But in recent years it's become better known as a flashpoint in the campus sexual-assault crisis.
Sexual assault is a massive problem on college campuses, one that is increasingly drawing the scrutiny of the media and lawmakers, in part thanks to the tireless efforts of a new generation of campus activists determined to finally bring the issue to light.
An outside investigator hired by the college concluded that both John Doe and Jane Doe made statements indicating their consent the night they had sex.
Both John Doe and Jane Doe later said that they were the drunkest they had ever been that night. John Doe seems to be taking the only route he can to appeal his expulsion, Stanford law professor Michele Dauber told Business Insider.
John is one of a growing number of male students who are suing their colleges and universities after being found responsible of sexual assault and expelled or placed on involuntary leave from school. Because the interaction between John Doe and Jane Doe appears to have begun consensually, the case has been championed by men's-rights activists who see the accused student as a victim of a sexual-assault panic run amok.
In accordance with College procedure, complainants and respondents in Title IX cases have the opportunity to view relevant records through a secure 'view-only' website.
According to Occidental, John Doe's lawyer has refused to answer questions about how the files were obtained. These documents were the source of further controversy this summer when The Huffington Post reported that many of the witnesses whose statements were included were being harassed online. Via FlickrOccidental College's Mediterranean-inspired campus is located in Los Angeles' Eagle Rock neighborhood. While we have relied on the documents in reporting this story, we have taken every effort to ensure the identities of John Doe and Jane Doe remain confidential.
With laws and college policies being scrutinized, reexamined, and furiously rewritten to keep pace with a shifting social landscape, a detailed examination of the Occidental case raises important questions about an institution's authority, and its ability, to properly protect its student victims and punish abusers. A week later the female student, Jane Doe, filed a complaint with Occidental, saying she'd been the victim of a sexual assault. Jane told investigators she didn't remember having sex with John or understand why she appears to have voluntarily gone to his room that night with full knowledge at the time of what would likely happen. Among the key pieces of evidence that John and his legal team are relying on are two text messages that Jane had sent before going to John's room, one to him asking if he had a condom and another to a friend from her hometown saying "I'mgoingtohave sex now" (sic).
I would never have done that if I had been sober a€¦ I don't know what was going through my head. According to Kelly, Jane Doe's demeanor did not appear as if she knew what was going on, but her text messages and her physically going to John's room seem to indicate that Jane Doe had some idea of where she was, of what was taking place, and of what would happen if she went to John's room. An outside lawyer hired by Occidental to adjudicate the sexual-assault hearing found that John was impaired beyond the point where he could have understood Jane's condition but should nonetheless be held as responsible as if he had been sober. In other words, John Doe's severe level of intoxication cannot be considered a factor in the decision. The external adjudicator finds that a sober respondent would have known that the Complainant was incapacitated [emphasis added] at the time she engaged in comments or made statements that indicated consent. There is considerable evidence, examined in depth below, that would lead a reasonable person to conclude that Jane Doe's actions that night were affected by the amount of alcohol she had consumed. In the end, having found that "all elements of sexual assault under the College's Policy have been established," the adjudicator found John to have violated the school's sexual-misconduct policy and expelled him from Occidental.
More and more, a necessary conversation about sexual assault on college campuses is being pushed into the public consciousness, both by national forces such as the White House a€” which has pressed for reforms such as campus surveys since early 2014 a€” and by students who feel they have been mistreated and ignored by their colleges. According to studies cited by the White House, about one in five women will be sexually assaulted during college, an ugly number a€” often labeled an epidemic a€” that presumably all reasonable people agree needs to be remedied.
A recent legislative push spearheaded by Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill is attempting to ensure colleges are more diligent about investigating sexual-assault complaints while maintaining an open culture where students feel comfortable turning to their schools for help. BuzzFeed also detailed a large Title IX complaint filed against the school by a number of students and faculty members. Last September, Occidental reached a monetary settlement with at least 10 of the complainants, who were represented by prominent civil-rights lawyer Gloria Allred. A new bill passed in August by California lawmakers seeks to tighten how Occidental and other colleges in the state deal with sexual assaults on campus, proposing a controversial "affirmative consent" policy that would require students to actively give and receive consent before engaging in any sort of sexual activity.
