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When Morgan met Kai—
and filed a Title IX complaint

Kai and Morgan, fictitious Yale students, are engaged in a fictitious sexual encounter. It begins with mutual enthusiasm, but at some point Kai moves into territory that Morgan has neither agreed to nor protested against. So Morgan files a fictitious complaint with the University-wide Committee on Sexual Misconduct (UWC). The committee finds that Kai crossed the line into nonconsensual sex and issues a written reprimand.

This scenario—spelled out in a bit more detail—is one of eight hypothetical situations released by Yale in an attempt to clarify how it responds to sexual misconduct. Six of the scenarios involve nonconsensual sex, with at least three of the fictional offenders facing expulsion. (Officials stress that, to preserve confidentiality, the scenarios are not based on actual complaints.)

Deputy Provost Stephanie Spangler released the scenarios last night in response to outrage about the university's most recent semiannual report on real-life sexual misconduct complaints. That report, published in August, notes five cases in which the UWC found sufficient evidence that a student had nonconsensual sex with another student. None of the offenders was expelled.

Critics, including Yale alumni, called that coddling rapists. Yale initially responded by pointing out that its definition of consent requires affirmative, unambiguous agreement at every step—not just the absence of a "no"—and that the UWC judges incidents based on the "preponderance of the evidence," a far lower burden of proof than in a criminal case.

Still, some observers wondered: what kind of nonconsensual sex deserves only a reprimand?

Now they have an answer, in scenario #7, starring Kai and Morgan. 

But it's just one answer, out of eight scenarios, which leaves questions in the minds of Emma Goldberg ’16 and others.

"The scenarios are a great step forward," says Goldberg, a founding member of the new group Students Against Sexual Violence at Yale (SASVY). But she and other SASVY members agree that they “don’t reveal enough about thought process that goes into determining penalties, particularly with reprimands,” Goldberg says in a phone interview.

The UWC has expelled only one student for nonconsensual sex since Yale created it in 2011, Goldberg says. Yet most of the hypothetical scenarios end in expulsion. She'd like to know "what are the other variables that impact” the penalty, and hopes to see additional scenarios in which nonconsensual sex would warrant only a reprimand.

Filed under sexual misconduct, Title IX
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