The National Increase in Reported Campus Sexual Assaults

The latest federal study on crime and safety in schools (at all levels), Indicators of School Crime and Safety: 2016, is now available from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), “the primary federal entity for collecting, analyzing, and reporting data related to education in the United States and other nations.” A portion of the report concerns sexual assaults on campus (beginning on page 121), and in tables after the narrative. I’ve embedded the full document, below.

The report (pg. 122) makes plain the large national increase in reported campus sexual assaults:

The number of reported forcible sex crimes on campus increased from 2,200 in 2001 to 6,700 in 2014 (a 205 percent increase).

Focusing on more recent data years, the number of reported forcible sex crimes increased by 34 percent between 2013 and 2014 (from 5,000 to 6,700). It should be noted that data on reported forcible sex offenses were collected differently in 2014 than in prior years. In 2014, schools were asked to report the numbers of two different types of forcible sex offenses, rape and fondling, and these were added together to reach the total number of reported forcible sex offenses. In years prior to 2014, schools only reported a total number of reported forcible sex offenses, with no breakouts for specific types of offenses. About 4,400 rapes and 2,300 fondling incidents were reported in 2014.

(Writing about the reported increase in the Daily Beast, Lizzie Crocker (who has reported previously on campus sexual assault) considers a few points: (1) numbers may be higher now because campus assaults are more frequently reported, (2) the federal data do not, necessarily, “confirm the campus rape epidemic narrative perpetuated by high profile cases like that of convicted rapist Brock Turner and Alec Cook, who was recently expelled from the University of Wisconsin after being charged with sexually assaulting multiple women,” but (3) “[b]ecause sexual assault is one of the most underreported crimes, some advocates say that these figures likely underestimate the prevalence of sexual assault on campus.” Crocker’s article also mentions recent, relevant studies on the matter and the claims derived from them.)

Download (PDF, 4.47MB)

Answer of Telfer and Edmonds to Former Coach Fader’s Federal Lawsuit

local

In August, Timothy Fader, the former wrestling coach at UW-Whitewater, filed a federal lawsuit against former chancellor Richard Telfer and then-Athletic Director Amy Edmonds (she has since been demoted), alleging defamation & constructive termination stemming from a dismissal because Fader reported an alleged sexual assault committed by a recruit directly to Whitewater police rather than a campus supervisor.  See, Former Coach Fader Files Federal Lawsuit Against UW-Whitewater Officials.

Although the complaint names Telfer and Edmonds in an individual capacity, both are receiving a defense in this civil matter with state resources (and so at taxpayers’ expense).

Whitewater is a city with a median household income of $30,218, where 36.7% of all residents, 15.2% of all families, and 18.6% of all children live below the poverty level.  Telfer’s last publicly-paid salary before retirement was a reported $212,600.

I’ve promised to follow the case, and immediately below is a copy Telfer and Edmonds’s answer and Fader’s complaint.

Answer:

Download (PDF, 110KB)

Complaint:

Download (PDF, 6.78MB)

Marnocha’s Return

I posted last week that Randy Marnocha, formerly a UW-Whitewater administrator, is back as interim athletic director following the demotion of Amy Edmonds. See, from this website on 10.14.16, UW-Whitewater’s Interim Athletic Director.

The issue on campus is not simply whether this or that person will hold office, but whether the school will produce an administration that values the individual rights of students, coaches, and faculty more than it values the self-promotion of leading administrators.

Marnocha’s a choice best viewed cautiously. The university’s press release includes these remarks on his experience:

….Randy Marnocha is a familiar member of the Warhawk family. He served our campus for 27 years in various capacities, including 2006 until 2010 as Vice Chancellor for Administrative Affairs. He then took a position with the University of Wisconsin-Madison Athletic Department as associate director for business operations,” Chancellor Kopper said. “Randy has experience at one of the nation’s premier athletic departments, and I am pleased that he will bring his skill-base and knowledge to Warhawk Athletics….”

How Marnocha will do in his new & interim role I’ve no idea. Some of his past work in this city was spotty. It was Marnocha, along with then-City Manager Brunner, who wanted to form a joint university-municipal court (to keep more of the court fees with local, rather than county, authorities). See, from June 22, 2008, Joint court could be just the ticket @ GazetteXtra.

At the time, I let that discussion play out for months without much comment until September of that year, because there was no chance that a joint court of that kind was permissible under Wisconsin law. The oddity was that for months officials in the city and university went on with a city-university court proposal apparently without reading (or understanding) fundamental points of state law (that prohibited local creation of a hybrid court of the kind being proposed).

Finally, I wrote about the idea, after these proponents discovered, or were told, that their proposal was legally impermissible. See, from this website on September 4, 2008, Whitewater Common Council Meeting for 9/2: The Joint Court Proposal.

Marnocha was also a proponent of Whitewater’s Innovation Center. See, A City-University Technology Park in Whitewater.   Now that he’s back, perhaps he’ll use his formidable ‘skill-base’ to list the cost of the Innovation Center as against the number of actual, full-time jobs created (excluding jobs already existing at CESA 2, work-study jobs, internships, and university faculty already employed at public expense but affiliated with the Innovation Center).

Someone with “experience at one of the nation’s premier athletic departments” should be able to use a calculator, abacus, chalkboard, or pencil & paper to calculate the result in only minutes.

The failings here have been of addressing sexual assaults, over many years, and they’ve been severe.  Changing a person here or there is not enough.

I’ve written about local, official misconduct concerning sexual assault complaints for years; recent, national  political news is not the basis for my concern.  The conduct of self-aggrandizing and self-protective administrators in ignoring injury to some (thereby inflicting more injury through the denial of justice), and in causing reputational and related economic injury to others, is the basis for this concern.

It will take more than the shuffling of two chairs to overcome years of administrative misconduct.