According to John Doe's lawsuit, and those filed by other expelled college men across the country, his guilty verdict was in part motivated by Occidental's desire to make sure it took a strong action against accused rapists. John Doe and Jane Doe lived in the same freshman dorm at Occidental, a three-story residence hall with floors separated by gender. Although the two were neighbors, they didn't meet until the second week of school, during an off-campus field trip for a class they took together. It's worth noting that sexual assaults tend to peak at the start of an academic year, a period that has been dubbed the "Red Zone" by awareness advocates. In the room of her friend Brad a€” another freshman, who lived on the same floor as John a€” Jane began taking shots of lemon vodka she found in the dorm-room freezer, also mixing some of the alcohol into a small bottle of orange juice she was carrying. Eventually the students made their way to a fraternity party just off campus in a residential neighborhood.
Jane said it was while walking around the perimeter of campus that she first began to feel seriously intoxicated. Eventually, Jane was having so much difficulty walking that she needed a piggyback ride from one of her friends. By midnight, two of Jane's friends, Kelly and David, were worried enough about her state to stay behind while the rest of the students went up to Mt. Jane Doe told investigators that she did head back to her room but quickly became bored and left to find people downstairs. Meanwhile, as a freshman and new member of one of Occidental's athletic teams, John was participating in the annual "I-night," an initiation ceremony his attorney describes as "hazing" in the lawsuit against the college. There's less information available about how John spent the evening, in part because he did not participate in Occidental's investigation. One of John's new teammates told a mutual friend that the freshmen members had to drink a lot of beer and a "good amount" of vodka. According to this teammate, a group of four or five freshmen a€” including John a€” had to finish a half-gallon of vodka by themselves. John returned to his dorm just as his roommate, Shawn, was preparing to go out for the night. Shawn told investigators that at around midnight he went upstairs to let his friends know that he was staying in for the night.
According to Shawn's statement, he and John had been blasting music loud enough to hear in the hallway.
Jane began walking ahead, and by the time Shawn got to his room, John and Jane were "in an embrace," he told investigators, "hugging and, possibly, kissing." Shawn then decided to go out for the night, after all, leaving John and Jane alone in the room. At this point, Jane acknowledged, her memory has a "big hole," due to the amount of alcohol she had consumed. At the moment Jane ran into Shawn and met up with John, two of her friends a€” David and Kelly a€” were searching for her, having grown concerned about her condition. As new students on campus, they had all attended an orientation during which they were implored to watch out for one another at parties.
When Jane's two friends found her she was alone with John in a dimly lighted dorm room with loud techno music blaring.
At one point, Jane Doe took her shirt off, continuing to dance around in just a bra a€” by all accounts behavior that was highly out of character.
Among Jane and her two friends, all of whom were interviewed for Occidental's report, accounts differ as to how Jane and John interacted during this half hour in the dorm room. Jane told investigators that John interfered with her putting her shirt back on, grabbing the shirt away from Jane and grabbing Kelly's wrist when she went to help Jane. Eventually, David said, Jane and John lay down on his bed together, and the two were "getting really physical." Jane, David said, "was kind of riding on top of John.


Both friends agreed that John did in fact attempt to physically remove them from his room, though they didn't feel physically threatened. At this point, Jane entered into a text-message conversation with John a€” evidence, John's legal team says, that Jane was a willing participant in subsequent events.
According to John Doe's lawsuit, these texts also demonstrate Jane's awareness of her actions at the time.
Jane told investigators she then realized that David was still outside her door, speaking with her residence assistant, or RA. David told investigators that Jane Doe "had only been in her room for about 30 seconds before she opened the door," gave him a hug, and went down the hall alone toward the women's bathroom. According to Jane, she "walked down to the hall to the bathroom, but did not enter it." Instead, she headed downstairs, "feeling excited that she had succeeded in sneaking past the bathroom," the report says. However, Jane said, as she walked down the stairs to John's floor, she began to feel "really dizzy" and "really sick," holding on to the railing for support. For the second time that night, John Doe's roommate, Shawn, ran into Jane Doe on his floor. He held Jane's hair back as she vomited into a trash can in the hallway, then led her to the men's bathroom, where she vomited again. Having left Jane in the hallway, Shawn went to go meet up with friends, but soon realized he'd forgotten his wallet and returned to the dorm room.
