Witt: Yale’s sexual misconduct policies “nearly ruined my life”

Updated: Nov. 4

In a Boston Globe column published Monday evening, Patrick Witt ’12 condemned Yale’s sexual misconduct policies.

Witt, a initial-yr student at Harvard Law College, was formerly a Yale football quarterback and Rhodes Scholar finalist who created nationwide headlines in 2012 when The New York Times reported that he was the subject of a sexual misconduct complaint. In Monday’s column, Witt protested Harvard’s new sexual harassment policy and aligned himself with 28 members of the Harvard faculty who have publicly derided its adoption as effectively. According to Witt, Harvard’s new policy is quite similar to Yale’s tips.

“I provide my own story as a genuine-lifestyle example of how this well-meant policy can produce disastrous consequences if it remains detached from the most fundamental aspects of fairness and due process that form the basis of our legal technique,” he wrote in the column. “The destructive power that Yale’s and now Harvard’s new sexual misconduct policies wield is immense and grossly underestimated.”

Yale administrators reached on Monday evening, including University-Wide Committee on Sexual Misconduct Chair David Publish and University Title IX Coordinator and Deputy Provost Stephanie Spangler, declined to comment at the time. Assistant Dean of Pupil Affairs Melanie Boyd and Michael Della Rocca, the UWC Chair in 2012, could not be reached for comment. Former dean of Yale School Mary Miller declined to comment.

Whilst at Yale, Witt was celebrated in the media when he determined to play in the Harvard-Yale Game alternatively of participating in an interview for the Rhodes Scholarship. In the column, Witt mentioned that the exact same day that his variety as a Rhodes finalist was announced, his ex-girlfriend filed an informal complaint towards him with the UWC.

Anonymous sources informed the Rhodes Scholarship and his long term employer of the informal complaint. As a outcome, his long term employer rescinded its offer and Witt withdrew his Rhodes candidacy. The informal complaint, Witt wrote, price him his status, credibility and career possibilities.

In his column, Witt professed innocence but said he was not afforded the opportunity to clear his title because his accuser only filed an informal complaint. Below the informal complaint, no energy was manufactured to uncover proof to substantiate the complainant’s claims or describe his side, Witt said.

Witt claimed that even when he requested that the UWC pursue truth-discovering, the University told him that the complaint’s informal standing meant that it was needless to seek out evidence to clear his title. Witt stated he could not request a formal complaint that would consequence in an independent truth-locating report.

According to UWC procedures, an informal complaint may only include restricted investigation. Informal complaints are not adjudicated, and documentation is preserved only in confidential information.

Former Community and Consent Educator Evan Walker-Wells ’14 extra that the informal complaint process is a non-adversarial process designed to give both complainants and respondents a number of approaches of engaging and approaching sexual misconduct — an alternative to the usually much more lengthy formal complaint process.

An informal complaint does not presume guilt and is not recorded on a student’s permanent record, Walker-Wells stated. UWC procedures also state that any resolution of the complaint for the complainant need to also be acceptable to the respondent.

Walker-Wells mentioned Witt has mischaracterized the UWC’s informal complaint procedure.

“I think individuals who try and make Yale’s informal complaint approach up to be one thing that denies men and women or denies respondents any sort of correct [is a misunderstanding] of the complaint process,” Walker-Wells mentioned. “It does not impact someone’s academic profession. It’s just about discovering an avenue with reduce stakes and anything that will give meaningful fulfillment.”

Nevertheless, Mark Magazu, president of Atlas Techniques, a sports and entertainment agency that represented Witt at the time, explained that when he handled the case, Yale’s policy did not record Witt’s viewpoint. Consequently, the informal policy carries an assumption of guilt, Magazu stated.

Although Magazu explained he believed the policy may possibly be well-intentioned, he stated it has the prospective to do a lot more harm to involved college students and sacrifices respondents — a refrain echoed in Witt’s article.

“All sides want to be heard, data need to be kept, they have to be confidential and you can’t place people in a place in which things can get out of management and there’s no method to stage to in which everybody can be heard,” Magazu said. “Otherwise you get one thing like this that takes place.”

Harvard Law professor Janet Halley, a single of the signatories of the letter that protests Harvard’s new sexual harassment measures, mentioned Witt’s case appropriately illustrates the coalition’s issues. Halley stated it is feasible that the series of occasions Witt skilled could arise underneath the Harvard’s new sexual harassment and carry out guidelines.

Witt’s column was published amid renewed discussion about Yale’s sexual misconduct policies. On Saturday, The New York Times reported that Provost Benjamin Polak modified a UWC recommendation to eliminate Michael Simons from his publish as cardiology chief following Simons was accused of sexual harassment in 2013.

Stephanie Addenbrooke and Victor Wang contributed reporting.

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