Can male students expect a fair process when a member of the school’s department responsible for handling sexual assault accusations has posted anti-male sentiments online?
This year Northwestern University, above, hired Kate Harrington-Rosen as its Equity Outreach and Education Specialist for the Office of Title IX/Equal Opportunity and Access. In this capacity, she is responsible for “developing and delivering training for students, faculty, and staff on Title IX policy and procedures, as well as tracking and assessing education and prevention efforts across campus,” according to the Evanston, Ill., school.
Her “about” page on Northwestern’s website mentions Harrington-Rosen’s web sideline the Not Sorry Project, which the school said aims “to give space and voice to women, femmes, and other marginalized groups.” But the Not Sorry Project includes content that could be considered anti-male.
The project, active on Facebook and other social media, features artful posts on what people are “not sorry for” -- including dissing men. They are typically described with the term “cis” or variants to mean males who identify with their birth sex.
In one anonymous post, the words “I’m not sorry that cishet alpha men are trash to me until proven innocent” appear over a background image of flowers.
Harrington-Rosen and her co-founder express similar views in the “Friday Not Sorry List” jointly credited to them. In one dated July 7, the pair wrote: “I’m not sorry (or sad) that I have very few cis male friends.” On July 14, they wrote: “I’m not sorry that none of my friends are cis straight men.”
On Aug. 18, the two wrote in their Friday list: “I’m not sorry for capitalizing on your white guilt to get you to give money to causes I care about.”
On Sept. 15, the two wrote: “I’m not sorry I’m skeptical of procedure and neutrality.”
Other posts express similar “not sorry” views about general issues. But there are no posts showing negativity toward women specifically.
Harrington-Rosen did not respond to RealClearInvestigation’s inquiries, nor did Northwestern respond to a request for comment.
At the university, Harrington-Rosen is not responsible for investigating or resolving complaints of sexual assault, but her position clearly involves her in campus-response protocols. She is a trainer for those on campus required to report such incidents and instructs students on the hot-button topic.
While few would disagree that Harrington-Rosen has a right to express herself in her personal projects, the anti-male sentiments could become a problem in lawsuits against the university if students accused of sexual assault argue that they have been treated unfairly. Attorneys who specialize in these lawsuits look for any evidence of anti-male bias on campus and within the Title IX office to use against the school. For example, a lawsuit against Washington & Lee University survived a motion to dismiss because the accused student claimed the woman who investigated the accusation told students that “regret equals rape.”
In that case, it was the investigator who made the comments, but attorney Eric Rosenberg tells RealClearInvestigations that posts like the ones displayed by Harrington-Rosen would also help in lawsuits against schools.
“If my client sued Northwestern, his complaint would absolutely reference the university's utilization of a Title IX trainer who believed some Northwestern ‘men’ were ‘trash’ until they proved to her that they were ‘innocent,’" Rosenberg said. “For, this trainer's statements suggest Northwestern allowed anti-male bias to corrupt training provided to Northwestern adjudicators in Title IX cases.”
Northwestern's profile of Harrington-Rosen also suggests bias against accused students, referring more than once to a person alleging rape as a "survivor" before any investigation has taken place. "Kate has found that mandatory reporting, in general, is a source of anxiety for many people, who fear that the survivor will lose all agency once a report is written," her bio reads.
Northwestern is currently facing other criticism for its handling of film-studies professor Laura Kipnis, who in 2015 was subjected to a Title IX investigation after writing an essay critical of the school’s sexual misconduct policies. Kipnis’s accusers, two graduate students, claim her essay created a “hostile environment” on campus. Kipnis was cleared of any offense, and went on to write a book about her experience, called “Unwanted Advances.” The book led to another Title IX complaint against her by the school, which asked her to explain statements in her book and reveal her sources. Again she was cleared of wrongdoing.