Sex, College Sex—and Harvey Weinstein

Several years ago, a member of a once-tony club walked into its bar and noticed that most members weren’t wearing neckties, a requirement that had existed for more than a century. He asked the president, who happened to be at the bar, why the rule had been changed. The president said that a majority of the members no longer wanted to wear ties. The member replied, quicker that you could down an ameliorative shot of premium whiskey, “Sounds like an admissions committee problem.”Perhaps Harvey Weinstein was a new member.

And that sounds like the problem that has troubled a number of universities too, including most especially last year the University of Minnesota, as well as Florida State, the University of Tennessee, Baylor University, and others.

Last year’s Exhibit A student sex scandal was the one at the University of Minnesota where ten students—whose pictures can be seen here—were suspended, but the plot was roughly the same everywhere, every time. A student claimed that she was raped by one or more students. They denied it. She had been drinking. They had been drinking.

What to do? How seriously do we take campus rape? How do we take campus rape seriously?

In the 1960s and 1970s most states passed rape shield laws. These laws, supported especially by feminists, were enacted to protect rape victims from having to have their prior sexual history displayed in court, which tended to make them reluctant to come forward to charge rape. The theory was that just because the accusing woman had had sex with Tom on Monday night and with Dick on Tuesday night it did not mean that the sex she had with Harry on Wednesday night was consensual. Nor would evidence be admissible to show that she had had sex with Tom and his ten friends on Monday and with Dick and his ten friends on Tuesday. With this aspect of the accuser’s character being inadmissible, it was easier to convict a defendant of rape.

But not easy enough for some people, which is why there was a movement to make the standard by which college rape defendants were “tried” by the schools (rather than by a proper jury) the “preponderance of evidence” standard used in civil cases rather than the “beyond reasonable doubt” standard used in criminal cases. President Obama’s Department of Education decreed, and so informed educational institutions, that the civil standard should be applied in college rape cases.

The real problem, of course, is that sex has become entirely casual and recreational. Boys and girls in college—not, really, men and women—live in the same dormitories and copulate as casually as they watch TV, shake hands, or pat each other on the back.  That’s called the Harvey Weinstein excuse.

What if the girl at the University of Minnesota had filed a complaint saying that whereas she had willingly allowed Tom and Dick to pat her on the back, she was outraged and felt personally violated when Harry had done the same, and she was filing an action against him for battery? That is, approximately, what the University of Minnesota’s Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action found to be the situation in the Minnesota case. The details are mind-numbing and can be found in the EOAA’s 80-page report.

In that case, the Minneapolis Police Department concluded that the woman’s sexual contact with the first two men appeared to have been consensual. Whether the sexual contact with the subsequent ten or twenty men was consensual is disputed.

How can we possibly tell? And do we care? And is asking that question the perfect way to scandalize a postmodern progressive liberal—still smarting from Hillary Clinton’s humiliating defeat?  

If a female student is going to treat sex so casually, why shouldn’t her own casual standards—if we can call them standards—be admissible in evidence?

And what about the ten or twenty “men” who lined up at the bedroom door waiting for their turn to have sex with her? Even if the sex was consensual, they should all be expelled. Creatures like that belong in game parks, or zoos—though animals tend not to text their friends, saying things like, “Me and the recruit finna double team this bitch” (“finna” generally means “going to”) or “all 3 them n****s hitting rn” (“hitting” generally means “having sex with,” and “rn” means “right now”).

The real problem is that students have received no teaching about sex or proper behavior, partly because their parents, if they have resident parents, have bought into the liberal zeitgeist that sex is only recreational. Ask Harvey.

Betsy DeVos, President Trump’s Secretary of Education, fortunately has rescinded the Obama directive to apply the civil “preponderance of evidence” standard to college rape cases. Rape shield laws tip the scales far enough in favor of the accuser. Secretary DeVos’s rescission will annoy (more schadenfreude) the postmodern progressive liberals because they are concerned only with the issue of consent, not the sex.

align=”right” The real problem is that students have received no teaching about sex or proper behavior, partly because their parents, if they have resident parents, have bought into the liberal zeitgeist that sex is only recreational. Ask Harvey.

In addition to being instructed to use the proper legal standard for trying rape cases, colleges and universities should also be given incentives to be more diligent in deterring campus rape. They should be penalized, perhaps losing 5 percent of whatever federal funds they receive, for each campus rape case. “Federal funds,” after all, are taxpayer funds, and if they are going to be given to educational institutions—and whether that is a good idea is a separate issue—they should be used to encourage the institutions to encourage students to behave properly.

At the same time, because the possible loss of funds might tempt the institutions, even if only slightly, to hedge on reporting rape cases, girls at those institutions might have an incentive to behave rather more circumspectly, knowing that the institution might ignore any complaint of rape.

And the potential loss of funds might also give the institutions an incentive to act more in loco 1950s parentis, a task that could be made rather easier if the institutions’ admissions committees tried to admit only students who seemed to have been brought up to treat sex seriously, as a gift from God to be used properly (or if they are non-believers, as a “civil sacrament”), not as mere recreation.  See Harvey Weinstein.

How would a college do such screening? Who knows, but they test for everything else; why not that, too? And surely some of the institutions with the worst records, and perhaps others that didn’t want to join that club, could hire Google to come up with an algorithm that would separate the people from the animals. Screening out the animals may be the only way to reduce the incidence of campus rape. Hollywood is a separate problem.

The problem for postmodern progressive liberals, who are the people running most of the institutions, is that they really don’t have any grounds for taking rape seriously because they don’t take sex seriously—or at least not any more seriously than they take the issue of whether members of tony clubs should wear neckties.



About Daniel Oliver

Daniel Oliver is chairman of the board of the Education and Research Institute and a director of the Pacific Research Institute for Public Policy in San Francisco. In addition to serving as chairman of the Federal Trade Commission under President Reagan, he was executive editor and subsequently chairman of the board of William F. Buckley Jr.’s National Review. Email him at

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