Seaton: When Title IX Meets COVID-19

Prefatory Note: Sticky sent me something interesting this week. I leave it here for the SJ readership to analyze. Sticky also asked me to pass along a message: if you’re using Zoom to work from home, make sure you’re not sharing any sensitive information on that platform.—CLS

TRANSCRIPT OF IN RE ROGER STRAIT, CAMPUS MISCONDUCT HEARING, EVERGREEN STATE

[Five faces appear in the Zoom meeting. One screen is distorted.]

DEAN WORMER: All right, it appears as all parties are here for this campus misconduct proceeding pursuant to Title IX. This hearing is In re Roger Strait, regarding sexual misconduct allegations filed by a party who for the purposes of this proceeding will be addressed as “Jane Doe.” We appreciate all parties participating in this proceeding. For the visually impaired, the parties are using jazz hands to signal their support.

[The dean and two professors wave jazz hands]

WORMER: With us as members of this tribunal are professors Rain Windrunner of our Gender Studies Department and Charles Douglas of the Toxic Masculinity Fellowship. Professors, speak your truths and identify your preferred pronouns.

PROF. WINDRUNNER: Hello all, pronouns they/them

PROF. DOUGLAS: Hello. Pronouns he/him.

WORMER: Now to our parties. Since Evergreen State places a priority on protecting victims of sexual assault, Jane Doe’s identity and voice will be altered for the purposes of this proceeding. Ms. Doe, speak your truth and state your preferred pronouns.

DOE: [distorted] Jane Doe. Pronouns she/her.

WORMER: Mr. Strait, speak your truth and state your preferred pronouns.

STRAIT: Um, Roger Strait, I’m a he/him guy.

WORMER: Noted. Two, no, three privilege points assessed.

STRAIT: What?

WORMER: Mr. Strait, here at Evergreen State we conduct campus misconduct hearings on a privilege point-based system. As a white cisgender heteronormative male, you have at least two privilege points assessed against you in this hearing automatically. I’m assessing a third because your last name is problematic.

STRAIT: Wait, this is a misconduct hearing! Isn’t there some sort of burden of proof or something?

WORMER: That’s four points assessed towards a finding of guilt. I can do this all day, Mr. Strait.

WINDRUNNER: Let’s begin with testimony from the survivor. Ms. Doe, first we want to applaud your courage in coming forward to speak your truth. For the visually impaired, the tribunal is showing support for Ms. Doe by jazz hands.

[The tribunal wave jazz hands]

WINDRUNNER: You may begin speaking your truth, Ms. Doe.

DOE: [distorted] I met Roger at a party. He was very excited to discuss his engineering project for the semester by crafting artisanal hand sanitizer. I thought he was cute, and wanted to hook up with him. After a few drinks I invited him back to my apartment for sex. He said he was into me, but it probably wasn’t a good idea since we’d both been drinking.

I was horribly distraught. I cried all the way home and was inconsolable for the next two days. My roommates kept trying to lift my spirits, but nothing worked. Then one of them showed me an article from some website called “The Belle Jar” about something called “reverse rape.” That’s when I knew I had to file a sexual misconduct complaint.

WORMER: Is that the conclusion of your truth, Ms. Doe?

DOE: Yes.

WORMER: The Tribunal accepts Ms. Doe’s truth and shifts the burden of proof to Mr. Strait. It is time to hear testimony from the reverse rapist.

STRAIT: What? That’s ridiculous. There’s no such thing as “reverse rape.”

DOUGLAS: Ms. Doe stated her truth that “reverse rape” is a concept she learned from the blog “The Belle Jar.” Ignorance of the blawg is no excuse, Mr. Strait. Disprove the notion you are a reverse rapist or be found guilty.

STRAIT: Okay. I think I know who this is. I met a female student named Cassie at—

WORMER: The reverse rapist will refer to his victim as Jane Doe.

STRAIT: Oh for fuck’s sake, this is ridiculous.

WORMER: Continue spewing your vile masculinity.

STRAIT: Okay, so I met Jane at a party. We did have a couple of drinks. And I did talk about my project in recreating a full moonshine still. But when she asked me if I wanted to have sex with her, I said she was cute and I was into her but I didn’t think it was a good idea since we’d both been drinking. She slapped me and ran off sobbing! I’m sorry if I offended her, but I’m not a rapist!

WINDRUNNER: Mr. Strait, your toxic masculinity and place of privilege obviously blinds you to the truth that cisgender heteronormative males must always consent to sex when women demand it.

STRAIT: But our Introductory Privilege class said sexual consent must be “mutual, enthusiastic, and freely given at all times during sex.” Doesn’t that include a man’s consent as well?

DOUGLAS: Campus policy dictates “consent” for cisgender heteronormative males is “yes” by default.

STRAIT: How was I supposed to know this?

DOUGLAS: It’s in endnote 447 of your Class Handbook.

STRAIT: That thousand page manual I got in the mail when I was accepted to Evergreen State?

DOUGLAS: Yes.

STRAIT: Do I have any chance at all in this proceeding?

WORMER: Of course. You simply have to admit your guilt, acknowledge your place of privilege as a reverse rapist, and make amends to Jane Doe.

STRAIT: I am not a rapist, a reverse rapist, or guilty of any sexual misconduct!

WINDRUNNER: That’s enough for the tribunal. The tribunal will now deliver its verdict.

STRAIT: Fuck it. I quit. Evergreen State’s a joke and so is this whole “proceeding.”

[Strait’s screen disappears]

DOUGLAS: Did he just walk out on this proceeding?

WORMER: I think he did. This is unprecedented!

WINDRUNNER: So what do we do now?

SHERMER: We send a campus-wide email to all faculty, students, and staff announcing a preliminary finding of guilt, note Mr. Strait’s voluntary self-expulsion for reverse raping Jane Doe, and send the tribunal’s decision to the Bias Response Office for approval.

DOUGLAS: So do we face any kind of actual legal ramifications for doing something like this?

WORMER: This is academia, Professor Douglas. “Laws” are theoretical and non-binding if they don’t apply to our truth here. Let’s conclude by a mutual showing of jazz hands.

[The professors wave jazz hands and end the Zoom meeting.]

8 thoughts on “Seaton: When Title IX Meets COVID-19

  1. Howl

    Your attention please. The following is a public service announcement from the Simple Justice Music Guild (SJMG).

    For those struggling with home-schooling their children, here is a lesson on dealing with the coronavirus pandemic:

  2. L. Phillips

    Have had the misfortune recently to be introduced to Zoom as a supposed method of communication in business settings. If the intention was to alternately create chaos reminiscent of a turkey farm and stone faced silence the developer is a genius.

    With that personal experience as background, Zoom seems the perfect venue for Title IX hearings.

  3. Richard Kopf

    CLS,

    I held my first plea and sentencing hearing via video conference yesterday. I was especially glad therefor that you made your post available to the rest of us.

    But I have a question. What are “jazz hands?” I may wish to use them in the future in order to liven up the proceedings depending upon whether the gestures meet my sensibilities.

    I love “cool jazz.” You know Dave Brubeck Quartet style, like “Take Five” (composed by Paul Desmond). So, if “jazz hands” emanates from some lesser, bastardized form of “jazz,” done expect me to stoop so low as to use them.

    Awaiting your answer, I remain, ever faithfully, yours,

    RGK

    1. SHG

      Given that this case may soon come before you on a Title IX action, it’s good idea to bone up on your jazz hands. They can be hard to do if one’s wrists are inadequately limber.

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