By Kumar Ramanathan
Jun 4, 2013
When Kerry Barrett, a student at the University of Montana, reported her attempted rape, she was asked if she had a boyfriend, told “not to expect much,” and told that half of all rape allegations were false. Six Montana football players allegedly committed sexual assault over a three year period, including one incident where three of them allegedly attacked a single woman. A Justice Department investigation found that university officials failed to inform police about two students who both reported being raped in the same night by the same man until a week after the incident, giving the alleged rapist time to flee the country. And this is not just a problem in the University of Montana – the epidemic of sexual assault and rape culture on college campuses has received increased attention in recent years, partially due to growing student protest.
Yet these incidents do not seem to bother many conservative writers. They’re more upset about the Obama Administration’s efforts to prevent similar incidents from occurring in the future.
An agreement between federal agencies and the University of Montana over the college’s sexual harassment policies unleashed an onslaught of condemnation from conservatives, who argue that a new precedent has been set for speech restrictions across college campuses. Accusations on op-ed pages have ranged from “No Sex Talk Allowed” and “The De-Eroticized University” to “Federal Title IX Enforcers Effectively Define Dating and Sex Education as ‘Sexual Harassment’“.
Hans Bader of the Competitive Enterprise Institute writes that the resolution “has dire implications for dating” and “undermines freedom of intimate association.” Ken Masugi finds that the university has been “de-eroticized” in a “legalistic, centralized crackdown on talk about sex.” George Will at the Washington Post goes so far as to allege that colleges are now required to “adopt speech codes” and “censorship regimes.”