Rapist List Surfaces At The University Of Chicago

A group of students at the University of Chicago posted what they titled the “Hyde Park List“: a list of students accused of sexual harassment and rape, coded “red” or “orange” depending on the severity of the accused’s alleged behavior. UChicago is one of the schools currently being investigated for Title IX violations for mishandling campus rape investigations. Jezebel’s Kate Dries wrote a detailed account of some of the cases that spurred the Department of Education’s investigation at UChicago with an analysis of the university’s culture this June.

I attended the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools for middle and high school, so I spent a great deal of my formative years on campus. I’m not shocked at the allegations, the investigation, or the publication of this “rapist list.” U of C is a place of extraordinary privilege, and many of its students truly don’t believe that either rape happens, or that they are capable of raping someone, because the school’s culture feeds back to its students that they are intellectually enlightened (a sentiment that Dries expresses in her piece, as well). Add on to that the apparently tremendous mismanagement of rape investigations by the administration, and, well, again, I’m not shocked about the investigation.

It’s striking that the two universities at which “rapist lists” have appeared — Columbia University and the University of Chicago — are also tied for fourth-best university in the country, and are sort of aspirational schools, attending which, again, comes along with a fair deal of privilege and entitlement. It sucks that the Department of Education investigation is going to take as long as it will. It sucks that the administrations at those schools are mishandling rape cases. It sucks that there’s not a better system in place that will protect rape victims and bring them justice.

But does it strike anyone else as even slightly patronizing that a group of vigilante students has taken it upon themselves to “protect” the rest of the student body from a short list of students they accuse of rape? I believe them. I will believe that there is a group of students that has been hurt by another group of students. But I have no real idea who either group of students are, what the University has done to mishandle the victims’ complaints, and I don’t know what the list truly accomplishes to protect the victims. Saying “avoid these people and you won’t get raped” is a fallacy not least of all because victims, by definition, can’t prevent their rapes. Well beyond the fact that if the anonymous authors of the list are violating policy and could get pretty severely punished if they were to be found out, the list is authored under dubious premises: It’s not an act that’s protective of the community. It’s an expression of (merited!) personal frustration. But it’s not productive. It won’t strongarm the University into handling rape cases any faster or any better, and it won’t protect other students.

There are better ways to handle it, including continued communication with the administration, seeking legal advice, or hell, even carrying a mattress around. Justice is a community matter, and it’s an extension of privilege to believe that it’s up to you to dole it out.

[Columbia Lion]
[U.S. News & World Report]