UW-Whitewater’s Interim Athletic Director

UW-Whitewater has hired an interim athletic director to replace Amy Edmonds, who was recently demoted:

Effective Oct. 17, Randy Marnocha will begin serving as Interim Director of Intercollegiate Athletics, Chancellor Beverly Kopper announced today. Amy Edmonds will return to her previous position as associate athletic director, and will assist with the transition.

“Randy Marnocha is a familiar member of the Warhawk family. He served our campus for 27 years in various capacities, including 2006 until 2010 as Vice Chancellor for Administrative Affairs. He then took a position with the University of Wisconsin-Madison Athletic Department as associate director for business operations,” Chancellor Kopper said. “Randy has experience at one of the nation’s premier athletic departments, and I am pleased that he will bring his skill-base and knowledge to Warhawk Athletics.”

A national search for a new Director of Intercollegiate Athletics will begin in the spring.

See, Interim Athletic Director named @ https://announcements.uww.edu/Details/12892.

One may have read local stories about Edmonds’s demotion, in which UW-Whitewater’s Media Relations Director Sara Kuhl has denied that the athletic leadership change had anything to do with a recent lawsuit against Edmonds and former Chancellor Telfer.

It’s an unverfiable denial, of course, and in any event reporters who are asking Kuhl if the demotion is a result of former coach Timothy Fader’s lawsuit only show how little they understand about the history of UW-Whitewater’s administrative handling of sexual assault complaints.

Coach Fader’s effective dismissal and subsequent lawsuit wasn’t a cause, but instead an effect, of a pattern of mishandling, ignoring, and obstructing assault complaints. See, as a category at this website, Assault Awareness & Prevention.

Asking a question about a single lawsuit isn’t adequate follow-up to a wider problem: it’s evidence of ignorance, laziness, or servility.

 

UW-Whitewater’s Amy Edmonds Out as Athletic Director

UW-Whitewater’s current Athletic Director, Amy Edmonds, is reportedly out as head of UW-Whitewater’s athletic programs.  The report notes that she’s being demoted to associate athletic director (at a significant cut in salary).

There’s no certainty that she would, in fact, remain in a subordinate role following the apppointment of an interim director, let alone a permanent one.

See, http://royalpurplenews.com/19898/news/athletic-director-to-be-replaced/.

Edmonds was appointed interim director, and later permanent athletic director, during then-Chancellor Richard Telfer’s tenure. Edmonds and Telfer are now co-defendants in a federal defamation lawsuit from former wrestling Coach Timothy Fader. See, Former Coach Fader Files Federal Lawsuit Against UW-Whitewater Officials.

For more about Edmonds from FREE WHITEWATER, see, Coach Timothy Fader, Vindicated, Former Coach Fader Vindicated Five Times Over, Chancellor Telfer & UW-Whitewater Officials: Why Wait 147 Days?, and Questions on Assault Reporting, Formality, and Former UW-Whitewater Wrestling Coach Fader.

Wagon-Circling Versus Persistence 

I’ve posted before about the unraveling of medical-diagnostics startup Theranos, and founder Elizabeth Holmes, now revealed as a multi-billion-dollar fraud. See, previously, Theranos as a Cautionary Tale.

The story has useful lessons even for small-town Whitewater. I’ll illustrate one of those lessons today.

There’s a thorough update of Theranos’s dodgy claims now online at Vanity Fair. See, Exclusive: How Elizabeth Holmes’s House of Cards Came Tumbling Down.

The Vanity Fair update describes the work of Wall Street Journal reporter John Carreyrou.

Carreyrou had doubts about Theranos:

Carreyrou came away from [another publication’s] story surprised by Theranos’s secrecy—such behavior was to be expected at a tech company but not a medical operation. Moreover, he was also struck by Holmes’s limited ability to explain how it all worked. When The New Yorker reporter asked about Theranos’s technology, she responded, somewhat cryptically, “a chemistry is performed so that a chemical reaction occurs and generates a signal from the chemical interaction with the sample, which is translated into a result, which is then reviewed by certified laboratory personnel.”

After Carreyrou began to write about Theranos, the startup’s employees predictably – but childishly – circled the wagons:

…the leaders of Theranos stood before their employees and surveyed the room. Then a chant erupted. “Fuck you . . .,” employees began yelling in unison, “Carreyrou.” It began to grow louder still. “Fuck you, Carreyrou!” Soon men and women in lab coats, and programmers in T-shirts and jeans, joined in. They were chanting with fervor: “Fuck you, Carreyrou!,” they cried out. “Fuck you, Carreyrou! Fuck. You. Carrey-rou!”

Holmes and Theranos, however, underestimated Carreyrou’s persistence:

On the Friday morning that they gathered in the war room, Holmes and her team of advisers had believed that there would be one negative story from the Journal, and that Holmes would be able to squash the controversy. Then it would be back to business as usual, telling her flawlessly curated story to investors, to the media, and now to patients who used her technology.

Holmes and her advisers couldn’t have been more wrong. Carreyrou subsequently wrote more than two dozen articles about the problems at Theranos…

Holmes and Theranos chose wagon-circling, Carreyrou chose persistence.

There’s the lesson: the defiant huddling of a few is no match for the persistent inquiry of one. Even among the talented and well-heeled, wagon-circling is futile, if predictable.

That’s why those committed to competitive standards know that there is no single story, no single post. There is only the return again and again to a properly distant, detached, and diligent inquiry.

The Sketchy – But Revealing – UW-Whitewater Dormitory Stories 

The big UW-Whitewater story last week wasn’t about a dormitory, but about a lawsuit against former Chancellor Telfer and current Athletic Director Amy Edmonds

The dormitory stories are at best evidence of administrative incompetence, at worst evidence of a manipulated story (albeit ham-handedly).  They also, ironically, offer a dark motivation for the repeated actions of UW-Whitewater officials concerning sexual assault reporting. 