Curtis, another student on their floor, after being told later in the night that Jane and John were extremely drunk and alone together, went to go check on them as well.
While in the library that Sunday, Jane received a Facebook message from Curtis, asking how she was doing. Several of Jane's friends also reported that she did not remember having had sex with John Doe.
Jane Doe stated that she was not going to report the incident as a rape, but she began to have more and more emotional difficulties. Jane Doe stated that during this period, she continued to try to remember the events of that night, stating, 'That [missing] hour still freaks me.' She said she would see people on campus who looked like John, and her 'heart would start racing,' and she would feel very frightened. Occidental sociology professor Danielle Dirks, whom Jane turned to in the week following the incident, told investigators she believed Jane was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, noting the freshman was having trouble sleeping. From the onset of their discussions, Jane's testimony indicates, Dirks appears to have concluded that Jane was raped a€” telling Jane that John fit the profile of a rapist and that, from her observations, there was a pattern of male Occidental students who take advantage of drunk female freshmen. Regarding my alleged statements on the 'profile of a rapist' at Occidental, the College's investigative report misrepresents my statements and contains factual errors regarding my involvement in the case. Jane said that Dirks' counsel was not the only reason she decided to file a complaint and speak to the police. A week after the incident, Jane Doe went to the Los Angeles Police Department to report the alleged rape.
Almost two months later, the LAPD finished its investigation, notifying Jane Doe that there was insufficient evidence for them to charge her alleged attacker with a crime.
The LAPD also raised an issue that would become a key part of Occidental's decision to expel John Doe: whether he was reasonably aware of Jane's condition. More problematic is the inability to prove the suspect knew or reasonably should have known that she was prevented from resisting if she was in that state. While the police were determining their course of action, Jane Doe also brought her complaint to Occidental's Title IX office, which hired a group of outside investigators to determine the events of the night, predominantly based on witness interviews.
Nonetheless, in the absence of an account of the actual sex act by either party, investigators had only the witness statements of third parties to work with to determine if Jane had been sexually assaulted.
Kelly, who told the investigators that she was with Jane for the majority of the night, said she didn't think it was that simple. She could have said, 'No,' or she could have just not responded to his texts, or just not gone back down to his room.
Additionally, the only person to actually witness John and Jane having sex a€” John's roommate, Shawn a€” told the investigators that based on his understanding of the school's sexual-assault policy, what he witnessed was not rape. At the core of this whole case is the arguably simple fact that John Doe was found to have broken Occidental's policy a€” which, as a private organization, has no obligation to set the same standards as any legal system, although it is required to maintain federal standards in processing sexual-assault allegations.
Per Occidental's policy, students are unable to consent if they are "incapacitated" a€” a state of being that, although often caused by alcohol, is distinct from drunk or intoxicated. After examining all of the evidence provided by Occidental's team of outside investigators, an external adjudicator made several key determinations.
One final question remained: Should John Doe have known that Jane Doe was incapacitated, and thus unable to effectively consent?
For example, one can look to the ongoing case of a former Cornell University wrestler, currently on trial in Ithaca, New York, for rape and sexual assault after he allegedly broke into a female student's off-campus house and raped her while she was asleep.
It's indisputable that being drunk should not excuse someone for forcing himself on an unaware victim. But it begins to pose a potential problem when both parties are intoxicated and consent is explicitly granted.
The ongoing issue of how to determine a student's consent and intoxication is not isolated to Occidental by any means.
As a similar lawsuit unfolds at Duke University, one administrator revealed what some critics see as a potential double standard in the school's sexual-assault policy, according to local newspaper Indy Week. During the trial two months ago, Duke's dean of students, Sue Wasiolek, was asked whether she would characterize a situation in which two students "got drunk to the point of incapacity, and then had sex" as their having raped each other. Statements like this have drawn the ire of men's-rights groups and right-wing blogs, which argue that in their zeal to address the issue of sexual assault, colleges are creating an unfair double standard that penalizes male students, who are almost always the accused parties. An ongoing legal dispute over a drunken sexual encounter between two freshmen, which occurred one year ago last week at the college, has become a battle over how to define the terms that govern campus sexual-assault policies. Perhaps the most visible result has been a proposed congressional bill cosponsored by a bipartisan group of eight senators, which would create an annual anonymous survey to measure the prevalence of sexual assaults on campus and increase penalties for schools that violate government guidelines. Typically, the victims a€” who may be intoxicated, under the influence of a "date-rape drug," or both a€” are made to have sex against their will.
