More Orwellian Justice at Yale–This Time Against a Professor

Believe it or not, there is at
least one person on the Yale campus who has received less due process than
Patrick Witt, the former college quarterback and Rhodes scholarship applicant
whose reputation has been effectively destroyed by Yale and the New York Times.

That information came last
Tuesday in an e-mail from Yale president Richard Levin celebrating the
“comprehensive, semi-annual report of complaints of sexual misconduct and
related remedial actions” produced by Deputy Provost Stephanie Spangler.  As
already noted
, the Spangler Report explained the Orwellian procedures under
which Patrick Witt was investigated or, rather, not investigated.
 Most of the report described the undergraduate students who, like Witt,
had been subjected to the “informal complaint” procedure, in which limited or
no investigation occurs and in which the accuser retains all but total control
of the process.

One of the Spangler cases,
however, involved a complaint by a female professor against a male colleague.  Here is the report’s description of the
procedure that Yale employed: “A faculty member sought resolution of an
informal complaint alleging that a male faculty member had sexually harassed
her.  The complainant requested
confidentiality. The Chair of the UWC [University-Wide
Committee on Sexual Misconduct
] met with the complainant and her department
chair and they identified measures to support and protect the complainant and
monitor the respondent.”

According to Spangler, then,
after a complaint was lodged against a Yale professor, a meeting to discuss the
matter occurred between university administrators, the accusing professor, and
both professors’ department chair.  But
the accused professor was never informed of the existence of the complaint,
much less given a chance to defend himself. 
As a result, somewhere on the Yale campus today, a department chair and
members of the administration have set up “measures” to “monitor” an unknowing
member of the Yale faculty.  Big Brother
comes to New Haven.

In his Wall
Street Journal article
, Peter
Berkowitz commented on a central irony of cases like Witt’s–that academics, who
by tradition have strongly defended due process, too often have remained silent
to the erosion of civil liberties on today’s campuses.  As Berkowitz observed, “It is outrageous but not surprising that little protest
has been heard from faculty around the country.  Some have succumbed to the poorly documented
contention that campuses are home to a plague of sexual assault.  Some are spellbound by the extravagant claim
championed more than two decades ago by University of Michigan law professor
Catharine MacKinnon that America is a ‘male supremacist society’ in which women
are rarely capable of giving meaningful consent to sex.”

There’s little indication that
Yale faculty members are troubled at what happened to Witt–who, after all,
lacks a profile that would be appealing to most in today’s
race/class/gender-dominated professoriate.  But as the Spangler Report makes clear, the
university’s unusual conception of due process can just as easily be targeted
against the professors themselves.  Indeed,
President Levin has all but promised as much: “The new procedures and services
we have put in place are necessary, but they are not sufficient.”

Perhaps a recognition that they
could be the next Patrick Witt will cause some Yale professors to start
worrying about the erosion of due process rights on the New Haven campus.

KC Johnson is a Professor of History at Brooklyn College and the CUNY Graduate Center, and author of the blog Durham-in-Wonderland. He is co-author, with Stuart Taylor Jr., of “Until Proven Innocent.


  • KC Johnson

    KC Johnson is a history professor at Brooklyn College and the City University of New York Graduate Center. He is the author, along with Stuart Taylor, of The Campus Rape Frenzy: The Attack on Due Process at America's Universities.

17 thoughts on “More Orwellian Justice at Yale–This Time Against a Professor

  1. Quoth the above: “As a result, somewhere on the Yale campus today, a department chair and members of the administration have set up “measures” to ‘monitor’ an unknowing member of the Yale faculty. Big Brother comes to New Haven.”
    Is this a real-life example of “double-secret probation?”
    I knew today’s Left was apparently using ‘Atlas Shrugged’ and ‘1984’ as how-to manuals instead of cautionary tales. But, seriously, now ‘Animal House’ too?!

  2. On the bright side, this use of double-secret probation (is Yale’s new motto “knowledge is good”?) prevents the administration from claiming the target prof is a recidivist if any future complaints arise. Usually employers like to build a record of warnings and admonishments before they discipline or terminate an employee. The star chamber approach precludes that strategy.

  3. Academic leftists have always supported due process, for leftists. The myth is that they ever supported due process for anybody else.

  4. Sounds like a hostile working environment to me.
    Or maybe just a bastion of liberalism where the liberals now have to live in the nest that they have fouled.
    In any event, the CHEKA is alive and well and living in New Haven.

  5. I’m sure this will come as no stunning revelation to Mr. Johnson, but actual guilt or innocence has little to do with any of these cases. What matters most is that the “correct” result is obtained, correct being defined as in accordance with the prevailing narrative being peddled by the campus’s left-wing commissars. Tokens representing certain “guilty” groups are sacrificed in service to this ideology, and other “victim” groups identified by the grandees of the ideology are used as justification for the purges, show trials and inevitable autos-de-fe.
    Stalin might be dead, but Stalinists live on in faculty lounges the nation over.

  6. Cowards all! Afraid of women, afraid of men, afraid of lawyers, afraid of liberal faculty, afraid of the accuser. I can scarcely think of a more dysfunctional, pitiful environment outside Washington, DC. Even in Detroit people aren’t such sissies.

  7. Apropos of the adage that a conservative is someone who’s just been mugged, and not that I want anyone unfairly run through the ringer, but perhaps having that happen to some professors and administrators might be quite the teaching moment.

  8. ‘As a result, somewhere on the Yale campus today, a department chair and members of the administration have set up “measures” to “monitor” an unknowing member of the Yale faculty.’
    30 years ago, this was joke called “Double Secret Probation”.
    The worst part of this is the existence, and apparent acceptance, of something called an “informal” complaint.

  9. But you are a Democrat and have previously announced you are going to vote for Obama no matter what. As a leftist, why do you whine when leftists do what they do naturally?

  10. There is nothing ironic about the fact that “academics, who by tradition have strongly defended due process, too often have remained silent to the erosion of civil liberties on today’s campuses.”
    Professor Johnson, I read your blog regularly as the Duke travesty unfolded and I appreciated your willingness to criticize academia in that context. However, there is nothing accurate or honest about misstating the natural or default position of liberal academics regarding “justice” or due process rights. The left side of the political spectrum uses high falutin words like “social justice” to justify their group’s desire to dominate other groups. They feign concern for due process rights while regularly trampling over those rights as applied to disfavored groups. Academics don’t champion objective fairness or due process rights. Like other leftists, they use those those principles to protect their own from scrutiny and they abandon them when given an opportunity to act out their desires to attack members of groups they oppose. There is nothing out of the ordinary about what goes on at Yale. It goes on all over academia. Orwell wrote his novels based on what he experienced with communists in pre-WWII Europe. Liberal academics’ support for due process is an andjunct of Orwell’s “newspeak” where due process is for me but not for thee. And yes, while the accused in the Yale case involves a member of the faculty, it is a male accused by a female and, even within liberalism, the toxic culture of political correctness can victimize liberals. Women and their victimhood are higher on the list than white men, or even men of color. This kind of injustice needs to be called out, just like you did with the Duke case, and it doesn’t help to pretend that these academics hold values that everyone knows they don’t.

  11. Uh, odd use of the term “respondent”. Doesn’t that imply someone who has been given a chance to, you know, actually RESPOND?

  12. Ohhh boy. Just think of all the things that have justified because they were…necessary. The mind boggles.

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