Background.  On Sunday evening, 8.21, the Journal Sentinel published a story about how UW-Whitewater dorm limbo could crimp recruitment. I posted on the story the next day, noting that even by the story’s own terms, the key issue wasn’t a dorm, but the influx of out-of-state students from Illinois. SeeDorm-Construction Isn’t the Big Story.

Five days later, on Friday evening, the Journal posted a follow-up to the dormitory story.  SeeUW-Whitewater dorm back on track.

Turns out, the Journal story was stale even before the first installment on 8.21:

Gov. Scott Walker signed the final contract to hire an architect/engineering firm for the UW-Whitewater residence hall the same day the project was singled out by the regents during their [August 18th] meeting in Madison. The project was working its way through the pipeline in a normal progression, according to Steve Michels, communications director for the state Department of Administration….

UW officials weren’t notified that the governor had signed the contract until Tuesday [8.23], the day after a story about the project delay appeared in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

(In fact, the story appeared online on 8.21, but either way the dorm had been approved before reporter Herzog published a word of her story.)

A few observations:

Convenient, coincidental. How convenient it must have been, on the same day that news broke of a lawsuit against UW-Whitewater, that an unrelated  (and actually resolved) issue was available to divert attention from a more important matter.

The lawsuit was filed in the Eastern District of Wisconsin on 8.18 – university officials surely knew of it before reporter Karen Herzog’s story appeared online or in print.

Incompetent. Honest to goodness, could Herzog not have called to ask the status of the dorm before writing her first story? That first story makes no mention of any attempt to call any state officials. 

The story seems to rely completely and totally on the account of Jeff Arnold, Vice Chancellor for Administrative Affairs at UW-Whitewater

Either Herzog was negligent to omit reference of a call to the state, was negligent not to call the state, or was a dupe in a UW-Whitewater effort to push a non-issue (dorm already approved) over an ongoing, serious one (federal lawsuits and federal Title IX investigations). 

Ineffectual. Since the dorm had already been approved, what does that say about the Vice Chancellor Arnold’s competence or influence that supposedly (1) he didn’t know and (2) nobody bothered to tell him promptly?

Ineffectual, Part 2. All litigation is uncertain. I’ve no idea how either the lawsuit or Title IX administrative claims will develop.

I do know that both stories are now national ones,  and that local efforts to shift the subject are futile (both because the stories have spread too far and because the university’s Media Relations staff are incapable of effectively spinning these accounts against an accurate telling in reply).

Motivation.  Whether Arnold’s fuss over a dorm that had already been approved was from his own incompetence or as a public relations diversion, it’s revealing in a deeper way.

Astonishingly, in the first story, reporter Herzog unintentionally supplies a motivation for the university’s actions to ignore or shove aside those who spoke of sexual assaults on campus: the university was under competitive, financial pressure to recruit out-of-state students.  

Here, from Herzog’s first story:

Since 2009, the school has doubled admissions applications and enrollment of Illinois students. Illinois residents made up 9% of the freshman class in 2009; now they are about 16% of the freshman class, with the largest number coming from McHenry and Lake counties.

Wisconsin resident enrollment is holding steady, according to school officials.

Not having enough housing may work against recruiting efforts in Illinois.

“The lack of housing is constraining our growth,” Arnold said. “It’s our feeling we’re losing students because of our inability to provide housing. Our freshman classes have been capped due to our housing.”

If Arnold thinks that lack of housing will constrain growth, imagine what repeated stories of sexual assualt on campus would do to those same recruitment efforts.

The pressure and push for out-of state-students, from 2009 to 2014, coincides with the clear majority of Richard Telfer’s tenure as chancellor.

Herzog’s first story, one that that Arnold seems to have spoon-fed to her, offers a dark, specific, numerical motivation to suppress assault reporting. 

One could have surmised as much without the story, to be sure, but if the story should be a public-relations inspiration, it’s an especially poor one. 

Expressing public concern over recruiting at the same time students and a former employee are filing complaints about mishandled sexual assault cases, unjust termination, and retaliation is particularly dense. 

More to come. 

Coach Fader Appears on ESPN’s Outside the Lines

 

On Friday, former UW-Whitewater Coach Timothy Fader appeared on ESPN’s nationally-broadcast Outside the Lines, to describe the treatment that led him to file a federal lawsuit against former Chancellor Telfer and current Athletic Director Amy Edmonds. See, Coach fired for reporting sexual assault.

UW-Whitewater officials declined to appear on the program, but issued a statement that anchor Bob Ley read on the air. (The UW-Whitewater statement professes concern for assault survivors but declines to mention that two assault survivors have filed federal Title IX complaints against UW-Whitewater for failing to address their grievances properly as the law requires.)

Channel 3000 first reported on the lawsuit last Monday. This website posted on the lawsuit and story that same day, and included a copy of the federal lawsuit for readers (pdf).

For more on the story, see from Channel 3000 (WISC-TV), Former UW-Whitewater coach tells story to national audience. For prior posts from FREE WHITEWATER, see posts about Coach Fader and UW-Whitewater officials’ conduct.

Long Miles Ahead

I posted yesterday on the federal lawsuit filed against former Chancellor Richard Telfer and current Athletic Director Amy Edmonds.  SeeFormer Coach Fader Files Federal Lawsuit Against UW-Whitewater Officials.

One should not expect a quick resolution to the many issues the lawsuit raises, of mistreatment of honest employees & disregard for assault survivors. On the contrary, in a matter like this there are likely to be tactics of  (1) silence, (2) changing the subject,  (3) lying, (4) blaming terminated employees and assault survivors, and (5) self-serving but unethical insistence that injury to a few served a higher institutional purpose.

