Don’t have any sexual interaction on college campuses today or you may be in trouble.
James, a freshman at the University of California-Davis, was on his way to math class when he received an email that would derail his life for the next few months: The university’s Title IX office, which handles sexual misconduct disputes between students, was investigating a complaint against him.
This was in February 2018, at a time of heightened public attention to the problem of predatory men taking advantage of vulnerable women. Journalists had exposed Harvey Weinstein, Al Franken, Louis C.K., Kevin Spacey, Roy Moore, and others for committing a variety of sexual misdeeds.
“This was not a good time to get accused of something like this,” James tells Reason.
The email from the Title IX compliance officer went into great detail about the seriousness of James’s situation. He would be investigated in accordance with the university’s sexual assault and sexual violence policies, as well as the student code, which covers physical assault, threats of violence, and conduct that threatens health and safety. A finding of responsibility could result in suspension, or even expulsion.
But the email was short on details of the alleged misconduct. According to the Title IX office, a female student, Becky, had complained that James touched her “on her breasts and buttocks over and under her clothing without her consent.” (I am using pseudonyms for both James and Becky.)