrote to Johnson and said she told an incoming Indiana student and her mother about Johnson’s story.
“They said if IU doesn’t do anything about it then her daughter would not be attending the school,” she tweeted to the university. “Your negligence is driving students away.”
A wag might suggest that mom put her efforts toward her daughter’s drinking problem, or teach her to say “no” if she means no. But this is more about supporting Ellie Johnson, even if she confuses her own irresponsibility and choices with a heinous crime that she fortunately didn’t suffer.