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Zero Tolerance: Here or Anywhere

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On July 10, 2015 a Middlebury student was expelled from the College after an internal investigation found him guilty of sexual assault. The student, “John Doe,” unsuccessfully appealed this decision twice and yet today remains enrolled here for the fall semester. Doe was allowed to return to campus after filing a federal lawsuit against the College for unjust and unlawful expulsion. He has been allowed to remain on campus as the legal proceedings from his case continue.

Doe was accused of sexual assault while studying abroad through the School for International Training (SIT) in the fall of 2014. SIT conducted an investigation shortly thereafter, finding John Doe not responsible and prompting Jane Doe to notify Middlebury College of her belief that SIT’s investigation was poorly conducted and John Doe was guilty. In light of this complaint, Middlebury conducted its own investigation, ultimately ruling against John Doe and expelling him from the College.

We commend the administration for their ultimate decision to conduct Middlebury’s own thorough investigation and for contesting the current injunction. We also understand that SIT had the Title IX responsibility to investigate the claim. However, we at the Campus feel that this legal quagmire could have been avoided if the administration had not initially accepted SIT’s investigation and findings without review.

The College was notified on Nov. 17, 2014 that one of its students was being investigated for alleged sexual assault and was subsequently informed by SIT on Dec. 11, 2014 that Doe had been found not responsible. The College relied entirely on SIT’s decision to allow the student to return to campus for the spring 2015 semester without ever requiring SIT to submit a report of its investigation and findings. It was not until alleged victim Jane Doe contacted the school and submitted her evidence that the College decided to open its own investigation months later. We see this as a massive oversight with implications for every party involved.

The College’s initial decision to rely upon SIT’s ruling created a technicality that Doe’s attorneys skillfully exploited. His counsel is made up of experts in their field with axes to grind; Harvey Silverglate, part of the firm representing Doe, published an op-ed in the Boston Globe asserting that “the campus sexual assault panic” is “one of many social epidemics in our nation’s history that have ruined innocent lives and corrupted justice.” Lawyers like these have the resources to find legal loopholes without having to contend with their clients’ guilt.

What is most upsetting to us as a board is that we do not want outside individuals like Silverglate affecting our ability to police our own community. Although we do not believe Middlebury to be above the law, we worry that if the College must face forces like Silverglate every time it decides to expel a student found guilty of sexual assault, our judicial system may be compromised and victims of sexual assault may hesitate to come forward because of Doe’s complicated legal challenge to Middlebury’s ruling. Now each of us has to share a campus with an individual that our own judicial system deemed unfit for our community. If the College had initially chosen to conduct its own investigation, rather than rely solely upon the findings of SIT, this situation could have been avoided.

This is not to say that our system for investigating sexual misconduct is without flaws. However, we believe it is absolutely essential that the College carefully review all allegations and investigations of Middlebury students’ sexual misconduct abroad. Regardless of when or where misconduct happens, there is no place for sexual assault in this community.

51 Comments

51 Responses to “Zero Tolerance: Here or Anywhere”

  1. Greg on September 24th, 2015 5:15 pm
  2. jack_gott on September 24th, 2015 5:46 pm

    “our judicial system”…ah dear, your little college doesn’t have a “judicial system”.
    The group that you label as “judiciary” no more replaces the real thing than your “Faculty Senate” replaces the actual U.S. Congress. Newsflash: Middlebury’s President is not in charge of the Pentagon, either.
    There’s a time in childhood when it’s perfectly acceptable to name your paper dolls and play with them. The college experience is a good time to stop pretending that toys are real people. When allegations of criminal activity are made, your only role is to pick up a phone and dial 911.
    Now…go back and study your Mandarin conjugates.

    [Reply]

    truth Reply:

    Take this Trump-loving individual-liberties crap somewhere else.

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    jack_gott Reply:

    Interesting response, considering (a) nobody mentioned ‘Trump’, and (b) nobody mentioned ‘individual-liberties’. But other than that, you’re right on point.

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    Speaks Chinese Reply:

    Mandarin doesn’t have conjugates.

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    jack_gott Reply:

    It’s called “irony”, child. I speak Mandarin also, and 5 other lingo’s. Seriously, please consider the difficult task of becoming an adult.

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    Baysil Garibay Reply:

    Hon, you just got called out for making a mistake. Why don’t you stop infantilizing us and shut up?

    jack_gott Reply:

    If you knew Mandarin, you’d get the joke.
    If you knew English, you’d know “infantilizing” is the opposite of urging one to begin “becoming an adult”.
    Languages are useful.
    You should learn at least one.

