David French has penned a must-read article on the tragedy that occurred after a sensitive young man was not afforded the opportunity to defend himself after an unusual accusation of sexual assault on a university campus was lodged.
French's piece revolves around the suicide of Thomas Klocke, a student at the University of Texas at Arlington. I am horrified when somebody's suicide is blamed on another person, on hazing or other actions that are harmful: no matter the pain inflicted, only one person can make that decision.
That said, Thomas Klocke's suicide must be viewed within the context of something rotten on American college campuses. Here is the story, as told by French:
On June 2, 2016, Klocke committed suicide — mere days after learning that he’d been disciplined for allegedly “harassing” a gay student. Last week, his family filed a lawsuit, laying out claims that — if proven true — should send chills down the spines of parents of male children. The competing factual accounts are simple and difficult to resolve. A gay student accused Klocke (who was straight) of typing “gays should die” into the search bar of his browser during a classroom conversation about privilege. When the gay student then typed into his own computer, “I’m gay.” Klocke then allegedly said that the gay student was a “faggot” and that he should consider killing himself.
Klocke’s account was diametrically opposed. He claimed that the gay student called him “beautiful.” Klocke then typed into his web browser, “Stop, I’m straight.” The gay student replied, “I’m gay” and then allegedly kept glancing at Klocke, who eventually got up and moved seats. The claims of what happened next are extraordinary. After the class, the gay student allegedly approached a senior administrator he knew, the university’s vice president of student affairs and dean of students. Rather than launching the school’s Title IX process for resolving complaints of sexual harassment or gender discrimination, the dean assisted the student in preparing a claim that circumvented normal procedures entirely.
The dean then allegedly assigned the case to the school’s associate director of academic integrity, who promptly issued an order prohibiting Klocke not only from contacting his accuser, he also prohibited him from attending the class where the incident occurred, and — crucially — from contacting any member of the class, directly or through any other person. Later, he reportedly barred Klocke’s father, an attorney, from attending a meeting regarding the case, and then “decided” the dispute without following university-prescribed procedures, without giving Klocke the opportunity to contact or call witnesses, and indeed without hearing from any witness who could corroborate either student’s claims. The school, for its part, denies that it departed from mandatory processes and asserts that it “followed its policies and procedures.” The associate director of academic integrity found Klocke responsible for “harassment,” placed him on probation for the remainder of his academic career at the university, and prohibited him from returning to the class where the incident occurred, though he could work on “group projects outside the classroom.”
As far as we know, Thomas Klocke was not guilty of any of the activities parents tell their male offspring to avoid in order not to offend the powers that be:
Parents of college boys sometimes take comfort that they can avoid the atmosphere of anti-male hysteria by asking them to follow some relatively simple, commonsense guidelines. Don’t drink too much. Don’t engage the hook-up culture. Use basic manners so that coarse talk isn’t misconstrued. No advice is foolproof, of course, but following those three guidelines — in addition to being virtuous on their own merits — will help avoid a multitude of problems.
The lawsuit filed by Thomas Klocke's family alleges that the university sought to gain prestige by aligning itself with the prevalent atmosphere that mandates punishment of the accused without allowing them to defend themselves.
A number of lawsuits filed by young men who have been punished by colleges and universities without being able to defend themselves have vindicated the accused.
Should the Klocke family's suit prevail, it can be at best cold comfort to a grieving family.
The Obama administration's infamous "Dear Colleagues" letter setting up guidelines for colleges to handle allegations of sexual misconduct may have appealed to a feminist base, but the harm has been documented.