‘Power or authority’ not limited to supervision and evaluation
The University of Missouri believes that asking someone on a date can violate Title IX in certain situations. Its officials can’t agree on which situations, however.
In a motion for summary judgment filed on Christmas Eve, Jeremy Rowles shared excerpts of depositions with Mizzou officials from his federal lawsuit against the public university.
They suggest that male students should avoid asking out female students at all, particularly when the male is physically larger than the female.
A bit of background: Judge Brian Wimes greenlit the doctoral student’s lawsuit this summer, saying there was no evidence that Rowles had done anything more than make his dance fitness instructor, student Annalise Breaux, “uncomfortable” by asking her out in spring 2016.
There’s also a racial element to the case: Rowles is black and Breaux is white. Rowles got his four-year suspension halved after he told the taxpayer-funded institution, best known nationally for its racial protests in 2015, that his punishment was “part of a larger pattern and practice” of racial discrimination.
Judge Wimes let Rowles (below) pursue racial discrimination claims against individual officials, saying they should have known that “applying the same disciplinary standards differently to students of different races was unreasonable.”
‘Could apply to any situation with any man and any woman’
The depositions of Mizzou officials show that they have contrasting and novel definitions of key terms in the university’s policies on sexual harassment and stalking “on the basis of sex.”
Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Cathy Scroggs, who resigned from the university after the 2016-2017 school year, said that asking someone on a date more than once counted as an “unwanted sexual advance.”
Breaux did not give Rowles a firm “no” the first time, however. She only told him to “stop making romantic advances” after subsequent requests, but encouraged him to keep taking classes at the recreation center. When he kept taking her class, Mizzou accused Rowles of sexually harassing other female rec center employees.
Asked how Rowles used his “power or authority” to sexually harass Breaux – a phrase widely understood to mean instructors asking out students, or superiors asking out subordinates – Scroggs said he used his “physical size.”
Asked to clarify that “person of authority” doesn’t necessary mean a “teacher or boss,” Scroggs replied: “Well, I suppose it could; but in this case, no, I didn’t interpret it that way.”
Is anything fucking permissible anymore?
What a joyous world we live in...