We’re nowhere near the end of all this. A federal lawsuit, and a federal investigation into Title IX handling of sexual assault complaints, is a consequence of, but not a certain cure for, the grievances asserted.

There is much yet ahead. 

Former Coach Fader Files Federal Lawsuit Against UW-Whitewater Officials

At Channel 3000, investigative reporter Adam Schrager reports on a federal lawsuit that former Coach Timothy Fader has filed against UW-Whitewater officials, in their individual capacities. (I had promised readers that I would continue to follow this story, and will continue to do so as the case unfolds.)

Both current Athletic Director Amy Edmonds and former Chancellor Richard Telfer are named defendants:

The lawsuit asserts that Fader was not renewed as the school’s wrestling coach in the summer of 2014 because he immediately reported an alleged sexual assault committed by one of his recruits directly to Whitewater police and not to his supervisors on campus, per university policy. After that, Fader alleges an official at a college in Minnesota called Edmonds for a job reference but was told that she could not “tell him the whole story,” creating “even more mystery and (implying) additional but unreported misconduct on Fader’s part,” according to the lawsuit.

Fader also makes the claim that there are no records of an earlier sexual assault he had reported to university officials. UW-Whitewater is facing two Title IX complaints filed with the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Education in the last two years. Title IX legislation was passed by Congress in 1972 to prohibit discrimination by gender in federally-funded education programs.

See, Former UW-Whitewater wrestling coach files lawsuit : AD, former chancellor named as defendants @ Channel 3000.

See, additionally, prior posts about Coach Fader and UW-Whitewater officials’ conduct.

More to come.

Below is an embedded copy of the federal complaint:


Download (PDF, 6.78MB)

‘A Trust Betrayed’: The Update on the Title IX Claims Against UW-Whitewater

Over at the Gazette, above the fold, there’s a frontpage story about Ms. Raechel Liska, an honors graduate of UW-Whitewater, and her Title IX claim against UW-Whitewater for failing to  address properly her sexual assault complaint. The story refers also to an earlier Title IX complaint against the school (the two complaints are now joined administratively), and the account of a
third student that corroborates the experiences of the two Title IX complainants.

See, from Andrea Anderson, A Trust Betrayed, http://www.gazettextra.com/20160227/former_uw_w_student_stands_up_for_more_awareness_around_sexual_assault (subscription req’d).

Ms. Anderson’s story publishes significant new information about the claims, and more detail about what’s already been published.

The story reveals that there are at least three, not two, women who allege the same administrative misconduct and concealment. Two of those women have filed Title IX complaints, and a third submitted a supporting statement:

20160228“Liska has encouraged at least one other student to come forward and submit supplemental testimony to be attached to Liska’s Title IX claim.

Sarah, a senior at UW-W who agreed to let The Gazette use her first name, learned about Liska through the media. In her testimony, Sarah wrote she experienced a similar response as Liska from UW-W after reporting she was sexually assaulted by another student.

Sarah claims Mackin did not inform her of her Title IX rights and felt as if Mackin “talked down” to her and “never addressed the actual problem that I was having: I was abused by another UW-Whitewater student and I was terrified,” according to the testimony.

UW-W police talked to the accused, but Sarah still felt the university was minimizing her fears of retaliation from the man, Sarah wrote.

Sarah could not file her own Title IX complaint because the deadline had passed, Held said. Sarah was given the option to add testimony to Liska’s claim and did so to help push for improvement in UW-W’s response to sexual assault victims.

It was “distressing to realize that, after talking to Raechel about her interactions with the school, I wasn’t alone in this treatment. It made me want to change the way the University deals with cases like mine and Raechel’s,” Sarah said in her testimony.”

Most of these cases are resolved administratively, and that’s the goal of the claimants here. How this will be resolved, of course, I do not know; successful resolutions need good terms and a sincere effort to carry them out.

I’ve no connection whatever to these claimants or their lawyers. That’s both by nature and design – having seen more than one tragedy in this small & beautiful, but sometimes troubled city, I simply don’t believe, for politics or policy, in close.  On the contrary, it’s distance that makes one’s work, as an ongoing chronicle, possible.

I would hope that these claimants, as people with unique hopes and aspirations, find whatever measure of remedy they are seeking, so fully and completely as possible.

See, also, other posts that are part of a category on Assault Awareness and Prevention dedicated to this topic.

Attorney General Schimel’s Support for Senate Bill 656

Late last month, Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel joined law enforcement officials at a press conference to announce his support for a bill that would offer amnesty for underage drinkers who report incidents of sexual assault (whether reporting as claimants or bystanders).   The bill (Senate Bill 656) would assure that someone could report an assault without worry of being cited for drinking, a possibility that might deter a claimant or bystander from contacting the police.

He was not alone in his support – SB 656 has support from both sides of the aisle, with both Republican and Democratic co-sponsors.

Once again, as with his meeting with sexual assault survivors (despite a refusal of UW-System officials to do likewise), one sees that A.G. Schimel understands that respect for individuals requires that their claims be heard.  Whether their claims are meritorious is a matter to be determined after they’ve had a chance to offer a claim –  failure to hear them out is deciding a matter a priori, a failure that would be inimical to the principles of a society based on individual rights.

(Those who are accused deserve and must have due process – that due process requires taking and processing a claim, not rejecting or pretending that claims have not been made.)

One alternative to hearing claims and offering due process to all individuals is a crude act utilitarianism in which university officials – in the name of protecting an organization’s reputation but truly to protect their own reputations – bury claims, ignore claimants, and ruin the careers of those who report incidents.

The UW System – and UW-Whitewater officials in particular – are accused by multiple claimants of burying claims (1 and 2), contending falsely that publicly-paid bureaucrats cannot speak to claimants, and insisting self-servingly that claims can only be presented one way.

