Dankprofessor’s Weblog

A weblog examining sexual politics in higher education and beyond.

Colorado College students protest suspension for “sexual misconduct”

The Gazette of Colorado Springs reports that two Colorado College hockey players – Cody Lampl and Derek Patrosso – suspended in December for unexplained reasons told The Gazette that the penalties were for sexual misconduct and lying. 

Excerpts from this article follow. This Colorado College case provides insight as to how colleges handle issues relating to “sexual misconduct” which “bypass” formal involvement of the criminal justice system. The impact on students affected by this process is clearly given in this article. Readers are encouraged to click the article link and scroll down the article and review reader input.

Lampl and Patrosso said they are innocent of sexual misconduct. Lampl was suspended until 2009. Patrosso returned to school and the hockey team March 12.

Patrosso will try to help CC win a national title. Lampl plans to return to school but is angry that the college’s handling of his suspension has wrongly branded him a “rapist.”

“That’s not who I am and what I did,” Lampl told The Gazette. Friends and family wrote affidavits in support of Lampl when he unsuccessfully appealed the suspension.

The Pathfinder, CC’s student handbook, gives school President Dick Celeste and school administrators wide latitude in punishing students for conduct they deem contrary to the best interests of the school.

The handbook says, in part, “Colorado College reserves the right to suspend or dismiss any student whose conduct is regarded as being in conflict with the best interests of the college or in violation of its Code of Conduct.”

That doesn’t mean interested parties always agree with the college’s decisions, and Lampl said he thought his punishment was unfair given his version of the events.

Lampl, 21, said he, an 18-year-old recruit and a 19-year-old female CC student engaged in consensual sex after a party Nov. 18.

The woman could not be reached for comment. She has not filed a complaint with Colorado Springs police. Her parents said she was unavailable and they would all like to move on. The Gazette usually does not name people who might have been victims of sexual assault without their consent.

The recruit declined comment on the incident, except to say he had the woman’s consent. “Yes, definitely,” he said. The Gazette is not naming the recruit because he is not a CC student and not subject to CC discipline.
A few hours after the threesome, Patrosso and the woman had consensual sex, Patrosso said.When CC officials learned of the episode, Lampl said, they summoned Lampl and Patrosso for a meeting with Celeste. According to Lampl, Celeste said: “What you guys did is wrong. This isn’t what we do at CC.”

Initially, Lampl said, he and Patrosso tried to keep the recruit out of the discussion. That eventually led to the accusation of lying.

Subsequently, Lampl said, he, Patrosso and the woman scheduled a second meeting with Celeste to try to refute the suggestion that the woman did not consent to sex. Lampl said that when they arrived, Celeste was not there. CC attorney Chris Melcher and CC’s sexual assault response coordinator Heather Horton met the three students.
Lampl said Melcher and Horton insisted on meeting with the students individually.

Lampl said he, Patrosso and the woman talked after the three individual meetings. Lampl said the woman told him that Melcher and Horton asked her if she consented to sex and she told them she had.

Asked by The Gazette to describe the conversation with the woman and the recruit in which consent was given, Lampl said, “We were talking. She was like, ‘I really want to hook up with you.’ And I’m like, ‘Well, my friend’s here with me.’ And she’s like, ‘No, no. I want him to stay,’ and stuff like that.”

No charges have been filed with the Colorado Springs Police Department, but Detective Payton Patterson spoke with CC administrators to check on rumors of sexual assault involving student athletes.

…on page 54 of The Pathfinder, in the section on sexual misconduct, the policy says, “The college reserves the right to take whatever measures it deems necessary and appropriate to respond to a charge of sexual misconduct in order to protect students’ safety, physical and mental wellbeing, and individual rights. Such measures include, but are not limited to, immediate modification of living arrangements, summary removal from campus pending a hearing, and reporting to the local police.”

CC’s Turnis declined to explain why the school did not invoke its right to report the information in this case to police.

Patterson recorded his phone conversation with Melcher and then wrote in his report that Melcher told him there was not a problem.