    Baysil Garibay Reply:

    Pendejo, soy un estudiante medioburiense. I’m well aware that “becoming an adult” is different than “being a child.” When I accuse you of infantilization, I am accusing you of treating us like children.

    Here’s the thing: we are children. I’m not even old enough to drink legally in the United States.

    However, we are legally and financially expected to act as adults. My parents don’t pay anything for me to go to Middlebury; I earned a scholarship. Sorry if that offends you or others, but poor kids want to go to college too.

    It’s clear you’re not a current student, Jack. Because if you were, you’d understand that many of us have to work our asses off in the summers and during breaks to make money for food. Not everyone at Middlebury came from a silver spoon, not that you’d necessarily know that from walking around on campus.

    My brother is having a baby. My cousins are all getting married and thinking of having kids. Where I grew up, 20 years old means adult: paying for your own bills, providing for your wife and kids. The rest of the world sees us as adults. Why can’t you?

    jack_gott Reply:

    I can only suggest/urge you to grow into an adult, I can’t force you.
    You’ll know you’re on the path when you’re able to: (1) form a coherent thought, (2) express that thought without ad hominem, (3) discuss issues without posturing as a ‘victim’ and screeching about nonexistent class distinctions.
    Children pout and whine. Adults analyze and discuss.
    My invitation to adulthood remains open.

    Baysil Garibay Reply:

    Jack, you’re an ass. Middlebury’s honor code dictates who stays at the college and who leaves. You’re an embarrassment to Middlebury who clearly has no respect for our judicial system.

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    jack_gott Reply:

    I can’t decide which is sadder: (a) your inability to express a thought without ad hominem, or (b) your inability to understand the distinction between processing honor code violations and criminal law. Again: Middlebury does not have an apparatus that supplants the criminal courts. Its honor code process must be parallel to the legal system, not supplant it. Otherwise the safety of both supposed victims and accused are threatened.

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    Stoic Melies Reply:

    Clearly having no respect for Middlebury’s “judicial system” is a good thing.

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    Michael Griffith Reply:

    Maybe NYC should declare an “Honor Code” and bring back Stop Question and Frisk. When you guys on the Left point to the 4th Amendment the city can point to their new Honor Code and declare Checkmate!

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    Eric Lauder Reply:

    Snowflakes and liars don’t have honor codes.

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  3. Bob on September 24th, 2015 5:54 pm

    Looks the DOE and OCR are about to get reamed by the U.S. Senate!

    “Practically all of the changes in how colleges and universities handle sexual-assault allegations and investigations were spurred by a 2011 letter from the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR).

    Known as a ‘Dear Colleague’ letter, the OCR proceeded to threaten the higher education community with the loss of federal funding if institutions didn’t adopt slanted procedures against students accused of sexual misconduct, notably the low ‘preponderance of evidence’ standard.

    It was issued without a notice-and-comment process, making OCR’s guidance arguably unenforceable, yet the office has launched Title IX investigations against scores of schools for allegedly violating its unenforceable rules emanating from that letter.

    OCR’s guidance overreach has been weighing on Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tennessee, chairman of the Senate committee that handles education, and President George H.W. Bush’s education secretary.

    It bothered him so much that he crashed a different committee’s hearing Wednesday to lecture a Department of Education official about her lawless underling at OCR. …”

    The chickens are coming home to roost!

    http://www.thecollegefix.com/post/24345/

    Sen. Alexander questions Dept. of Ed. witness at HSGAC hearing on regulatory guidance.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?t=1&v=dIiXuv-Oirw

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  4. Scott Jacobs on September 24th, 2015 6:53 pm

    So y’all ain’t fans of Due Process, eh?

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  5. Stoic Melies on September 24th, 2015 7:02 pm

    ” Although we do not believe Middlebury to be above the law”

    Jesus fucking Christ

    “we worry that if the College must face forces like Silverglate every time it decides to expel a student found guilty of sexual assault, our judicial system may be compromised ”

    Your WHAT???

    “Now each of us has to share a campus with an individual that our own judicial system deemed unfit for our community.”

    No, your judicial system never deemed any such thing. Your kangaroo court did.

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    Baysil Garibay Reply:

    Kangaroo court? If you’re a current Middlebury student, please transfer.

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    Michael Griffith Reply:

    ….To North Korea

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    truthhurts3 Reply:

    Clearly you have no concept of judicial processes in the United States. I hope we taxpayers are not funding your education, because if we are, we’re getting ripped off. You should probably spend more time studying government and civics.