A.G. Schimel’s support for SB 656 is support for the view that being heard can and should legitimately trump the circumstances surrounding when and how one makes oneself heard.  His support further undermines the unpersuasive, risible contention that the Telfer Administration at UW-Whitewater acted on principle in these several matters.

There’s no serious choice in this:  one can embrace the reasoned view of a well-educated, experienced prosecutor who has (sadly) seen many cases of assault in his career, or one can side with the flimsy, self-protective claims of lightweight administrators and their press flacks.

Contrasting Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel and Media Relations Director Sara Kuhl

In December, Laura Dunn, Esquire and four of her clients, all with experiences within Wisconsin as sexual assault survivors, met with Wisconsin’s Attorney General, Brad Schimel, to discuss their concerns about how the UW System is addressing sexual assault complaints. SeeUW sexual assault survivors meet with AG, seek meeting with UW system leaders @ Channel 3000.

(One of Ms. Dunn’s clients appearing on camera is from UW-Whitewater; at least one other client of hers, to my knowledge, is also from UW-Whitewater.  That second client gave an audio interview to WISC-TV on 3.19.15, but was not part of the December 2015 video interview.)

Repeatedly, officials at UW-Whitewater and in the UW System have insisted that they cannot speak with the assault survivors who have pending federal Title IX claims against UW-Whitewater (there are now two) or the UW System (there are at least three more against other UW System schools).

This is simply absurd as a matter of law.  Not simply absurd, but manipulatively, mendaciously absurd.  There is no general prohibition whatever, in law or in legal practice, against talking or meeting with adversarial or potentially adversarial claimants.  In fact, these kinds of meetings and discussions happen commonly between opposing sides in all sorts of legal matters.

To believe otherwise, one would have to believe that Brad Schimel, Attorney General of the State of Wisconsin, a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Law, an accomplished county prosecutor having conducted over one-hundred fifty jury trials, who has chaired the Wisconsin Crime Victim Council and Sexual Assault Response Team, somehow has a weaker grasp of the law than Sara Kuhl, a university public-relations woman and sometime proprietor of 2Kuhl Public Relations.

(Now I’m libertarian, not a Republican, so A.G. Schimel and I would likely disagree over points here and there.  Nonetheless, there is simply no imaginable circumstance in which I would reject Mr. Schimel’s assessment of what’s legally possible for Ms. Kuhl’s view.  In fact, to take the measure of Ms. Kuhl’s position, in her view the request of Laura Dunn, Esq. [University of Maryland Law and Adjunct Professor at that same school] for a meeting is, also, unjustified in legal practice. That’s absurd, too.)

Ignoring these claimants is contrary to conventional legal practice, perpetuates a response of collective silence in the face of individual grievances, and asks the community to reject the views of accomplished, qualified attorneys for the sake of shallow sophistry.

About That Accreditation at UW-Whitewater…

Last week, UW-Whitewater’s administration announced, in oddly grand terms, the results of an accreditation review from the HLC.  (That would be the ‘Higher Learning Commission,’ one of dozens of self-designated accrediting organizations of the same ilk.)  One reads that the accreditation was ‘a weighty stamp of approval’ of our campus administration’s actions. The accreditation was nothing of the kind. Much of it relies on supposed ‘evidence’ of good conduct that is, in fact, evidence of nothing truly happening on campus. Nothing.

For sexual assault survivors, in particular, the HLC accreditation is a dishonest fig leaf.

Consider how the HLC report finds ‘evidence’ of ethical conduct:

2 – Integrity: Ethical and Responsible Conduct

The institution acts with integrity; its conduct is ethical and responsible.

2.A – Core Component 2.A

The institution operates with integrity in its financial, academic, personnel, and auxiliary functions; it establishes and follows policies and processes for fair and ethical behavior on the part of its governing board, administration, faculty, and staff.

Rating

Met

Evidence

The University of Wisconsin – Whitewater maintains a deep commitment to integrity and ethical conduct as evidenced by a number of documents including those related to a long history of shared governance, inclusive decision making, equal opportunities, and personnel rules for UW-W faculty and staff. Meetings with deans, other academic leaders, faculty and staff confirm the commitment.

Board of Regents policies further support a high standard of integrity as outlined in Board of Regents Measures to Eliminate Racism, Consensual Relationships, Gender Discrimination, Harassment & Retaliation and a variety statutes listed in Chapter 19 of the Wisconsin Statutes.

Emphasis mine.

For the HLC, evidence of proper local conduct is a document or – honest to goodness, wait for it – a state statute.

No, and no again: only actual ethical conduct is evidence of actual ethical conduct.  Documents and statutes are no evidence whatever of how local administrators or others are behaving.  Only how they behave is evidence of how they’re behaving.

Imagine, for example, that Martians visited the United States in 1925, and wanted to learn about the behavior of Americans from that time.

Mars_23_aug_2003_hubbleLet’s suppose that the leader of the Martian expedition sent field workers across America to learn about how residents of the United States lived in 1925. Out the extraterrestrial field workers went, to explore this country.

Upon their return to the Martian spacecraft, an elderly Martian asks the field workers a few questions, among them a question about Americans’ drinking habits.

“Do Americans consume alcoholic beverages?’ the Martian leader asks.

“No,” replies one of the Red Planet’s investigators. “No one in America drinks any alcoholic beverages.”

“How do you know this?” asks the elderly Martian. “What evidence have you found?”

“Well,” say the younger ones, “we checked, and these Americans have a constitutional amendment1 that forbids consumption of alcohol, so we know that there is no drinking of alcohol among them.”

No one who values learning and reasoning would settle for the young Martians’ supposed evidence about alcohol; no one who values learning and reasoning should settle for this feeble claim of good-conduct-because-the-rules-say-so.   This administration’s proffer of evidence is an embarrassment to higher learning, and unworthy of so many deserving students and faculty.