“Chris Melcher told me that there is nothing to hide here,” Patterson wrote. “No one has claimed and no one has brought to his attention that the alleged crime occurred. . . . Chris Melcher said he will assure me and the folks that I will be talking to that no one has brought any information to their attention that indicates or even suggests (inaudible segment) and if that changes, ‘I will call you or I won’t call you. I’ll tell the student to file a complaint.'”

Horton said the school’s general policy has “three classes of behavior” that could be deemed inappropriate and applies to all members of the CC community.

“The first one is just unwanted sexual contact,” Horton said. “That can obviously be a fairly broad range of things, from unwanted touch all the way up to unwanted intercourse. The second class of behavior is behavior of a sexual nature that does not involve physical contact, so that might be things like lewd or harassing kinds of sexual statements or Peeping Tom kind of behavior, those kinds of things. And then, the third class of behavior is called intimate partner violence. So, that’s violence that occurs within the context of a couple relationship.”
Horton and the school’s handbook stress the issue of “active consent.”

The school’s sexual misconduct policy states in part that, “all sexual contact between students must be with each person’s active consent. ‘Active consent’ means that each person involved in sexual contact not only agrees to the sexual activity but also agrees to such activity freely and knowingly. A person who has been threatened or whose judgment is substantially impaired by drugs or alcohol or by other physical or mental impairment cannot, by definition, give consent to sexual contact. It is the responsibility of the initiator of sexual contact to obtain consent from the other person and to determine whether such consent is freely and knowingly given.”

Lampl said he had been drinking at the party, but he said he thought the woman was coherent when the key conversation occurred. Eight people who attended the party signed affidavits in support of Lampl. The eight included Lampl’s parents, five CC friends (including two women) and a non-CC friend. He said all of them attested to the woman’s behavior and level of coherence the night of the party.

Lampl said school leaders did not want to accept that the woman would willingly consent to, much less suggest, sex with multiple partners.

“I’m not going to apologize for that because then it looks like I did something,” Lampl said in the interview with The Gazette. “Why would I do that? I would rather not come back here. I’m not going to bite the bullet when it comes to being perceived as a rapist. Even though they said, ‘There’s no rape here’ – but the words they use imply that. That’s scum of the earth to me. That’s not who I am and what I did.”
Prior to the suspension, Lampl was on track to graduate with degrees in history and education.

—–
If you wish, you can write to me directly at dankprofessor@msn.com
Guest commentaries should also be submitted for consideration
to the same email address.

Barry M. Dank aka the dankprofessorTM
© Copyright 2008

March 21, 2008 Posted by | Colorado College, consensual relationships, ethics, higher education, rape, sex, sexual policing, sexual politics | 1 Comment

Contracted for love

And the dankprofessor does not have in mind anything to do with the Spitzer case. Love contracts in the workplace have become increasing used in the context of the efforts to bans consensual relationship being a dismal failure. A summary of the key aspects of love contracts as presented by attorney Joseph W. Gagnon follows and then I will have some comments as to the applicability of these love contracts to the university.

The essential elements. Although the precise language will vary, an effective love contract should contain the following disclosures: 1. The relationship is consensual and is not based on intimidation, threat, coercion or harassment; 2. The employees have received, read, understood and agree to abide by the company’s policy against harassment and discrimination; 3. The employees agree to act appropriately in the workplace and avoid any behavior that is offensive to others; 4. The employees agree not to let their relationship affect their work or the work of their co-employees; 5. Neither employee will bestow upon the other any favoritism or preferential treatment; 6. Either employee may end the relationship at any time and no retaliation of any kind will result; 7. The human resources department will include its contact information in case either employee feels the relationship is affecting his or her work; and 8. The employees have had sufficient time to read the document and ask questions before executing it of his or her own free will.

