Getting up the courage to ask someone out on a date can already be nerve-racking, but now that college campuses have completely gone off the deep end, that fear will be intensified.
Today’s crazy comes from — unsurprisingly — the University of Missouri (Mizzou), best known for torpedoing its enrollment rates after campus protests led a professor to threaten a student journalist. An official at Mizzou indicated during a deposition that a male student who was physically larger than the female student he asked out may have violated the school’s Title IX policy because his physical size gave him “power over her.”
For years, we have been told that one must receive “affirmative consent” before anything of a dating or sexual nature takes place. Critics of such policies, such as this reporter, have often wondered what would happen if the mere ask is unwanted, does that also constitute sexual harassment or assault?
Now we appear to have our answer: Yes.
When a Mizzou official was questioned regarding a case where a black male Ph.D. candidate at the school asked out a white female fitness trainer, she bizarrely suggested that the fact that the male student was larger than the female student gave him “power over her” and violated school policy.
The Daily Wire previously reported on the case in July. The male student, whom The Daily Wire will refer to as John Doe, asked out the female fitness instructor, who will be identified as Jane Roe. She said she was busy but discussed with him possibly going out later that month. Two days later, she told him to “stop making romantic advances toward her,” according to John’s lawsuit against Mizzou. Despite not wanting to date him, Jane asked John to keep taking her to dance classes.
John did this, and later asked Jane to recommend some YouTube videos to help him improve his dancing. She suggested private lessons but told him she didn’t teach privately. She then, according to John’s lawsuit, avoided him for the next week.
On October 14, 2016, John wrote Jane a three-page letter “apologizing for being awkward around her, expressing sincere feelings for her, and asking [her] what if anything she wanted from Plaintiff,” his lawsuit said.
Cathy Scroggs, who was Mizzou’s Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs when the incident involving John and Jane occurred, was asked during a recent deposition if the accusation against John satisfied the school’s policy for sexual misconduct regarding one having “power or authority” over another. Scroggs responded, “I think he was perceived as having power over her.”
She was further questioned as to the “nature of [John’s] power over her.” The interviewer asked if it was just John’s “size” that contributed to that “power.”
Scroggs responded: “His physical size.”
The interviewer then said part of the conduct code “doesn’t require him to be a teacher.” And asked, “When it says person of authority, it doesn’t mean, like, a teacher or boss?”
Scroggs responded: “Well, I suppose it could; but in this case, no, I didn’t interpret it that way.”
So while most people would assume “power or authority” refers to a professor or other superior’s relationship with a student, Scroggs indicated that literally being larger than another person and asking them out could be an unfair sexual situation.
Later in the deposition, Andy Hayes, Mizzou’s Assistant Vice Chancellor for Civil Rights & Title IX, suggested that if someone were confused about whether they had “a legitimate purpose” for asking someone out on a date, they could call his office for clarification, but they might not get a definite answer. Here’s what he said in the original exchange:
Q. Is asking someone out on a date a course of conduct on the basis of sex? Let me just ask you that.
Q. So you could ask someone out on a date with a legitimate purpose and not fall within this rule; is that correct?
A. You could.
Q. Okay. What I’m trying to get at here is, a student reading this policy, how did they know what is a legitimate purpose within the meaning of the rule?
A. Well, I’m going to speculate. But if they wanted it clarified, they could call my office. They could ask someone about it if they needed clarification. I don’t know that many students read the rules before they take action.
So, students need to have a “legitimate purpose” for asking someone out on a date, and if they don’t know if they’re legitimately asking someone out, they can call the school’s Title IX office to find out.
But what happens when someone does call the office for clarification? Hayes was asked. The following exchange occurred:
Q. … If someone called the Title IX office and reached Megan Grant or someone else, another person in your office and asked what no legitimate purpose meant, would you assume that they would give the same answer as you?
A. I don’t know.
Q. Might they have a different definition?
A. I don’t know.
Q. It’s possible?
A. I don’t know.
Q. You don’t know if it’s possible?
A. Well, I don’t know what someone else would say. I don’t know how they would answer that question.
So, a student who seeks clarification about whether they have a “legitimate purpose” in asking someone out may get different answers from different people, any number of which could lead to him being found responsible for sexual misconduct, as John was.
John was suspended for his interactions with Jane and sued, feeling the punishment was far too severe for the situation.
Mizzou has attempted to dismiss the lawsuit, but much of John’s lawsuit was upheld.
Author’s note: It appears other outlets misrepresented this story, reporting John was found in violation simply for asking out a physically smaller woman. This is not true, nor is it what I reported. I reported that the comments from the Mizzou official were made during a deposition for a lawsuit brought by John. I then summarized the actions that led to his punishment and linked to a previous article with more information. Nowhere in that summary or the previous article do I mention physical size, because that’s not what led to his punishment. That does not change the fact that a Mizzou official, during a deposition, compared a man asking out a physically smaller woman to a professor asking out a student.