Sadly, there’s even worse in the HLC report, on page 54 (page 7 of the ‘Compliance Team Template’):

As is the trend nationwide, there appears to be a concern about the number of unwanted sexual advances.

These bland words are simultaneously despicable and false.  They’re false because they describe concern about ‘unwanted sexual advances’ when the actual concern is about rape and about administrative handling of rape cases.  They’re despicable because the brief mention of the subject does all it can to minimize the seriousness of injury to people, and also the seriousness to those who are accused, too (‘appears to be a concern,’ ‘as is the trend nationwide’ and the euphemism ‘unwanted sexual advances’).

Hundreds of millions are spent at this public institution, including sums for poorly-written press releases.  A career in feeble, mendacious excuse-making is an unworthy one.

UW-Whitewater’s students, faculty, and Whitewater’s residents deserve a better administration than this.

1. In fact, the Martians would have been wrong even about what the Eighteenth Amendment, on its face, required.  That now-repealed provision actually restricted only the ‘manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicating liquors,’ rather than their consumption.  Not only would they have been wrong to rely on the Eighteen Amendment as evidence that Americans didn’t drink, but they also would have read the Amendment incorrectly.

Larry Wilmore of The Nightly Show on Bill Cosby’s Arraignment

 

At the conclusion of his remarks, Wilmore observes that

“Even if he doesn’t get convicted, this is still a good thing, because for too long, the women who have accused him of this crime were not being listened to, because they were being silenced by a powerful man and a complicit culture. And, now, finally, regardless of what happens next, they’re being heard. And that’s a start.”

Yes, it is.

The Nature of the Federal Title IX Complaints Against UW-Whitewater

The two, separate federal complaints that sexual assault survivors have filed against UW-Whitewater are complaints against that institution for the failure to comply with lawful requirements for handling these alleged survivors’ claims (regardless of the underlying facts in any given claimant’s case).  

(That’s why, when Title IX complainants seek federal recourse, they say that they have been assaulted twice – once from an assailant, and a second time when they feel they have been denied the required Title IX support from their own campuses.  A federal Title IX complaint is against a school for failing to respond as required to the request for local assistance.)

These complainants allege that, apart from the underlying facts of each assault, UW-Whitewater and one of her principal administrators failed to provide the standard of care and responsiveness that the law requires.  Both women allege not merely that UW-Whitewater’s Dean of Students, Mary Beth Mackin, was deficient in her response, but that she was unlawfully so.  The second complaint, pointedly, claims that UW-Whitewater acted in a sexually discriminatory way, itself an additional violation of the law.

More seriously, these two women allege that UW-Whitewater has actually and effectually obstructed  the required processing of their complaints.

The inescapable legal issue here is how UW-Whitewater processes complaints, and whether that institution has done so as the law requires.  The practical issue is that failure to treat all complaints as the law requires will dissuade future sexual assault survivors from coming forward.

If officials oppose applicable federal laws, the  legitimate response is to petition for an amendment or repeal of those laws.

No one employed at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, regardless of his or her role, has a right to disregard existing legal requirements.  It does not matter how much those in the administration might wish to balance the law against other (often self-interested and self-protective) reputational considerations.

The law does not allow that balancing.  No official is above – nor any individual below – the law.  It does not matter how important officials believe they are, how much other work they feel has gone well, etc.  

The legal question is how public officials, receiving public funds, bound by federal law, complied with that federal law (regardless of the underlying facts in any given claimant’s case). There is neither a legal (nor an ethical) escape from this fundamental question.  

Practically, the most important question is what actually happened to sexual assault survivors, and the well-being of those survivors and future ones.

The nature of these Title IX complaints, as matters under law, concerns how an institution has addressed the requests for assistance that it received from those within its care.

See, concerning these two claims:

How UW-Whitewater Treated a Sexual Assault Victim

A Second Sex-Assault Survivor Files Federal Complaint Against UW-Whitewater

Chancellor Kopper’s Belated Statement on Another Federal Complaint

Today, only after publication of an account of a second Title IX complaint against UW-Whitewater from a second sexual assault survivor, Chancellor Kopper finally chose to issue a statement in her own words (assuming that she wrote it). I have published that statement in full, at the bottom of this post. (For the story on this second complaint, see, Sex assault survivor claims discrimination by university @ Channel 3000, WISC-TV.)

There is no reasonable person who contends that being “committed” is a statement. It’s an action.

And yet, and yet, even the statement finally issued under Chancellor Kopper’s own name reveals the indifference of her prior efforts – she now feels it necessary to begin her second paragraph with the tired phrase, “let me be clear…”

If Kopper had been clear, even in prior words alone, she would not need to remind readers of her self-professed clarity of views.

To those in the university’s Media Relations group – either your chancellor cannot issue a statement without revealing her past indifference, or you cannot draft one for her.

There should be – and so there will be – no end of effort until the institutional misconduct that has failed two women (and perhaps more men and women) ends.

One sees, also, that Kopper falsely professes to avoid speaking about this pending complaint, but simultaneously declares that “[a]ll complaints are reviewed with respect and compassion for all involved.”

No, and no again: that’s the very question at issue here. By asserting that all complaints have been reviewed with “respect and compassion” Kopper most certainly does address the allegations in this pending investigation, by categorically denying their possibility of being true.

A future assault survivor will read Kopper’s words and recognize that past survivors’ claims have been categorically denied.  This is an assurance of a chilling effect against future reporting.

Why can she not see this?  Honest to goodness, is there no one in her office who can think matters through?

Thus she hides behind a pending investigation selectively, contending that she cannot speak only when it suits her.

In any event, a statement will not suffice. A change of institutional conduct – and removal of those culpable of misconduct – is needed here.

