Men's Rights Group Trolls Occidental College's Sexual Assault Reporting Site
In the latest installment of “Disheartening News About College Sexual Assault,” a men's rights group has taken credit for spamming Occidental College’s online sexual assault form in an attempt to shutdown the reporting system. Officials from the Los Angeles liberal arts college report that the online form, which allows victims of sexual assault to submit anonymous complaints, received over 400 assault reports in 36 hours. From the nature of the reports —which contain fairly offensive and sexist language — it became clear pretty quickly that the claims were bogus.
“When reports are coming in saying the anonymous reporter was assaulted by feminists or somebody named ‘Fatty McFatFat,’ that would lead anyone with common sense to suspect that these were not good faith reports,” said Jim Tranquada, the school’s director of communications.
Occidental College has received flack recently for its treatment of sexual assault claims; in early December, the L.A. Times reported that the college failed to disclose over two dozen incidents of sexual assault in 2010 and 2011, and did not report another 27 in 2012 — a claim that, if true, would land the college in serious trouble with federal law (the college is the subject of an ongoing investigation by the U.S. Department of Education). In April 2013, female students, faculty, and alumni filed a 250-page federal complaint about the college's manner of dealing with sexual assault allegations.
In response to the onslaught of complaints, the college debuted its anonymous online reporting form in summer 2012. The form, the college assures, is not used to bring blind disciplinary action against any person named — whether they are a victim or a witness. Instead, Occidental uses the form to garner a better idea of the pervasiveness of sexual assault on the campus. From the form's website:
This form should be used by members of the Occidental College community who have experienced or have been witness to sexual violence (sexual assault, rape or sexual battery). The information will be used to identify and address troubling trends. If a perpetrator is named, a member of the Dean of Students Office will meet with that person to share that the person was named in an anonymous report, review the Sexual Misconduct Policy, and inform the person that if the allegations are true, the behavior needs to cease immediately. Information shared in this form alone will not result in anyone going through the grievance process.
But the form hasn't been without controversy: just last week, students questioned the anonymity of the form, claiming that the school was tracking students who filed allegations and even called them in for questioning. Occidental denies these claims, stating, "Occidental makes no attempt to identify people who file an anonymous report."
The controversy around the form didn't end there, however. Instead, it reached a fever pitch Tuesday, when a Redditor in the sub-Reddit "Men's Rights" created a post under the headline: Feminists at Occidental College created an online form to anonymously report rape/sexual assault. You just fill out a form and the person is called into the office on a rape charge. The "victim" never has to prove anything or reveal their identity. Users implored other men's rights activists to fight this unfair system of sexual assault reporting (under the false pretense that the school uses the form to bring disciplinary action against anyone named in sexual assault claims, which is, to repeat it again, false) by flooding the system with false claims of sexual assault by "feminists."
Anti-misogynist writer David Futrelle chronicled the responses on his blog Man Boobz, posting a number of screenshots of various Redditors bragging about their false reports.
<img alt="" src="http://lovelace-media.imgix.net/uploads/163/b45aa850-4afb-0131-9c69-62e92e6cda2e.png?w=600" class="article-body-image" title="Image: http://lovelace-media.imgix.net/uploads/163/b45aa850-4afb-0131-9c69-62e92e6cda2e.png?w=600"/>
Occidental students are, understandably, disappointed by the misuse of their online reporting form.
"This is typically a group of men who are obsessed with false accusations of rape and yet here they are producing hundreds of accusations that would make it much more difficult for the school to determine what are legitimate claims,” Danielle Dirks of the Oxy Sexual Assault Coalition told Los Angeles' local CBS station.
The men's rights activists, however, have failed to shutdown the "BS online form." Tranquada insists that even with the increased volume, the school will continue to comb through all reports submitted to find the honest reports hidden among the trolls.