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Learning the Wrong Lesson

Learning the Wrong Lesson

Perhaps the greatest indictment one can make of modern colleges and universities is simply to observe the almost unimaginable stupidity and lack of creativity in those who make the policy there. Evidently, the invaluable education, and being surrounded by so much diversity (I am told this is pedagogically beneficial) doesn’t have much of an effect on the school’s own administrators. One can only hope the effect is somewhat more positive on its students.

I had written about the incredible story of Faisal Jaswal — the cool, “progressive” dean of students at Bellevue College who stalked, manipulated, and raped an assistant for six years.

Despite being so cool! Despite being so progressive!

…but of course, that’s the point.

Talk is cheap. Any sociopath can say the right words. So what does Bellevue College do?

Obviously, more of the same:

The president of Bellevue College, Jerry Weber, released a series of emails to express his concerns and campus resources for those struggling. “I am sorry for additional distress this story may have caused. This email outlines preliminary steps we are taking to process, heal, and move forward as a community,” Weber wrote.

In one email, Bellevue College is working on a Campus Response Planning Team to help ensure healing and training are made possible for students and staff.

Bellevue College has received a $300,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Justice Office on Violence Against Women. This grant is to provide training around harassment, sexual assault and discrimination. Furthermore, this all helps to ensure there is a framework to coordinate with campus responses to associated partners of the Bellevue Police Department, LifeWire and King County Sexual Assault Resource Center, or KCSARC.

To paraphrase: Bellevue College is being rewarded for having allowed the rape of a staff member. They are being paid (that money is going to be spent on some faculty “expert,” I’m sure) to reaffirm their opposition to disrespecting women.

But perhaps I am not being fair. They are also engaging in a concerted effort to review and update their anti-discrimination policies and procedures.

However did we get along without these bureaucratic do-nothings before…

As someone who actually met with — and was in a way kind of at war with — Faisal, I can assure you that no one “respected women” and “opposed violence against women” more than Faisal. He knew the policy better than anyone (he was, in fact, the mastermind behind Bellevue College’s horrendous “Bias Incident” policy). Only a complete imbecile or a bureaucrat would think that rapists just need to be trained better on how not to rape people. For real predators, the red tape that is ostensibly created to keep people safer is just another tool for taking advantage of others. This was a phenomenon I also wrote about at the time, in a different but thematically related context.

This is why I wrote that students could expect more of the same in the future:

Getting rid of Faisal is not the end of the road for academic institutions like Bellevue College. This is the shape of things to come. Faisal was not a one-off; he was the natural candidate based upon the values which schools, in general, have chosen and the incentives they have created.

The administrators who run the school have one hammer: make the policy more strict and throw money at it. And every problem looks like a nail. If the problem is made worse by these — by making the source of the problem murky, or by simply incentivizing its continuation — then they don’t have any other answers. They don’t really “think,” they just kind of follow decision-making flow-charts; if A, then B; if B, then C, etc. Any problem that isn’t anticipated by the flow-chart — which is composed by faraway “experts,” probably in D.C. — is not the administrator’s responsibility or problem. Legally speaking, they “did all they could” if they follow their policies.

The fact that they’re doubling down on the exact same environmental qualities that allowed Faisal to thrive in and prey on the school for years in the first place doesn’t look like a smart move. It certainly isn’t going to work. It won’t protect students from rapists, and it will probably land a lot of innocent people in hot water over nothing.

But it will cover the asses of the administrators.

That’s more or less the kind of solution you can expect from our colleges and universities these days.

I think what’s most amusing about this story is how Irene Wright at the school paper wrote about Bellevue College’s response:

KIRO 7 reported that Bellevue College has been recently reviewing and making changes to our anti-discriminatory procedures. Bellevue College released news that “The Board will be conducting its final review of the revamped anti-discrimination policy at its regularly scheduled October meeting.”

Sayumi Irey, executive director of the Social Justice Leadership Institute and interim vice president for diversity at Bellevue College, sent out a campus wide email in late September stating the resources that Bellevue College provides for students and staff.

SJLI is part of the Office of Equity and Pluralism at Bellevue College, which provides support for the students, staff and community of Bellevue College through educational opportunities for all people of color, disabilities, different ethnic heritages, gender identities, orientation and limited financial resources.

Irey stated in an email to Bellevue College faculty and students, “In light of recent controversies appearing in the press, both locally and nationally, Bellevue College would like to reassure you that we do not tolerate any discrimination, including sexual harassment, on our campus.”

Links online to Title IX along with contact information for reporting these incidents were the top three ways listed. Public Safety, including Bellevue Police Department and Emotional Support Services for students and staff were also provided.

For many, this is an ongoing struggle to understand the high incidents of sexual assault, harassment, and discrimination. Bellevue College is taking an aggressive approach towards ensuring that BC community, students and faculty are protected, safe and able to access any and all resources.

If you aren’t reassured by that, well… I just don’t know what to say.

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