There’s only one problem with this depiction of the mattress protest to get a male student thrown out of Columbia as some great liberal, revolutionary strike — the male student in question has not been found guilty of assaulting Sulkowicz. Her alleged assailant (many in the media forget to use the word “alleged”) was brought before a disciplinary hearing at Columbia and found “not responsible” for the things Sulkowicz accused him of. Sulkowicz later filed a complaint with the police but, according to the New York Times, “didn’t follow through with the necessary steps to prosecute the student.” So, she and her cheerleaders want a student who has not been convicted of assault to be expelled from the university. They want a man to be punished on the word of one accuser, which is surely behavior more befitting a Stalinist tyranny than a liberal-arts college.
At Columbia, I was startled by some of the mob-like invective falling from the mouths of otherwise bright, well-read students. One group of female students said “the rapist” must be expelled. But he hasn’t been found guilty of committing rape, I said. “We know he committed the rape,” one said, with the kind of steely-eyed conviction that recalled (admittedly in a much less lethal context) how KKK members once “knew” that their black victims were guilty of raping local white women.
A male student told me my insistence that individuals suspected of a crime must be fairly tried and found convincingly guilty before we ruin their lives — and being expelled from a prestigious university for rape would undoubtedly be life-ruining — was evidence that I had fallen for the “liberal paradigm” of justice, which tends to benefit white, well-off men.