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    Caroline Reply:

    Yes, kangaroo court. You see, real courts have things like a higher standard of evidence for criminal convictions than “probably”, due process protections, and well, an actual trial. That’s what makes it a fair process–as opposed to this witch hunt.

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  6. mogden on September 24th, 2015 8:13 pm

    Colleges have no legitimate role in sexual assault investigations. Their kangaroo courts are an affront to justice. Now have a pat on the head and a cookie and scamper along to bed-time, and leave the grownups to deal with such matters.

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  7. ourfoundingfathers on September 25th, 2015 8:55 am

    “…there’s no place for sexual assault in this community.” So, because you make this statement which no one would disagree with, you think it’s ok to violate a person’s constitutional right to due process. THERE’S NO PLACE FOR THOSE WHO WOULD VIOLATE OUR CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS IN THIS COMMUNITY!

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  8. Roby 83 on September 25th, 2015 9:45 am

    It’s a battle in the feminist war against male students

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    audubon crosby Reply:

    As Wendy Mcelroy said at a debate at Brown this past winter,
    Don’t build justice for women on the injustices of men

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  9. Brian on September 25th, 2015 10:07 am

    “Outside forces” meaning lawyers helping students vindicate their right to due process? Folks, think about what you wrote. Think about who else throughout history stood against due process and for the rights of the “community to police itself”. Now think about how many of those people are looked on positively today. Don’t cast your lot with them.

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  10. audubon crosby on September 25th, 2015 12:30 pm

    Ah the idealist of Middlebury remind me of the Cultural Revolutionaries and the Red Guards and how they purged the learned, These students here are no different with committees to damn people with penises, carrying their title IX, like Mao’s little red book. Better you should study your Mandarin Tones than try your ugly defending of the indefensible Kangaroo Court

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  11. Anders on September 25th, 2015 2:34 pm

    As a European observer with sympathies on the left side of the political spectrum, I can, for all my eagerness to take sexual assault seriously, for the life of me not understand how a civilised country can even think about endorsing the procedure the accused was subjected to.

    From what I understand, there was no formal examination, no formal hearing, no right to counsel – only a cursory investigation by non-specialists whose formal instructions included believing the accuser, using the word victim, mistrust the accused, and downplay the focus on facts. All against the backdrop of federal instructions threatening funding cuts if more perpetrators were not brought to justice.

    To top it all off, this process was allowed to overturn the initial one, which also adhered to the lowest possible standard of evidence.

    Even the Spanish inquisitors were required to carefully document accusations against the people they pursued. And regardless of whether the accusation is true or not, justice will not be served: if true, a rapist gets away with an expulsion. If false, an individuals career prospects crumble and will be branded a sex offender. What, if anything, makes this different from the Salem witch hunt? Lynchings of accused black rapists in the South?

    And why in the world is this kind of penalistic neglect of basic civil rights a brainchild of the LEFT?

    Please, someone, reassure me that this is all one big misunderstanding. Better yet, a dream.

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    Joe D. Reply:

    One cannot stand in the way of the 3rd wave feminist “truth” about rape. Even though 1 in 5 has been disavowed by the researchers, months ago, I just heard it on NPR repeated as fact recently. There’s far more, but even with falling rape numbers overall, and a woman being safer on campus than just about anywhere else in America: it’s an epidemic! Rapists lurking around every corner! Due process cannot be allowed!

    Pathetic.

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    Anders Reply:

    It is even sadder that there is SOME truth to the hype that we indeed should address, just in a more balanced, less one-sided way. Women outnumber men at universities, and women will only engage with men at the same or higher social and educational levels, so even reasonably attractive male students will find themselves in better positions than perhaps ever before. We teach men to grab what they can, and we teach women they have to pull the brakes – gender roles that have served us well for most of human history where mere survival was far from given, but that, in the safety of today’s society, are theoretically superfluous.

    I can easily imagine this leading to situations where women, slut-shaming themselves, agree to have sex as the competitive pressure is high, then feel taken advantage of relatively easily. I can also imagine men, having learned to grab all they can, feel driven both culturally and biologically to go through with the sexual act without earnestly making sure this is what she wants.

    And of course: as studies show, women feel no obligation whatsoever to ensure enthusiastic consent. Why should they? No one has even told them that’s an issue. Their job is to constrain access to sex; so if they want sex, the object of their desire should be grateful.

