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Tensions boil at KC Johnson lecture on campus sexual assault

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As Brooklyn College history professor KC Johnson was about to begin a lecture on campus sexual assault and its effects on due process Monday night, student activists conducted a silent protest against his views.

As Johnson approached the podium, members of Student Union and F*ckrapeculture stood from their seats and turned to the crowd of around 70 people in the Baker Center. They wore hand-made shirts saying “RAPE IS REAL, THIS IS BULLSH*T”, and some members held signs saying “SEX WITHOUT CONSENT IS ALWAYS RAPE” and “1 in 5 women will be SEXUALLY ASSAULTED during college”.

The protesters sat down after some members of the audience audibly complained that they could not see Johnson and after a warning of their removal by the police.

Johnson’s lecture, which was part of the George Washington Forum, argued that as universities across the nation change their sexual assault policies to help survivors of sexual assault on campus, due process toward those that are accused have been diminished. He most prominently cited the Duke Lacrosse Case of 2006, which Johnson wrote about in his book Until Proven Innocent: Political Correctness and the Shameful Injustice of the Duke Lacrosse Rape Case.

Johnson also argued multiple points that he believed were injustices towards those accused of sexual assault. These included media outlets that don’t investigate into claims made by the accuser (including the case with the UVA Rolling Stone article), certain language like using “rapist” instead of “alleged rapist” and sexual assault policies that he said don’t include due process for the accused.

“This is a system in which it’s unlikely to assume there will be much in terms of protections of due process,” Johnson said when criticizing Harvard University’s sexual assault policy.

Some of the activists asked questions during the Q&A session, and some left comments towards Johnson. One member brought up that FBI statistics showed that “unfounded rape accusations” ranged from 2 to 8 percent and that an unfounded accusation didn’t mean that they were false reports.

“As a member of F*ckrapeculture, we appreciate you coming to validate our fight against rape apologists such as yourself,” Claire Chadwick said. “You clearly do not respect women or any survivor of sexual assault.”

Some members of the audience that supported Johnson’s arguments asked questions and made statements as well. One woman asked why universities are involved with sexual assault cases in the first place.

George Washington Forum Director Robert Ingram said that he believed the audience asked reasonable questions and made reasonable statements, which is what the forum was designed to do.

“I think with any difficult issue that if you haven’t thought about every element of it, and you haven’t thought about what unintended consequences of some policy may be, then you’re not making wise policy,” Ingram said.

Johnson said he respected what the protesters had to say, especially when it dealt with personal feelings on the matter.

“I think on this issue, most times when the issue is raised by anyone who is not uncritically accepting of activist viewpoints, you get these kinds of protests,” Johnson said after the lecture. “People have a First Amendment right to protest. My general sense is that if you’re confident in your opinion, you’re able to engage critically rather than in protest, but everyone has the right to handle protests as they see fit.”

The #KCJohnson tag garnered a lot of attention during and after the lecture, including from outside of Ohio University. F*ckrapeculture live-tweeted the event on their Twitter page, mocking the lecture with comments ranging from using profanity toward Johnson to criticizing the format of his PowerPoint. FRC also made comments on certain quotes from the lecture, including how he didn’t believe the justice system favored white men accused of rape over African American men accused of rape.

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