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College #MeToo: Since when is kissing and not dating a sex crime?

Micah Curtis
Micah Curtis

is a game and tech journalist from the US. Aside from writing for RT, he hosts the podcast Micah and The Hatman, and is an independent comic book writer. Follow Micah at @MindofMicahC

is a game and tech journalist from the US. Aside from writing for RT, he hosts the podcast Micah and The Hatman, and is an independent comic book writer. Follow Micah at @MindofMicahC

College #MeToo: Since when is kissing and not dating a sex crime?
Williams College, a school in Massachusetts, has suspended a male student after some kissing and touching with a female student, accusing him of ‘sexual misconduct.’ His crime? He says it was refusing to date her afterwards.

The college boy kissed and touched a female student (both of whom are anonymous in the reports), and the boy ended up being suspended because the girl says their encounters (more than one) were without her “affirmative consent.”

But now the boy is suing the college, telling his side of the story. He says the girl really filed the Title IX complaint because he hurt her “conservative religious values” by not pursuing a romantic relationship with her after they got all smoochy. She says he “emotionally manipulat[ed]” her and took “advantage of [her] lack of knowledge of American cultural norms.” She allegedly even told him that she had “lots of people ready to hurt him” for it.

Williams College’s code of conduct states that consent “once given can be withdrawn at any time.” But when it happens so late after the fact, that’s not a withdrawal of consent – that’s regret. It’s a human emotion. It’s something that everyone with a conscience has. At some point in a person’s life, you will do something you regret. Especially with romance. Sometimes you kiss the wrong person, or go further than that. You can’t just sic the proverbial dogs on someone just because you aren’t happy with yourself.

Or maybe you can. Assuming what’s said in the young man’s lawsuit is true, the college may have opened up a chilling precedent. The investigation was allegedly very biased in favor of the young woman. Apparently the letter he received from the dean of the college, Marlene Sandstrom, didn’t have much details. It left out the nature of the interactions, specific dates, locations, and even whether the young lady was incapable of consent. It didn’t even specify violated code provisions. The dean also prevented the young man from providing his own relevant evidence – which would mean he was suspended on the word of a disgruntled young woman, who threatened him with violence to boot.

Put a lot of young men and women on a campus, and relationships are going to form. Romance is going to happen. There may be wonderful things afterwards, but you can count on broken hearts. Imagine a world where every person who has their heart broken by someone was able to legally wreck their lives in revenge? To destroy someone’s educational prospects over a consensual kiss or some moderately-intimate touching, only because afterwards you find out the person is otherwise a jerk and regret having anything to do with them? If the John Doe’s suit is true, it’s the world we live in.

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Ultimately, this is an unsettling situation. Should the young man have approached the situation differently? Yes. Should he play games with a young woman’s heart? No, he shouldn’t. Does he deserve to lose his education over bad decisions made in the pursuit of companionship? No, as long as he hasn’t broken any rules. To think otherwise is to adopt backward cultural norms more appropriate for a third-world country.

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The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

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