    So there IS an issue behind rape culture, but it is being lost in the polarisation and hyperbole of the discourse surrounding it. We should have a discussion about how amazingly little we understand the other gender, and understand what the other gender thinks about our own gender. Reading feminist men’s studies, for example, is like reading 19th century racial science linking skull sizes to intelligence – all ideology with a complete absence of nuanced reflection. Much of feminist rhetoric seems to come from a world where a harmonious relationship between the genders is a practical impossibility. Men, having learned the importance of pleasing women, react to these volleys of hatred either by ignoring it, not taking it seriously (female hypoagency), or joining in the chorus (an act of in-group hatred hard to imagine elsewhere).

    Just take some real, well known basics. Any econ undergrad will tell you about how well we understand that humans react to incentives – apply that to the unintended incentives the rape hysteria creates (everyone knows people with a pathological need for attention, but God forbid you float the idea that some of them, actually a tiny minority of them, abuse the system to get that attention with impunity). Or take the difference in in-group preference between the genders, a fact beyond dispute in psychology and sociology, but completely ignored not only in rhetoric, but in scholarship – we often assume, for example, that men hire other men because they are men (rather than because they believe, perhaps mistakenly, someone to be the better candidate). The anti-rape movement even, in all seriousness, proclaim, perhaps deliberately misunderstanding macho banter, that men, among themselves, encourage each other to rape, completely ignoring that even minor harm done to a woman is one of the most common motives for serious assault or even homicide.

    Just some basic. Just some awareness of how strong our gender roles still are. Just that would go a long way. And the 1 in 4 women reporting some kind of broadly defined sexual assault would be the first to thank us for it.

    [Reply]

    Michael Griffith Reply:

    The Left has always engaged in persecution. From Stalin’s Purges to Pol Pot’s Killing Fields. They use self-righteous declarations of superior intentions to justify their persecution and punishment of anyone deemed an enemy.

    [Reply]

    Anders Reply:

    You mean the extreme left, of course. Or the extreme right for that matter.

    I get that well-intentioned social engineering can go into overdrive. But what I do not get is that the weird combination of strongly enforced sexual puritanism, female hypoagency, and penalism are characteristics of the left. For me, they fall squarely in the realm of traditionalist, right wing politics.

    [Reply]

    Michael Griffith Reply:

    Once upon a time Puritanism was associated with the “Religious Right” and Liberals were people who were against persecution. Real Liberals still are, but today’s “Liberals” are really Progressives.

    And Progressives are Statists, and Statists are very authoritarian, much like the Church Elders of old.

    truthhurts3 Reply:

    Yes, this is all one big misunderstanding–colleges not understanding due process, burdens of proof, how to conduct a real investigation. But no, this is not a dream.

    [Reply]

  12. Andrew Vanbarner on September 25th, 2015 9:19 pm

    This blatant man hating bigotry and the coddling of women who are supposed to be grown ups, but act as if they’re emotionally disturbed children, is truly nauseating.

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    Anders Reply:

    Indeed. But we forget how ingrained this instinct is. After all, for most of the history of humanity, any tribe that failed, in a society plagued by disease, violence and hunger, failed to afford special protection to women would be doomed to survive. With an average age of maybe 35 and sky-high rates of child and maternal mortality, society had to make damn sure most women were able to spend most of their post-puberty years bearing and caring for offspring. Perhaps 4-5 per woman was necessary. On average. Before you die at age 35.

    This instinct, vital for most of the history of humanity, is so entrenched we cannot expect to get rid of it in a generation or two. It is the basis for our gender roles and “benevolent sexism”. It is behind the gut reaction of most people to any problem formulation that implies that men as a group enjoy victimhood status that pointing to it alone constitutes neglect of women, or even misogyny (an epithet effective only because hatred of the gender in control of procreation would be inimical to any functioning society).

    But we can make ourselves aware of this bias and its consequences. And we can confront cases of blatant injustice – ESPECIALLY if they spring from the pressure of a movement purporting to oppose exactly the same instinct that makes it so successful that leaders of democratic countries consider mere disagreement with it hate speech that should be outlawed (Yes, EU leaders are seriously discussing outlawing criticism of feminism, referring – this is the honest truth – inter alia to laws against questioning the Holocaust).

    That this movement falls into the broader political spectrum that, in the US, is termed “liberal”, adds to the irony.

    Truth is indeed stranger than fiction.

    Signed: A befuddled but still US-enamored observer from the other side of the Atlantic, with growing appreciation that, contrary to his teenage expectations amidst levels of homophobia that a mere 20 years later are incompatible with societal norms, a homosexual life is not such a bad one after all.

    [Reply]

    Fungus Among Us '18 Reply:

    Your science is impeccable, sir! I’d love to see some sources for your findings. You think all societal gender roles (i.e. men holding doors for women?) are embedded in our instincts? You could back up any statement with some made up “human nature” excuse — I mean, people owned slaves for centuries and centuries, right? It must be natural for humans to exert force over one another, which must justify slavery. Or maybe that’s just an IR major’s unfounded hypothesis?

