USC and the University of Texas compete these days not only on the football field.
In 2006, University of Texas quarterback Vince Young, facing fourth down and five with the national championship game on the line, scrambled for a touchdown, bringing an end to a three-year run of dominance by the University of Southern California.
For many Texans, it was the state’s single most glorious moment not involving Jim Bowie and Davy Crockett. So as the two universities prepare for a rematch next month, it’s fitting that Texas has once again seized a trophy from USC. Only this one, as the Apostle Paul put it, is a vessel unto dishonor.
In the FakeRapeStakes taking place on American university campuses since the Obama administration sent out its infamous “Dear Colleague” letter, USC charged into first place earlier this year by kicking a Rose Bowl-winning hero off the football team for “roughhousing” with his girlfriend (her word). It’s a bizarre story. They were horsing around, a neighbor told a roommate, who told a tennis coach, who told someone else, and soon the couple was facing the sexual star chambers now virtually required on U.S. campuses thanks to a preposterously tendentious new reading of an old civil rights law.
USC’s Title IX director, Gretchen Dahlinger Means, is a real peach. She was once recorded asking her colleagues, “Does that college m**f**er know who I am?” after a student had dared to ask the names of the secret panelists who had just ruined his life. In the case of USC kicker Matt Boermeester, it didn’t matter to the administrators that the supposed victim categorically denied any abuse.
“I want to be very clear that I have never been abused, assaulted or otherwise mistreated by Matt. He is an incredible person, and I am and have been 100% behind him,” the girlfriend, tennis player Zoe Katz, said. “Nothing happened that warranted an investigation, much less the unfair, biased and drawn out process that we have been forced to endure quietly.”
Didn’t matter. The bureaucrats who owe their existence to a mantra that sexual assault survivors must always be believed chose not to believe the young woman. “When I told the truth about Matt, in repeated interrogations, I was stereotyped and was told I must be a ‘battered’ woman, and that made me feel demeaned and absurdly profiled,” Katz said.
Boermeester was kicked off the team. His status as the hero of one of the greatest games USC has ever played is what magnifies the disgrace, what turns honor to dishonor. Now, when hundreds of thousands of USC alumni recall the game, our feelings will be forever laced with disgust at the cretins and cowards who run our alma mater.
However, University of Texas President Greg Fenves has figured out a way to make this foul business even more rancid — add some cronyism. Fenves’ predecessor, Bill Powers, was fired for doing too many favors for university donors. Namely, he ran a secret backdoor admissions program with fines de lucro. That he was replaced with his right-hand man tells you a lot about the sorry/not sorry attitude of the institutional powers that be. The cronies run this place.
One of these big donors, whom Fenves had recently invited to join an advisory council, has a daughter at the school, who drank “approximately five cups of sangria” on a boat one afternoon, and then much later that night, after her sorority’s formal, had sex with her date. It was proper modern sex, with valid consent all but duly notarized.
The timeline: they went from the boat party, at which her alcohol consumption ceased, by bus to her sorority house, and then again by bus to the formal, taking about two hours in all; then after an hour and a half at the formal, they took a bus back to the sorority and hung out for an hour, grabbing a bite to eat. Then they walked to the boy’s apartment, according to the lawsuit he has filed.
So you’re looking at about five hours in all.
Now, as a hefty middle-aged man who’s lived a life worthy of some reproach, I can’t immediately guess what the effects of five cups of sangria, whatever their potency, on a 19-year-old woman might be, but I do know she’s not telling the truth, for the same reason. However drunk she needed to be to still be drunk five hours later, she couldn’t possibly have been, without taking a nap or drugs.
There is a window of misunderstanding. Young women who seem fine after taking their last drink may yet slip out of bounds 30 or 40 minutes later, as the drink and the sun take their effect, but ain’t nobody ever got suddenly drunk five hours after last call.
The Title IX hearing actually went the young man’s way, as there had been no question of force or actual incapacitation. Her own sorority sister had said, “Her story just did not seem very credible to me. I think she might have been using being drunk as an excuse.”
Even at a liberal school like UT, reason does provide some constraint. Yet Fenves intervened, and suspended the young man for five semesters.
“An intoxicated person cannot consent to sex due to incapacitation,” Fenves wrote.
Let that sink in.
The university’s actual standards, vague as they are, define incapacitation in the way we all understand the term — it means wasted, or “too drunk or high to know what they are doing, or to control their behavior or to provide consent,” as defined in a study Fenves had championed just days before his decision here.
Yet he invents a standard that could apply to everyone under even the slightest influence. Is he endangering every young man enrolled at UT? Yes, of course. Does anyone take this definition seriously as a workable standard? U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks sure doesn’t, calling the definition “absurd” in a hearing Friday.
Now, Sparks didn’t intervene and order the student who had filed the lawsuit to be readmitted for the fall semester, but he did say he wanted to hear from Fenves himself before resolving the matter. That’ll be sweet, as nothing about the university’s procedure resembles due process.
There are two lessons from these cases that seem obvious to me.
One, if your alma mater is involved in this sort of monstrosity (and it almost certainly is), it’s time to stop donating money. Heck, I’ll be skipping that USC-Texas rematch, for what it’s worth.
Two, conservatives should get over their inherited objections to “substantive due process.” Bork was wrong. It may sound like jargon, it may be an elastic term, susceptible to abuse by activist judges, but it’s really just a synonym for justice.
Vince Young lines up to score (Eric R from Scranton, PA/Creative Commons)