See, please, the It’s On Us Campaign and Not Alone, a site for those who have experienced sexual assault with resources of support.

Chancellor Kopper’s statement immediately follows —

Message regarding recent Title IX complaint

Dear Campus Community,

You may be aware through media reports that a second complaint has been filed with the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights alleging that UW-Whitewater may have violated Title IX. Because of the ongoing investigation, I am not in a position to discuss specifics. Our campus will cooperate fully with the Office for Civil Rights as it investigates.

Let me be clear, UW-Whitewater has been and remains committed to raising awareness about the impact of sexual violence and taking steps toward preventing any occurrence of sexual violence on our campus. All complaints are reviewed with respect and compassion for all involved.

I know that all across campus there are faculty, staff and students who are engaged in efforts to help promote a campus climate that is free from violence and discrimination, and I applaud those efforts. As a community, we pride ourselves on being a safe and welcoming place for all.

Please understand that if you have been the victim of a sexual assault, you are not alone. There are people within the UW-Whitewater community here to support you. Retaliation for reporting is strictly prohibited. We encourage you to report sexual assault to UW-Whitewater Police at 262-472-4660 or the Dean of Students office at 262-472-1533.

The campus website offers many resources to help keep you safe: http://www.uww.edu/sexual-misconduct-information/keeping-safe

Sincerely,
Beverly Kopper
Chancellor

https://announcements.uww.edu/Details/12523

A Second Sex-Assault Survivor Files Federal Complaint Against UW-Whitewater

Raechel-liska-650-jpg
Raechel Liska, aged 22.  Photo from Channel 3000.

Link to Ms. Liska’s video interview, available online

Raechel Liska, aged 22, an honors student and Army ROTC candidate at UW-Whitewater, has filed a sexual discrimination action with the U.S. Department of Education, Civil Rights Division, against our local university.

This is the second federal action that a sexual assault survivor has filed against the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater in the last eighteen months.

At WISC-TV, investigative journalist Adam Schrager reports on Ms. Liska’s complaint, one that contends that the university’s conduct in her case is “reflective of a systemic gender-based (response) that favored [her] male assailant.” See, Sex assault survivor claims discrimination by university @ Channel 3000, WISC-TV.

Assaulted twice

Ms. Liska was violently assaulted, but when she sought recourse – as federal law (and mere humanity) – requires, she met with a further tragedy:

“I got assaulted twice,” Liska said. “Once by my attacker, which was the traumatic, horrific part, but again by the school, which was the betrayal.”

Liska said UWW Dean of Students Mary Beth Mackin violated her civil rights by refusing to interview two witnesses and by not accepting either the police report or her medical records stemming from the incident. She also asserts Mackin did not issue a no-contact order against her alleged attacker, even as he retaliated and intimidated her after she spoke to authorities. Further, it was the Army that stepped in and removed her assailant from her classes three months after the incident in question, even after she’d asked the university to do the same multiple times, only to be rebuffed.

“The reason I filed my complaint is because something here needs to change,” she said. “I thought the dean of students would be protecting the students, protecting me. She’s the dean of students. I thought I’d be her priority, but I walked out feeling like protecting the school was her top priority.”

Dean of Students Mary Beth Mackin’s gross misconduct

Ms. Liska accomplished much, and loved the university, but that university treated her injuriously and shamefully:

She also asserts that Mackin never informed her of her Title IX rights after she made her initial report and did not provide her with a sexual assault advocate on campus. Liska remains on campus now studying to become a high school history teacher. She said she’s coming forward now because she doesn’t want any other UWW students to experience what she’s gone through.

“It doesn’t matter to me specifically what their opinions are of the assault itself. What matters to me is how people feel I was treated by the institution I trusted most,” she said. “I want my face and my name attached to this story. I want it to be personal. I want people to take it personally and I want there to be change out of it.”

After Raechel Liska was assaulted, and after her mistreatment from one of the university’s leading administrators, the university still used Ms. Liska’s picture to promote UW-Whitewater as a safe and welcoming place:

The university is currently distributing a pamphlet to new and prospective students that prominently features Liska in uniform on a page titled, “Leaders and Mentors.”

“I am really bothered that the university still uses me as an exemplary image but is so resistant to helping me at my most vulnerable time,” she said.

Raped, ignored and mistreated by her university, and yet used as a public-relations pawn by that same university.

What would be worse: that this university media-relations team is so obtuse that they cannot see the injury use of Ms. Liska’s promotional picture represents, that they are so indifferent they simply do not care, that they are so parsimonious that they will use the picture rather than publish a new one, or that they manipulatively think use of the picture would somehow impress Ms. Liska?

So let us hope, Dieu aidant, that we should never become so contemptible as officials of this ilk.

Chancellor Beverly Kopper hides behind her spokeswoman

Astonishingly, Chancellor Beverly Kopper cannot be troubled to respond to these allegations in her own voice. Instead, she hides behind a spokeswoman’s dull, stale statement:

“UW-Whitewater Chancellor Beverly Kopper believes that providing a safe environment for students, faculty and staff is her first priority,” wrote Sara Kuhl, UWW’s director of marketing and media relations, in a statement to News 3. “UW-Whitewater has been and remains committed to raising awareness about the existence and impact of sexual violence and taking active steps toward preventing the occurrence of sexual violence on campus. UW-Whitewater takes all complaints very seriously and every complaint is handled with care and compassion for all parties involved.”

Scripture records that God spoke thorough Moses, and Moses spoke through Aaron, but I am quite convinced that Beverly Kopper is neither Creator nor Prophet – it is a measure of either profound ignorance or arrogance that Kopper would not speak in her own words.