The case was filed by a former student, referred to in court documents as John Doe, who claims he was wrongly expelled his freshman year.
What is in question is the nature of Jane Doe's consent: whether the woman a€” who was intoxicated to the point of blacking out a€” had the ability, according to Occidental's policy, to legitimately agree to have sex at all.
These former students claim that they have been discriminated against by college policies that appear to favor the predominately female victims. And they provide a valuable window into what happened at Occidental in the early-morning hours of Sept. 8, 2013, after a long night of drinking that left the students more drunk than either had ever been, two Occidental College freshmen, one male and one female, had sex. Just over three months later, and following an intensive official college investigation, the male freshman, John Doe, was notified he had been found responsible of sexual assault and non-consensual sex and was expelled from Occidental. The question is whether she was too impaired that night to make and understand her own decisions.
Although John Doe's judgement was determined to have been impaired, the policy required him to evaluate Jane Doe's ability to consent with the same judgment he would have employed had he been sober. Accordingly, the external adjudicator finds that the Respondent should have known that the Complainant was incapacitated. Therefore, the external adjudicator concludes, based on Occidental's policy it was reasonable to expect John Doe to realize that Jane was too drunk to consent. This follows a 2011 "Dear Colleague" letter from the Department of Education that explicitly stated that Title IX, which prohibits discrimination based on sex, also covers sexual violence a€” making colleges responsible for ending sexual assault on their campuses. The school is one of more than 70 colleges under investigation by the Department of Education for potential Title IX violations. The complaint, which has been updated with the accounts of more alleged victims since it was filed last year, said Occidental did not do enough to punish students found responsible of sexual assault, or to protect students who wanted to report what happened to them.


Critics of college sexual-assault policies often describe this perceived overcompensation as the "pendulum" swinging the wrong way a€” against men. John lived on the second floor, a male hall, and Jane lived on the floor above, a female hall.
They saw each other again at a dance party "pregame" in John's dorm room that Friday, where a large group of students were drinking before Occidental's annual Septemberween party, a costume dance party for freshmen that's one of the first big social events of the year.
According to multiple studies, female students are at an increased risk for sexual assault during the first few weeks of their first semester on campus.
7, after attending an Occidental men's soccer game, Jane and some friends made their way back to their dorm to "pregame" for the night. The students played an iPhone game that made participants guess a word displayed on their forehead.
Her friends noticed too, Jane said, and began to comment that she was being a little loud and couldn't walk straight. Shawn agreed that John was clearly intoxicated a€” stumbling around, slurring his words, and talking loudly.
Shawn told investigators that Jane Doe started walking back to his room with him, asking if there was a "kickback" there a€” a party.
With no statement from John, we have to rely more heavily on their friends' witness statements. Kelly had called Jane three times and eventually Jane picked up, telling her friends she was in John's room. John and Jane were dancing, and it was immediately clear to the other freshmen that both were extremely drunk. Jane also said that John pushed her on to his bed, where they made out for a while, and told her to get rid of her two friends. Her hips were moving a€¦ It looked like something was going down." At this point, both David and Kelly realized it was time to get Jane back to her dorm room. When the two friends finally managed to do so, David told investigators, Jane was upset and resisted a little bit, but "at the same time, she was aware that we were doing the right thing" by taking her back to her room.
According to David, Jane was "super drunk" at this point and "talking but making no sense." Her friends put Jane in bed, draped a blanket over her, and closed the door. In a series of texts with John, he laid out a plan for her to evade them, telling her to "Leave. David let the floor's RA know Jane was in the bathroom and then returned to his own dorm, comfortable, he said, that the RA was looking out for her. The only confirmation that John and Jane had sex, besides the text messages leading up to their meeting, comes from two people who walked into the dorm room while John and Jane were together. Jane told investigators this struck her has odd because she didn't remember seeing him the night before.
