After “kissing and touching” a female student, a male student was reported for refusing to date her. However, he was ultimately suspended when the college deans determined that he had committed sexual misconduct by being “culturally insensitive” to the female student’s needs.
Williams College in Williamstown, Massachusetts has come under fire for a bizarre decision regarding personal romantic encounters between two of its students. The controversy began when a Hispanic male student, identified as “John Doe,” and a Hispanic female student, identified as “Sally Smith,” engaged in consensual sexual contact that led to an unbelievable complaint.
According to The College Fix, the school launched an internal investigation after Sally accused John of failing to pursue a relationship with her after “kissing and touching.” Sally claimed that John didn’t have her “affirmative consent” during the encounter, which included making out and touching her breasts. Sally was able to refer to the college’s Code of Conduct, which states that “consent, once given, may be withdrawn at any time.” Sally claimed that she had withdrawn her consent via text messages after the encounters were over.
Sally romantically pursued John for several months after their initial encounter, expressing that she had “never kissed a boy” due to her “restrictive cultural norms in her home country.” However, when John didn’t return her feelings, Sally sought to make him pay for allegedly misleading her.
Sally “expressed anger about what she saw as Doe’s cultural insensitivity around their prior interaction” – failing to seek a romantic relationship with her after showing physical affection.
Several days later, John asked Sally why her friends were “treating him strangely.” She told him he had “emotionally manipulat[ed]” her, “tak[en] advantage of [her] lack of knowledge of American cultural norms” and “disrespect[ed]” her own cultural norms.
Sally filed a Title IX complaint with the college over John’s “culturally insensitive” behavior, which launched an internal investigation. Associate Dean of International Student Services Ninah Pretto contacted John, warning him that his actions could be considered sexual harassment. Soon after, Dean of the College Marlene Sandstrom barred him from reaching out to potential witnesses for his defense or offering any evidence to support his case.
The school hired former lawyer Allyson Kurker to conduct the investigation. However, Kurker also violated the school’s policy by denying John the chance to suggest witnesses for questioning as well as withholding crucial details about testimony by Sally’s witnesses. The school even refused to review evidence that Sally has a history of making “repeated accusations of cultural insensitivity.”
Ultimately, John was suspended. However, he wasn’t giving up. Soon after, he filed a lawsuit against Williams College and its administrators, claiming that he was wrongfully punished by a “flawed disciplinary process” in which gender bias was a “motivating factor.” U.S. District Judge Mark Mastroianni granted John approval to pursue his litigation.
Subsequently, John was allowed to present evidence that Sally made threats of physical violence toward him as well as telling him that she “had lots of people ready to hurt him.” The threats allegedly came in an effort to force John to enter a relationship with her.
The lawsuit claimed the panel that ruled on his suspension made its decision based on a set of stereotypical and discriminatory instructions taken from a 90-page training manual.
“These training materials contain anti-male bias and encourage panelists to stereotype men as sexually aggressive and more likely to commit sexual assault,” while also suggesting that panelists can ignore the “intent” of the accused student.
John claimed that the college allowed Sally to slander him across the campus. Title IX Coordinator Toya Camacho argued that stepping in would stop Sally and other women from “speaking out about their experiences.”
John’s education and future career were halted and possibly permanently damaged by the college’s decision. Fortunately, he finally got to expose his evidence in what was formerly a one-sided process.