Editorial: A first step forward

Friday, January 23, 2015

On Thursday afternoon, President Christina Paxson P’19 updated the Brown community on the advancement of the recommendations of the Sexual Assault Task Force’s interim report, formally outlining the administration’s progress and implementation strategies in a number of key areas. While the task force’s interim report did indeed underscore significant progress with regard to more formally addressing the pressing issue of sexual assault on campus, this recent correspondence shows focused progress in achieving the aforementioned goal. Moreover, it does so with a degree of transparency that is paramount in collaboratively and effectively combatting the problem of sexual assault going forward.

The task force’s interim report released Dec. 16 emphasizes reforming the University’s judicial procedures in cases of sexual assault while acknowledging the inherent sensitivity of matter. The report confronts the relation of sexual assault to rape culture, as well as the important role of proper education in preventing sexual misconduct. Beyond making concrete recommendations, the task force underscored the need to bolster a system in which all Brown community members “are equally valued, respected and safe” by way of the Sexual Assault Peer Education program and potential additional training and awareness programs for students and employees alike.

In parsing through the recommendations of the 25-page report, Paxson approved and acknowledged the implementation of various initiatives, including the creation of a new Sexual Misconduct and Title IX website, the use of trained investigators in probing instances of sexual assault, and the limitation of the appeals process to no more than 30 days. Additionally, the task force will now include three new members who are especially familiar with these policies, including former Coordinator of Sexual Assault Prevention and Advocacy Bita Shooshani, bringing valuable experience to the group and giving it more credibility with the community. While difficult to gauge the eventual efficacy of these changes, Paxson’s direct and line-itemed approach undoubtedly points to a degree of progress, though not all-encompassing.

This round of policy change focuses heavily on reworking the appeals process to make survivors feel safer and more comfortable. But it largely ignores the charge to “change the culture of the Brown campus,” though in fairness the report did not call for immediate action on this front. Reacting to the University’s new alcohol policy, a number of students told The Herald Thursday that while alcohol can be a catalyst for sexual assault, it is not the core of the problem.

These new measures begin to evince the comprehensive solution that our campus needs. But these proposals are the low-hanging fruit. Justice is critical, but prevention is the goal and the former does not always beget the latter. The question is whether the University can execute on the more challenging obstacles.

Editorials are written by The Herald’s editorial page board: its editors, Alexander Kaplan ’15 and James Rattner ’15, and its members, Zoila Bergeron ’17, Natasha Bluth ’15, Manuel Contreras ’16, Baxter DiFabrizio ’15, Manuel Monti-Nussbaum ’15 and Katherine Pollock ’16. Send comments to

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  1. By admitting that there is rape culture at Brown University, Chris Paxson is admitting 2 things. She admits that she knows there to be rape at Brown University, and she admits that she has done nothing about this crime because it has been accepted as a culture on campus. In other words, Chris Paxson aids and abets this felony, and cares about this so little that she admits it as a matter of course. The rapists must be put in jail. Chris Paxson must be put in jail.

  2. See a chart showing a 58% decline in rape in the general population:

    Now reflect on the following, as recently reported by the liberal, “The College Rape Overcorrection”

    “’Non-student females are victims of violence at rates 1.7 times greater than are college females,’ the authors wrote, and this greater victimization holds true for sex crimes: ‘Even if the definition of violence were limited to sexual assaults, these crimes are more pervasive for young adult women who are not in college.’”

    But the “rape culture” on campus has led us to this:

    “Rape on the campus”

    “Even though the man in this case was equally drunk (and could conceivably have regretted the incident himself), only the impaired judgment of his accuser would be considered relevant in establishing whether an assault took place.”

    Think about the erosion of due-process rights when you consider that women falsely accuse far more often than campus feminists claim.

    A serial false accusers:

    “Any honest veteran sex assault investigator will tell you that rape is one of the most falsely reported crimes,” says Denver prosecutor Craig Silverman. “During my time as a prosecutor … I was amazed to see all the false rape allegations … You would have to see it to believe it.” Daily Caller,

    “Here Are EIGHT Campus Rape Hoaxes Eerily Like The UVA Rape Story”

    Will the same erosion of due-process rights apply to the women accused of sexual assault? Yes, women not only falsely accuse men of rape, they also rape them:

    “A rape epidemic — by women?”

    “When the rapist is a she”

    “When Women Sexually Assault Men”

    I sincerely believe it all could have been so very different — so much better — between men and women. There’s still hope. See:

    “The Sexual Harassment Quagmire: How To Dig Out”

    It’s a detailed look at what I think is the sexes’ most alienating and destructive behavioral difference, which is responsible for much of what is called sexual assault of women.

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