The online campaign appears to have been fueled by misperceptions about how the college's anonymous sexual misconduct reporting form works.
"Feminists at Occidental College created an online form to anonymously report rape/sexual assault," a user wrote in a Tuesday post on Reddit's Men's Rights group. "You just fill out a form and the person is called into the office on a rape charge. The 'victim' never has to prove anything or reveal their identity."There's also a controversy at Occidental about its failure to meet federal standards in reporting reports of sexual assault, so the school needs some kind of system for encouraging reports. But those who fear false reports are motivated to create pressure against any system that makes it too easy to make a false report. This particular protest, however, if it is what it appears to be, seems to entail making false reports as a way to demonstrate the harms of false reports.
In fact, the form was created by campus administrators in 2009 to encourage assault victims to come forward. Allegations reported to the site are reviewed by administrators and, if they occur on or near campus, should be reported to federal authorities in annual crime statistics. The anonymous reports can be used to track patterns and make inquiries but do not lead to formal investigations, Tranquada said.
It's possible that the reports from men against women are not false, but are reports of conduct that fits the schools definition of sexual assault but that men normally refrain from reporting. I'm thinking of unwanted fondling, hugging, and kissing, which women may impose on men, assuming the men must really want it and/or counting on the tendency of men to silently endure these low-level assaults.
But according to The L.A. Times, a spate of reports came in right after some character on Reddit posted:
"Step one: Get a list of every 'Feminist' at Occidental College who supported this system. Step two: Anonymously report them for rape," wrote user WhiteThrone in a Reddit post Wednesday night. "Step three: Watch them squirm as their lives are hanging in the balance over a false rape charge. Step four: Shutdown the BS online form."I'd like to know if the reports were of rape or — what I assume is the case — sexual assault. And were the reports filed against women who were quickly identifiable as feminists? I do think WhiteThrone's comment is satirical and not an actual call to action. Some idiots/activists might have thought it actually would be a good idea, but again, I don't know. There could have been some intelligent discussion about women who have engaged in the kind of physical aggression that, done by a man, could lead to a report of a sexual assault, and a decision to overcome the usual male reluctance to say a female has touched him without his consent.