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  13. no on September 25th, 2015 9:22 pm

    Middlebury is not doing a good job of educating you about the real world. Sexual assault (and underage drinking for that matter) are criminal matters, not something an organization gets to self-regulate.

    [Reply]

  14. neontaster on September 27th, 2015 12:48 am

    The only thing there should be zero tolerance for is miscarriages of justice such as the school’s preposterous decision to set aside SIT’s ruling. The fact that this was later reaffirmed by an ACTUAL legal proceeding seems to be irrelevant in your eyes. Somehow a pseudo-legal process in which an investigator is taught to believe the accuser (god forbid I use that term) as a starting point is worth more in your eyes than one where a person accused of a serious crime is actually given the right to defend himself. You call that justice? You should be ashamed of yourselves. You are acting as a mouthpiece for a process that can easily result in a 100% innocent man having his life ruined (as seems to have almost been the case here). All because you are terrified of having to face the possibility that someone who claims to have been sexually assaulted is being less than truthful.

    You are what’s wrong with academia. You are what’s wrong with America.

    [Reply]

  15. Charlie Hurd on September 27th, 2015 7:19 pm

    Editor: Please don’t bother me with facts, I’m participating in a witch hunt.

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  16. gregpiperCF on September 28th, 2015 4:47 pm

    “Guilty” is a word for the criminal system. You mean to say he was found “responsible” for assault. You’ll notice that colleges themselves never say “guilty” because that would presume they operate under a system comparable to the U.S. legal system. Low standards of evidence, no opportunity to confront one’s accuser, and lack of subpoena power are just a few ways the typical college adjudication system differs from the legal system. You can find out more from FIRE: https://www.thefire.org/polis-fallout-continues-despite-apology-for-saying-innocent-students-should-be-expelled/

    [Reply]

    Caroline Reply:

    Speaking of FIRE, Middlebury is making the national news–for having no concept of justice: https://www.thefire.org/middlebury-student-paper-condemns-judicial-scrutiny-of-colleges-disciplinary-processes/

    [Reply]

  17. jerryvandesic on October 5th, 2015 4:19 pm

    Change some words and you could mistake this for a 1965 editorial in an Alabama newspaper saying that “we do not want outside individuals” “affecting our ability to police our own community.”

    Local justice is often not.

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  18. matt10023 on October 6th, 2015 6:36 am

    So if a college administration decides to exclude black people from admission, would this editorial board argue against the intrusion of laws prohibiting that? History lesson now: This is exactly the community values in 1960s universities that were overturned by laws and the courts.

    I know, stated college policies, due process and rights are inconvenient when you take an ends justifies the means approach.

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  19. Frank411 on October 6th, 2015 8:16 am

    Zero Tolerance sums it up.

    Zero Tolerance for the rule of law.

    Zero Tolerance for civil rights and civil liberties.

    Zero Tolerance for the the concept that a person is presumed innocent until proven guilty.

    [Reply]

  20. supertramp on October 6th, 2015 11:00 am

    This editorial is obscene. WTF.

    [Reply]

  21. Joseph Colorado on October 6th, 2015 12:11 pm

    I would suggest the students take the time to do historical research on their own, but that would mean they would actually have to form their own ideas.

    If the students want to get a good idea of the type of community that is created by their desires they should begin reading on Germany under Hitler, Russia under Stalin, the U.S. during the McCarthy era and while the FBI was run by Hoover, etc.

    The editorial board would have fit very well with McCarthy and Joseph Goebbels line of reasoning and thought.

    [Reply]

  22. Fraga123 on October 6th, 2015 1:52 pm

    Feminists Object to Male RapeBeasts Having Basic Civil Rights

    [Reply]

  23. truthhurts3 on October 7th, 2015 7:13 pm

    The saddest thing is that this piece was written by supposedly educated adults. Perhaps Middlebury would have more credibility if its process actually provided “due process.”

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  24. Caroline on October 8th, 2015 5:54 pm

    Congratulations, editorial board! This “article” has come to the attention of an esteemed national organization! Unfortunately, it was for the purpose of pointing out all the things that are wrong with this rejection of basic fairness and due process. It’s a long list, but I recommend you read it: https://www.thefire.org/middlebury-student-paper-condemns-judicial-scrutiny-of-colleges-disciplinary-processes/

    -Caroline Snell

    [Reply]

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Zero Tolerance: Here or Anywhere