And why, given the fact that his reputation has been widely (and rightly) called into question by his shoddy reporting on Patrick Witt, is the New York Times continuing to allow him to write about the university?
Perez-Pena yesterday wrote up a short piece on Yale’s release of a report describing the handling of sexual misconduct complaints in 2011.
The report, released Tuesday evening and covering the period from July 1 to the end of 2011, lists 52 allegations of misconduct by students or employees, ranging from harassing remarks to rape.
…Of the 52 complaints, 14 involved sexual assault, which the report defines as “unwanted sexual contact, unwanted touching, nonconsensual sex/rape.” Three explicitly state that the charge was “nonconsensual sex.”
None of those 14 complainants who charged sexual assault went to the police.
So this is interesting, and it’s something that Perez-Pena needs to deal with. In his earlier articles about Patrick Witt, he used the term “sexual assault” to characterize the charge allegedly made against Witt by the girl he had apparently been hooking up with. (Witt’s spokesperson characterized their relationship as “on-again, off-again”; I’m paraphrasing.) Was he using the term as Yale is using it?
Perez-Pena implied that Witt was accused of rape—but that seems unlikely, given that the resolution of the informal complaint was basically for the two people to steer clear of each other. Let’s hope no one ever suggests that as a solution for rape.
So we’re left with the fact that Witt—if Perez-Pena was using his terminology correctly—was probably charged with “unwanted sexual contact” and/or “unwanted touching.” What does that mean? Perez-Pena, who doesn’t know the name of the accuser or the nature of the accusations, certainly doesn’t know.
Oh, and here’s one other thing. It’s subtle, but I think it’s telling [emphasis added].
The new transparency is part of an overhaul of Yale’s system for dealing with such complaints, adopted last year in the face of criticism of the way it had dealt with some cases, particularly those involving members and pledges of the Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity. …Yale imposed a five-year suspension from the use of campus facilities on the fraternity, which had been involved in highly publicized instances of harassment.
It’s a throw-away line for Pena, that last clause following the word “fraternity.” But was DKE really guilty of harassment? [Generally a legal term when used in a sexual context.) Or just obnoxious and asinine behavior?
I don’t know—and for the record, I’m not a big fan of fraternities at Yale—but that is very much an open question, and DKE’s civil libertarian defenders criticized Yale on the grounds that it was punishing the fraternity for nothing more than the exercise, however boorish its form, of free speech. (There’s a vigorous debate about it here.)
For Perez-Pena to simply characterize DKE’s foolishness as “harassment” is sloppy writing about a sensitive issue. I am coming to expect that from him.