The original story seemed straight out of Owen Johnson or Burt L. Standish‘s school stories: Yale’s record-breaking quarterback forced to choose between the interview that could win him a Rhodes Scholarship and playing for Yale against Harvard in The Game, turns his back on dreams of Oxford and dons his uniform to take the field for dear old Yale.
The New York Slimes, last week, published a story based on information from anonymous sources (apparently from within the administration of Yale itself), flagrantly violating that institution’s confidentiality policies, alleging that Witt’s Rhodes application had been compromised by an “informal” sexual assault charge made against Witt in September by another student. The article went on to detail a couple of minor brushes with the law on the Yale senior’s record, hinting darkly at a pattern of criminality on the part of the Yale senior.
The New York Times’ decision to destroy a college senior’s personal reputation by elevating an anonymous allegation, unsupported by any evidence and purveyed by a secondary layer of anonymous sources, to national news provoked both astonishment from ESPN and well-deserved indignation from the Wall Street Journal.
What the Times’ smear article really represents is a shocking case of toxic spillover from the radical left-wing head of the Obama Administration’s Department of Education Office for Civil Rights (OCR), Russlyn Ali‘s personal campaign to reinvigorate Title IX Anti-Discrimination enforcement on American campuses.
Her approach amounted to nothing less than arm-twisting university administrations to participate in a federally-required witch hunt against â€œsexual harassment,â€ with sexual harassment defined in the broadest possible terms to include â€œverbal, nonverbal, or physical conductâ€ in any fashion connected with sex which is â€œunwelcomeâ€ to someone or anyone, and asserting that harassing conduct in general may create â€œa hostile environmentâ€ anytime the conduct is deemed â€œsufficiently seriousâ€ as to interfere with some studentâ€™s ability to participate in or benefit from the schoolâ€™s program.
Russlyn Ali’s notorious “Dear Colleague” letter of 4 April 2011 essentially mandates new grievance procedures, processes, and tribunals, specifically reduces standards of proof, and threatens “appropriate remedies” for noncompliance including both withdrawal of all forms of federal funding and assistance and lawsuits by the Justice Department.
The Obama Administration’s Education Department mandates on-campus inquisitions into a supposititious pattern of nation-wide victimization of female students by sexual harassment and assault. Patrick Witt, a white male member of Yale’s Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity, ideally fits the favored profile stereotype of male harassers and assaulters. These days, a politically incorrect smart remark or an unwelcome date request can be construed as a punishable offense. Who knows who accused Witt of exactly what or why? We can, I think, tell that the charge did not rise to what we usually think of as a crime since no police complaint was made. He hasn’t been arrested or charged with any crime. The assault the Times reported was clearly one of the notional assaults prosecutable only in the kind of jurisdictions, like our university campuses, successfully annexed by the radical left, where justice consists of whatever Russlyn Ali says it is.