She stated she had difficulty concentrating, and would often 'zone out' for five or ten minutes at a time. Had I seen these documents prior to them being posted online, I would have sought correction at the time.
Rather it was a dawning realization of how much the incident had affected her emotionally, and the sense that John remained unconcerned. In the precinct house, she later recalled, she began crying after being told a€” incorrectly a€” by a detective that because John did not force her into his room, it was not rape.
It would be reasonable for him to conclude based on their communications and her actions that, even though she was intoxicated, she could still exercise reasonable judgement. According to Anne, Jane Doe had sex that she did not remember and was intoxicated to the point of having impaired speech and not being able to control her motor skills.
Those factors, however, must be considered not in isolation but along with all of the other evidence regarding the Complainant's condition during the relevant period. Citing Occidental's policy stating that "Being intoxicated or impaired by drugs or alcohol is never an excuse for sexual harassment, sexual violence, stalking or intimate partner violence and does not diminish one's responsibility to obtain consent," the adjudicator determined that John Doe had committed sexual assault, despite not having knowledge of Jane Doe's state at the time. Students are likely well served by schools' sexual-assault policies that include explicit language to this effect. Even if the students indicate their consent at the time, as Occidental determined Jane and John both did, they are both deemed incapable of determining the other's ability to consent, yet remain responsible for doing so. Colleges across the country are working through their sexual-assault policies, to better protect their students and keep their rules in line with Title IX and other federal standards. Also in question is whether John Doe, also extremely drunk, violated the school's policy by failing to recognize the woman's consent was essentially meaningless as it was given while she was incapacitated. But in suing the school for discrimination, John Doe's legal team made public about 200 pages of witness statements, internal reports, and decision-rendering documents from seemingly every step of the investigation. The investigative report was one such record in this case, and the College believes that it was removed from the 'view-only' website in violation of College policy. The documents are hosted online by a civil-liberties advocacy group called the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), which has also refused to remove them from its website.
An in-depth BuzzFeed feature on the college's "sexual assault civil war" documented a campus in crisis. At one point early on in their outing, Jane slipped trying to navigate a set of steps, cutting her knee, an injury she said she didn't notice until later in the night. While accounts differ slightly, taken together, they offer what appears to be a reasonably full understanding of the sequence of events. From her text messages the night before, Jane said, she thought something may have happened with her and John, but she wasn't sure. She said she would periodically flash back to the knocking at John's door, as well as other 'random bits and pieces' from her memories of that night. She stated, since the incident with John, navigating around corners with right angles, 'scare[d] the hell out of me [because] I don't know what is around the corner.' She said she went for a week and a half without talking to her parents, which was unusual for her. When I asked the College to correct false statements made by their representatives about me, they declined to do so, citing that they were unclear on the 'wisdom and the legality' of publicly commenting on ongoing litigation.
However, a week later the LAPD came to campus to let Jane Doe know they had decided to open an investigation into the alleged assault. 14, about two months after Jane's original complaint a€” is seemingly unchallenged by any party in this case, and appears to be a thorough investigation into the facts of what happened between John Doe and Jane Doe.
Anne said, 'The girl I helped that night was not my roommate in any sense.' Anne also noted the emotional toll that Jane Doe experienced following the events with John. She could have said, 'No,' or she could have just not responded to his texts, or just not gone back down to his room," Kelly said in her witness statement.
The material offers a rare look into the efforts of a private institution to craft and enforce a sexual-assault policy not tied to any legal system. Although Occidental subsequently petitioned the court to have the materials sealed, a judge declined to do so, stating that the college waited too long to make its request. More important, they shed much-needed light on how colleges are struggling to navigate the complex issues around sexual assault at a time when the issue is as politically charged and legally fraught as it has ever been.
The administration reportedly retaliated against professors who had supported students' sexual-assault claims by breaking into their offices and, in one case, terminating a staff member. She told them she was going upstairs to get something from her room and didn't return for a worrisome amount of time.
I shared my grave concerns with Occidental's president that the publication of these documents will discourage other Occidental students from reporting sexual violence and witnesses from serving in these cases. She noted that she tried to go to yoga, something which she was usually able to focus on, but found she could not concentrate.



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