University administrators have been called in to stanch the wounds:
Eight law-school students at American University texted in a group chat, criticizing both a leaked Supreme Court draft opinion to overturn Roe v. Wade as well as people who backed the planned reversal of the landmark abortion ruling. Three weeks later, the students were notified they were being investigated for harassment.
On May 25, American’s Equity & Title IX Office sent an email to the students saying their messages might have violated the university’s Discrimination and Non-Title IX Sexual Misconduct policy. The Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression, known as FIRE, published the email on Friday with identifying information redacted — the same day that the Supreme Court issued its anticipated ruling overturning Roe v. Wade.
The investigation was sparked by a complaint filed by a student in the group chat who identified himself as “a Greek Orthodox Christian and Republican/Moderate-Conservative,” according to the university’s email. The student accused his peers of sending “harassing and threatening messages” in a class GroupMe chat that targeted him for his “political affiliation and religious beliefs.”
Let’s take a look at the hate speech that triggered this Title IX investigation. (The complaining student’s texts are highlighted in blue. The accused students’ texts are highlighted in yellow).
Keep in mind that all this happened in a PRIVATE GROUP TEXT CHAT, not say in a classroom or even out in a hallway at the law school between classes. To be clear it would still be outrageous to investigate these students if this conversation had happened in those sorts of contexts, but the private group text chat setting lends an especially Kafakesque/Orwellian touch to the proceedings.
And for those people who will minimize this kind of thing by pointing out that the university administration is purportedly just going through a pro forma process before dismissing an obviously absurd complaint, that “pro forma process” will at the very least have to be disclosed by all eight of the accused law students to the various state bars they apply to for admission, many of which may very well launch investigations of their own as part of the bars’ “character and fitness” evaluation of the candidates (Being accused of legally actionable harassment of a fellow law student is a very big deal in this context in particular).
And of course that’s assuming that the process will turn out to be pro forma, which is a big assumption under current cultural and political conditions, in which Title IX investigators need to be very careful to show their investigations are shall we say fair and balanced if they want to keep their jobs.
In sum I’m not saying this is as bad as that Oberlin student complaining about the food in the cafeteria being cultural appropriation and also sucking but it’s pretty bad.