Irrational ‘Rape Culture’ Activism at Occidental and BuzzFeed

BuzzFeed is uncritically fascinated with “rape culture.”
Combine that with Occidental, a college where a male student can be branded
a rapist even if his partner says “yes,” and the result is an article
by Jessica Testa
. Her BuzzFeed article, which reads as if it comes from the
Onion, provides an unintentional
commentary into how far from reality many campus “activists” now are.

A quick refresher: despite campus policies that are overwhelmingly
tilted against students accused of sexual assault, campus “activists” (students
and faculty) filed a Title IX claim against the college–with the help of
celebrity attorney Gloria Allred. Fawning press coverage followed, with
reporters repeatedly ignoring Occidental’s actual procedures and describing the
accusers (none of whom had even filed police reports) as “victims” or
“survivors.” The charade appeared to have
ended on March 14
, when the Los
Angeles Times
announced that one of its reporters on the case,  Jason Felch, had been involved in an
unrevealed romantic relationship with one of the faculty complainers, and had
described minor incidents (such as inappropriate text messages) as unreported
sexual assaults The Times then fired Felch.

But anyone who thought the case had concluded doesn’t
follow higher education, where “activists” rarely, if ever, concede defeat. The
result was a lengthy article by Testa, in which the BuzzFeed reporter
uncritically passed along paranoid, borderline delusional, assertions by Occidental
faculty members involved in the Title IX fight.

Consider these items in Testa’s article:

  • Felch’s former paramour (who receives
    anonymity, because she seems to believe that someone is out to get her) claimed
    that her faculty “
    was broken into” and that “pages from her journal that referenced her
    relationship with Felch were laid out on her desk.” Her alleged stalker, the
    paramour asserted, obtained the journal by breaking into yet another place on
    campus, “a private locked library carrel” that she had revealed only to “four
    trusted colleagues.” Why she had her private journal at the library, and why
    she didn’t report either alleged break-in to local police, remains unclear.
  • Another
    Occidental professor, Caroline Heldman, likewise claimed that her office was
    broken into–though she, too, doesn’t appear to have reported the incidents to
    police. Heldman also included a tagline on her e-mail asserting that “Occidental
    College administrators are tracking this email.” The Testa article produced no
    evidence to corroborate this claim, which college administrators denied.
  • Heldman
    appears sane, however, compared to the unnamed paramour–who confided that she now
    only uses a new phone, which she paid for in cash, because she feared someone
    might be listening in to her conversations. Why? Her “personal iPhone had been
    acting strangely: flashing every few minutes while she wrote text messages or
    emails, as if the phone were taking screenshots, and running the battery down
    seven or eight times a day.” Rather than consider that the phone simply was
    malfunctioning, the paramour appears to believe that someone, Jason Bourne
    style, was accessing her personal information. The anonymous professor conceded
    that she had no actual evidence that the college was monitoring her, but “whether
    or not you’re actually being surveilled, if you think you are, it’s still
    destructive.” Well, yes, but it’s rather frightening to see that a college
    faculty member simply assumes that Big Brother is surveilling her. Does she
    believe the Occidental administration has teamed up with the NSA?
  • The anonymous professor recalled that she
    served as a “faculty advocate” to a student who charged, without
    reporting the incident to police, that a tennis player had raped her. The
    paramour claimed that “for weeks” a tennis ball was placed and then
    removed from her campus mailbox. Why the professor  just didn’t
    remove the tennis ball herself– and how the alleged stalker could have done
    something like this for weeks while evading detection in a busy campus
    mailroom–Testa elects not to explore.

These people
are teaching students–and, of course, advising the student “activists” who
filed the Title IX complaint. No wonder the complaint seemed divorced from

Testa never comes out and asserts that Occidental administrators are
responsible for any or all of these alleged incidents. But the article is
framed in such a way to leave this as the obvious impression.

It’s possible, I suppose, that a college administration
is essentially a criminal conspiracy. Or it’s possible that several Occidental
faculty members are paranoid.

Readers can decide.


  • 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.

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9 thoughts on “Irrational ‘Rape Culture’ Activism at Occidental and BuzzFeed

  1. “romantic relationship with…”
    “inappropriate text messages”
    Was the FACULTY complainer over 18? One would think a member of the faculty would be a legal adult able to enter into a romantic relationship.
    If it’s a romantic relationship, the text messages should be appropriate, unless they were threatening. Was there a police report filed over the texts?
    All I can figure is that she’s claiming to be mentally unfit to be considered an adult, so it must have been some form of statutory.

  2. Looks like they figured out you can get in trouble for filing a false police report, so now thay don’t bother. No downside risk for a false harrassment complaint on campus, lots of sympathy and congrats and high-fives all around.

  3. I attended Pomona College, and so am very aware that most of the men who attend Occidental are (like Pomona men) reliable leftists. How is it that men of the left could have created a ‘rape culture?’

  4. >>It’s possible, I suppose, that a college administration is essentially a criminal >>conspiracy. Or it’s possible that several Occidental faculty members are paranoid.
    Why not both? Considering the administrative costs of most colleges these days and comparing them with the value supplied, it’s easy to imagine that they might be a criminal conspiracy. But on the subject of this article unless they are a very atypical college administration they are more likely to be conspiring with the paranoid faculty members than against them.

  5. Why any sane parent would fork over tens of thousands of dollars every year to fund this Kafkaesque madhouse is beyond me.

  6. TO: All
    RE: Just Wait…..
    ….until the girls at Occidental hear about what happened in Nampa, Idaho, the other day.
    Seems that all it takes to have a SWAT team break into a apartment and drag a young man out in cuffs is just to have a woman tell the police that he threatened her.
    Talk about false ‘rape’ allegations…..

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