Linfield Administrators on Sexual Assault
Published by Cale Byers on .
Filed under Campus
On February 28, 2019, I emailed some questions about sexual assault to the administrators of Linfield College, our entire college public safety department, and other staff whose opinions about sexual assault have an impact on the safety and well-being of students. In total, I emailed 30 staff members, a large portion of which are the CPS officers, who were prohibited by their director from giving a response to my email. I was able to meet with two individuals, Dennis Marks (the director of CPS) and Dawn Graff-Haight (professor and sexual misconduct & relationship violence counselor). My discussions were mostly productive, and it became evident that my approach to conducting an email survey of 30 administrators wasn't practical, as everyone is quite busy and not able to commit an hour to an email.
However, it has since been 78 days, and none of the other admin have bothered to acknowledge the email. On March 11, I was invited by Jeff Mackay to meet with Susan Hopp, our Title IX Coordinator, or if she wasn't available, to meet with Jeff and Patricia Haddeland together. I haven't had the time to meet and have been facing a stressful semester, but I hope to meet sometime soon. My eventual meeting with Susan does not give other administrators a free pass. I expect a response from everyone, and I suspect that everyone considered themselves to be free from interrogation, wishing to place the burden on Susan Hopp. If that were so, I wouldn't have emailed 30 different individuals.
Our president, Miles Davis, has failed to answer any of my questions, let alone acknowledge my email. Apart from the other five individuals named above, no administrator has had the courtesy to acknowledge my email. It is shameful that none of our high-ranking administrators are willing to discuss such an important topic, and I hope that this article forces a response. Many people are raped at Linfield each year, and there is a combined failure of education, state law, school policy, and city ordinances contributing to the issues.
Does Miles Davis have a response to my email questions about sexual assault? Or is he too busy posting pictures of his socks? Do any other administrators care to schedule time to meet with me or answer any of my emailed questions? It's been 78 days since my email, and I'm sure that by now everyone could have given a response or expressed a lack of interest. This is unacceptable.
Below is the email I sent out:
From: Cale Byers (email@example.com)
Subject: Request for Comment - Journalism : Consent to Sexual Activity
Date: February 28, 2019 at 8:42:14 PM PST
To: Jeff Mackay (firstname.lastname@example.org), Susan Hopp (email@example.com), Dawn Graff-Haight (firstname.lastname@example.org), Amy Dames Smith (email@example.com), Garry Killgore (firstname.lastname@example.org), Miles Davis (Miles.email@example.com), John McKeegan (firstname.lastname@example.org), Dennis Marks (email@example.com), Susan Agre-Kippenhan (firstname.lastname@example.org), Mary Ann Rodriguez (email@example.com), Gregory Tullius (firstname.lastname@example.org), Brenda DeVore Marshall (email@example.com), (firstname.lastname@example.org), (email@example.com), (firstname.lastname@example.org), (email@example.com), (firstname.lastname@example.org), (email@example.com), (firstname.lastname@example.org), Mary Heite (email@example.com), (firstname.lastname@example.org), (email@example.com), Adrian Hammond (firstname.lastname@example.org), Kathleen Jensen (email@example.com), Keri Dixon (firstname.lastname@example.org), Doug Hire (email@example.com), David Massey (firstname.lastname@example.org), (email@example.com), Mikenna Whatley (firstname.lastname@example.org), (email@example.com)
I’m writing a piece, perhaps for the Linfield Review, on the topic of consent for sexual activity. Your answers will be made public and are necessary to help understand the opinion of college administrators and CPS officers. You are not obligated to reply to this email, but it would be appreciated. Anyone who does not answer will just be listed under a heading, No Response, and those who don’t wish to answer will be listed under a heading, Declined to Answer. If you don’t have enough information to answer a question, please do research or ask me for clarification. After roughly 7-10 days, I will publish the article online.
The first two questions are short and to the point:
1. Should consent to sexual activity be obtained while all parties are sober?
2. Can someone consent to sexual activity while under the influence of drugs, and under which circumstances?
An obvious objection is that people may want to have sex while under the influence of drugs, and it’s a fact of life that people do have sex while drunk, and they don’t consider it to be sexual misconduct or rape. I'm not suggesting that we define such behavior as rape or misconduct. Rather, I want to know if people, regardless of their relationship status or sexual history, first should obtain consent while sober. Question three, then is as follows:
3. Should people, even those with prior sexual relationships, first establish consent to intoxicated sex while sober, or can they become intoxicated and then engage in sexual activity, without obtaining consent to intoxicated sex beforehand?
Now consider ORS 163.325, which provides an affirmative defense in circumstances of incapacity to consent:
In any prosecution under ORS 163.355 (Rape in the third degree) to 163.445 (Sexual misconduct) in which the victim’s lack of consent is based solely upon the incapacity of the victim to consent because the victim is mentally defective, mentally incapacitated or physically helpless, it is an affirmative defense for the defendant to prove that at the time of the alleged offense the defendant did not know of the facts or conditions responsible for the victim’s incapacity to consent.
To rephrase more clearly, if someone can prove they didn’t know the facts or circumstances for the victim being either mentally defective, mentally incapacitated, or physically helpless, then they cannot be convicted of the alleged sex crimes. Before answering my next questions, you’ll likely want to have the definitions for “mentally defective,” “mentally incapacitated,” and “physically helpless.” As defined in ORS 163.305:
(2) “Mentally defective” means that a person suffers from a qualifying mental disorder that renders the person incapable of appraising the nature of the conduct of the person. (3) “Mentally incapacitated” means that a person is rendered incapable of appraising or controlling the conduct of the person at the time of the alleged offense. (5) “Physically helpless” means that a person is unconscious or for any other reason is physically unable to communicate unwillingness to an act.
I believe you now have ample information to interpret the laws and the definitions, as applied to some final questions. If not, I am happy to clarify things.
4. Is it ever acceptable to be ignorant of “the facts or conditions responsible for” someone’s “incapacity to consent,” and have sex with that person, and under which circumstances?
5. Is it ever acceptable to engage in sexual activity with someone who is physically helpless, and under which circumstances?
6. Does the definition of “mentally incapacitated” clearly address intoxication from drugs, including alcohol?
7. If not, should the definitions be more clear?
8. Is there anything you would change about Oregon’s sex crimes legislation?
9. Is there anything you would change about Linfield’s policies for sexual assault, misconduct, or other relationship violence, stalking, or harassment?
I appreciate your cooperation and timely responses. If you have any questions, please let me know.
This article was last updated at 8:29pm, approximately 45 minutes after its publication, to reflect Susan Hopp's involvement with the story, and Jeff Mackay's email invitation. For clarification, it seemed worth adding the possibility that other administrators expected Susan to handle my email, thereby excusing themselves from the matter. I needed to make it clear that this is not the case, nor has it ever been, and that I expected a reply from all people.
An update on Saturday at 11:11am provided links to the quoted ORS text, which were also included in the email. I forgot to add them in the email body when publishing. I also added that Dawn is a professor.