Nev Schulman Was Kicked Out Of College For Punching A Woman And Is Still Being A Creep About It
It’s recently come to light that Nev Schulman of the documentary-turned-reality show “Catfish” was expelled from Sarah Lawrence College for punching a female student in 2006. Schulman actually shares his side of the story in his new book, In Real Life: Love, Lies & Identity in the Digital Age, which was released exactly a week before he took to Twitter yesterday to speak out against domestic violence in the aftermath of Ray Rice’s dismissal from the NFL. (Coincidence? Some think not)
In In Real Life, Schulman describes a night at a dance called the Sleaze Ball (“a night of debauchery, drugs and girls dressed primarily in lingerie”) during which, by his account, he was provoked into hitting a female student. Schulman, who was a junior at the time, had been taking pictures of the event when he got into an altercation that’s fueled rumors for years. In the book, he recounts:
While I was photographing, an individual who didn’t like that I was taking pictures attempted to tackle me and smash my camera on the ground. Since the camera was attached to a strap around my neck, I found myself in a very unpleasant situation, much like a dog with a choke collar. In an effort to free myself, I punched the person and ran off; when I returned minutes later, I discovered that the short, stocky, crew-cut-styled individual I’d fought with was a woman – a fact that I hadn’t been aware of in the heat of the moment. The next thing I knew, I’d been arrested….The case was dismissed almost immediately, but Sarah Lawrence took to the opportunity to toss me out once and for all. I never even finished my junior year. My attitude was, ‘Never mind. No big deal. I had it coming.’ It didn’t matter much to me. But my mom was crushed. She’d already put her neck out for me more times that I could count, and now I was hurting her legacy at the school she loved so much. I’d finally screwed up so badly that it ended her relationship with Sarah Lawrence for good.
It’s hard not to read that total avoidance of responsibility and wonder whether something is missing from the story. Apparently, I’m not alone in getting that vibe, and a source who was there that night told Page Six:
“Nev stuck his camera in the face of two girls kissing and was sort of taking a picture and she shoved the camera away. He was very angry about this and he just decks her … There’s Nev’s version, which to be honest, I think is bullshit … He fucking hit her. He sort of winded up and boom.”
A different source, one who is seemingly close with Schulman, shared his own BS angle:
“I saw somebody with a white button down shirt, a black tie, attack him. This person probably had a good 30 or 40 lbs. on him. We both thought it was a man.” After the altercation, Schulman was “really nervous because…he was on disciplinary probation. He was really really worried. We decided to both walk back in so he could explain his side of the story. In the cafeteria, there were these bright lights, we see the person with an ice bag over their forehead. It took me a good five minutes to realize [it] was a woman. He had no idea it was a girl…The idea of him hitting a woman intentionally is just outrageous.”
Can I just inject here that even if Schulman had hit a man after all, that wouldn’t make him exempt for physically hurting a person? What kind of ridiculous defense is that? The woman Schulman punched (who asked to remain anonymous) spoke to NYMag.com’s Jessica Roy about what really happened, and it isn’t pretty:
To be quite clear, Schulman’s account of the events of that night is as suspect as all his other endeavors. I attended the dance he mentions and saw that he was taking pictures of queer couples dancing and kissing without their permission. I talked to the Student Affairs liaison at the event, who I knew from my work study job, but nothing was done about it. I confronted him, and asked him to stop taking pictures. I didn’t tackle him and I certainly didn’t choke him with his camera strap. I tapped his shoulder and he turned and hit me out of nowhere, I went down and he held me in a head lock and repeatedly punched me while I tried to get free. The impact broke my glasses and the rest of the night was a blur. I got off the floor, talked to police, then went home to sleep. When I woke up the next day, my face was bruised, I was hurt, and a friend urged me to go to the hospital, which I did.
From the hospital, I was directed to legal services and received legal advice. I was advised not to press charges because it would be a difficult case to win, as I didn’t have any broken bones and it would be his word against mine. I also felt intimidated because his lawyer had been waiting for me in the parking lot after my legal meeting. I didn’t talk to him but it was clear that Nev’s family had the means to drag me through a lengthy court case. As an LBGT finical aid student I didn’t think the chance of getting justice looked good.
Several other Sarah Lawrence students also spoke to NYMag.com and their stories lined up with exactly what the victim had said. It’s refreshing to hear that a school actually punished a student for behaving violently against women, since that almost never happens these days, but that didn’t happen without a major battle against Schulman’s denial machine. His mother, who he mentions in the book excerpt, is a powerful alumna of the college (and ironically, the co-president of an anti-violence nonprofit in New York City). She tried to keep Schulman on campus, and he wasn’t fully punished until students launched a letter-writing campaign to the administration pushing for his expulsion. Fast forward to yesterday, eight years after this incident, when Schulman tweeted a selfie in an elevator, his hand held dramatically over his heart (which he’s since deleted), writing:
Cowards make me sick. Real men show strength through patience & honor. This elevator is abuse free. #RESPECT
Oh, what a twisted internet web we weave. That weird display of douchery sent critics over the edge, so Schulman felt compelled make the tweet disappear and then release the following statement:
“In college, I was in a situation where I was forced to defend myself, after being suddenly attacked. Charges were brought, but my case was almost immediately dismissed as this was clearly a case of self-defense. My post was meant to raise awareness and support for everyone affected by the awful abuses of domestic violence.”
Once again, total evasion of responsibility. Sure, it could maybe be considered nice that he used his public position to speak out against domestic violence, but no amount of Twitter-based “advocacy” erases the hypocrisy happening here, especially when we consider the fact that he very likely intentionally sparked this controversy for publicity. Call me idealistic, but he could have used his past as a humble teaching moment to educate his followers on how inappropriate violence is in any context. Instead he just sounds like an abuser claiming they were “forced” to hurt someone and promising they’ll never do it again. Schulman is promoting a misogynistic, violent culture, whether he currently conducts that in his personal life or not. Former Sarah Lawrence administrator Ken Schneck confirmed to NYMag.com that Schulman’s involvement in the incident, and while he was unable to provide many details, I think his statement pretty much says it all:
“All I can say on the record, as the former Assistant Dean of Student Affairs, is that he was a condescending, entitled, reprehensible tool. :)”