. Unenforceability as a contract is a nonissue. Whether the document is an enforceable contract almost doesn’t matter, because the real strength of a love contract lies in the nature of the acknowledgements made. It shows that the employer took affirmative steps to maintain a workplace free from sexual harassment and retaliation, and it serves as powerful evidence that, at least at the time of execution, the relationship was consensual. Finally, it reaffirms that both employees are aware of the existence of a policy prohibiting sexual harassment, discrimination and retaliation and their obligation to abide by it.

. A love contract will not prevent all litigation, but it will assist an employer’s defense. Like any other step an employer takes, a love contract can be a strong deterrent to employee claims, but it will not prevent all future litigation arising out of a workplace relationship. Nevertheless, a love contract will, if nothing else, lay the groundwork for a solid defense should litigation ensue. For example, an aggrieved employee can still claim he or she suffered retaliation after a breakup, but a love contract confirming that the relationship began consensually should support a defense that the perceived post-relationship retaliation was based on personal animosity rather than gender-based discrimination.

. Considerations before utilizing love contracts. Although not a concern in Texas, a GC should confirm whether privacy laws of the jurisdiction where the business operates prohibit or limit employer monitoring of workplace relationships. Also consider how to present the idea of a love contract to a couple; unless a relationship is brought to the employer’s attention, the employer must exercise sound judgment in deciding when to address what a manager’s own observations may lead him or her to suspect is a budding relationship. Decide in advance what to do if one of the participants denies the relationship or refuses to sign the document. Finally, since there is no one way of developing an effective love contract, a GC should retain experienced labor and employment counsel to draft the appropriate language that meets the particular needs and objectives of the GC’s company.

Properly implemented and appropriately drafted, love contracts will reduce the likelihood of litigation arising from workplace relationships. In the event of litigation, an effective love contract will bolster an employer’s defenses and increase the prospect for prevailing on summary judgment or at trial.

For the dankprofessor, love contracts as described by Joseph Gagnon definitely appear to be applicable to the university. However, I have not been able to find a single university which has employed a love contract or seriously considered a love contract to deal with student professor consensual sexual relationships. I can only speculate why such is the case. And my speculations are governed by the reasons given by the prohibitors of student professor relationships.

Most likely a reason that would be given to oppose these contracts is that it is impossible to stop prejudicial grading by the professor. When I have been challenged about my own past practices as a professor and I indicate that my grading of the loved one was not impacted by our relationship, many people state that they just do not believe me; they indicate it is an impossibility. Another reason might be that the underlying framework for these bans is that differential power precludes consent and therefore as a result of this situation the student is in a state of diminished capacity and could not consent to a sexual relationship with the professor and would not be able to engage in consent as part of a love contract.

Such are the hypotheticals. What I believe is the major reason for no consideration in the university place is simply that the banning agenda is anti-sexual, and the application of a love contract would function to legitimize these sexual relationships. In the workplace, concern about sexual relationships is generally of a pragmatic kind- avoid litigation. Of course, those companies which have an anti-sexual agenda would not embrace a love contract.

And one additional observation by the dankprofessor, love contracts would seem to me to be a misnomer at least as applied to the university. Universities are not attempting to ban love; their attempt is to ban sex, and I cannot recall a single university policy where love is mentioned. The professor who falls in love with a student and the loves remains a secret love has really no place to turn in the context of attempting to engage in non-prejudicial grading. Can one seriously entertain a professor being excused to grade a student because he or she is in love with the student? Of course, those most vociferously advocating these bans, committed campus purity feminists, have dehumanized male professors to such a degree that they do not consider them to be capable of love. They see them in terms of being lechers, predators, seducers, harassers, abusers, rapists, but as lovers, I have my doubts.

I hope to have more posts on love contracts.  Input from blog readers on love contracts will be greatly appreciated!

—–
If you wish, you can write to me directly at dankprofessor@msn.com
Guest commentaries should also be submitted for consideration
to the same email address.

Barry M. Dank aka the dankprofessorTM
© Copyright 2008

March 21, 2008 Posted by | consensual relationships, corporate dating bans, ethics, fraternization, higher education, litigation, love, sex, sexual politics, student professor dating | Leave a comment

   

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