This is the second accusation that directly and specifically names Mary Beth Mackin:

The first Title IX complaint against the school was filed in January 2014. The survivor in that case alleged that UWW administrators, specifically Mackin, missed appointments, hurried conversations and failed to interview key witnesses to her claims. Federal investigators have been on campus interviewing students and administrators about those allegations.

I would invite readers to read Mr. Schrager’s full account.  See, Sex assault survivor claims discrimination by university @ Channel 3000, WISC-TV.  The WISC-TV broadcast story is scheduled to air @ 10 PM Thursday evening, 11.5.15.

Previously, see How UW-Whitewater Treated a Sexual Assault Victim (referring to a story, also from Adam Schrager at WISC-TV, on another assault survivor’s gross mistreatment while at UW-Whitewater).

There will be more to publish on this matter, and updates as developments warrant.

One assault survivor abused was too many; two similarly abused are a grave offense against individual dignity, common morality, and American standards of justice and fairness.

See, also, the It’s On Us Campaign and Not Alone, a site for those who have experienced sexual assault with resources of support.

Boo! Scariest Things in Whitewater, 2015



Here’s the ninth annual FREE WHITEWATER list of the scariest things in Whitewater for 2015. The 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014 editions are available for comparison.

The list runs in reverse order, from mildly frightening to truly scary.

10. The Coming Ferret Invasion. Alternative title: The Unprepared Will Be Doomed.  Earlier this year, I predicted that Whitewater would experience a massive invasion of ferrets.  Why?  Because I correctly guessed that New York City would not lift its ban on ferret ownership in that city.  In consequence, the aggrieved, hidden ferrets of the Big Apple are sure to decamp for ferret another location.

Whitewater, of course.

In my estimation, they were supposed to be here by mid-October, but perhaps they’re walking more slowly than I’d calculated.

In any event, there’s a way to protect ordinary, decent residents from the rodent takeover.  (It’s mistaken to say that this website does not offer solutions to problems.  It often does.  I would also
remind officials of Whitewater that the easiest way to avoid problems is not to take actions that cause problems.)

Here’s how to protect Whitewater against thousands of invading ferrets.  First, find a city official who has time on his hands.  That’s the easy part. Second, station that official miles from Whitewater, in a rural location between here and the ferrets’ path.  Third, as these small, voracious mammals approach, it will be the official’s job to associate a picture with food, happiness, etc., in the ferrets’ minds. That way, they will seek the location in the picture, and avoid residents’ homes and businesses.  The entire advancing horde will congregate only at the location depicted in the photograph.

I’ve just the place in mind:

WWMB

Problem solved.

9. Key People.  I heard a presentation recently where the presenter tried to reassure others that she would seek the input of key people.  There are no key people – at least not in a way that makes it worth using the term.  There are only key ideas.  All the rest is an attempt at flattery or an expression of insecurity.

A group of supposedly key people is no match for one ordinary man or woman with a key idea.

8. One’s Own Words.  They must be scary; one hears them so seldom.  There are a few who think that somehow they’re better off relying on poorly written and poorly read publications than speaking and writing on their own.   That’s a mistake.  Servile papers and websites will not prove enough, anymore; the readership dynamic in this city shifted irreversibly against their publications.

(Actual traffic measurements of various publications are nothing like how insiders or publishers want to portray them; realistic measurements show how far insiders’ publications have declined or stagnated, and how much others have gained.  One can be very confident about the future in this regard.)

Talented people – including many officials individually – are simply throwing away their opportunities when they rely on publications markedly inferior to their own abilities.

7. Potholes.  They must be scary, because we’re avoiding them, and spending more on big projects than we’d need for simple street repair.

6. Gaps.  The greatest republic in human history (ours) grew in liberty and prosperity though careful examination of projects and ideas.  We did not develop word-class technologies by believing ‘close is good enough’ on engineering or fiscal projects.  When, however, someone asks that American standards be applied to Whitewater’s projects, officials whine that identifying gaps is unfair, nitpicking, etc.

In what society do they think they live, for goodness’ sake?

America is great, in significant part, because she – unlike foul Third World autocracies, for example – expects high standards from her leaders and their proposals.

5. Open Government & Temporary Amnesia. Every public body has a website, on which they publish every big boast, but somehow these same officials can’t seem to remember how to post key public documents prominently.  They seem to forget, but only temporarily and selectively.

4. WEDC money.  Not just worthless – it is – but worse: a diversion of resources from far greater needs.  The many poor in this city get nothing from this money.

warg

 

3. Data.  Presenting scores in a realistic context is harder for Whitewater’s school administrators than facing a pack of savage wargs.

2. Filth, Scum, and the Flimsy Scheme to Bring Them to the City.  I’ve a series about this, in WHEN GREEN TURNS BROWN.  There’s a burn-the-village-to-save it quality to waste importation as a means of revenue.  (And yet, the sadness here is that the entire digester-energy project was unnecessary, and the obloquy it brings being wholly deserved for being unforced.)

1. The Ethical Indifference of Act Utilitarianism. Some of the large public institutions of this city show time and again that they care more about their reputations – and that means the reputations of their leaders – than the health and safety of their ordinary members.

The worst example of this has been the repeated downplaying of violent assaults against women on campus while touting accomplishments that cannot, ethically, matter as much as those injuries. These have been self-protective, morally empty, and ultimately futile attempts at diversion and subject-changing.

A climate like this has invited and will invite further tragedies; the worst of this, sadly, surely is not over.

Other officials who allow subject-changing are, themselves, culpable of a supportive wrong.  See, An Open Note to Leaders of the Municipal Government, the School District, and UW-Whitewater.  It’s right and fair that officials who aid in diversionary conversations should be called out directly & specifically when they make that attempt.

For it all, we’ll get to a better city, consigning these ways to the dustbin.

There’s the 2015 list.  We’re more than able to overcome these problems, for a stronger community.

Best wishes to all for a Happy Halloween.