Grad students who called professor a rape apologist in letter to campus paper taken to school
William A. Jacobson, a law professor at Cornell Law School and contributor to Legal Insurrection, called on the Cornell Daily Sun to apologize and publish a retraction after the paper printed a letter to the editor from seven graduate students alleging that the chair of the chemistry department was a rape apologist, a misogynist, and unfit to serve as chair.
“How can graduate students at risk for sexual assault and bias feel safe knowing the man handling sexual harassment complaints is a rape apologist?” they wrote.
Jacobson accuses the letter writers of taking several of Collum’s words and tweets out of context as part of a smear campaign in which the paper is complicit for not contacting Collum for rebuttal.
Jacobson notes that the students accused Collum of tweeting his support for “rape apologist” Michael Cernovich and then deleting the tweet, a charge Jacobson answered with a screen shot and this explanation:
… the sequence showed that rather than endorsing Cernovich’s 2012 date rape tweet as the letter suggests, Prof. Collum rejected the message in that tweet when called to his attention.
One or more of the letter writers surely were aware of this sequence because the first named writer, Kevin Hines, posted about the tweet and deletion on his own Facebook account contemporaneously with the deletion.
The students also took selected bits of this quote by Collum — “In an effort to stem a perceived epidemic of sexual violence against women, the Department of Education sent strong messages to universities” — to accuse him of “pushing the myth that rape on college campuses is a ‘perceived’ threat.”
“By selectively choosing one sentence from a 135-page document, stripping out the footnote, and ignoring other language in the same section,” Jacobson writes, the students managed to present him as a campus rape denier.
“I wrote to each of the original letter writers raising each of the points raised above and asking for a response. As of this writing, I have received no response,” Jacobson adds, asking the Daily Sun to consider that the original accusations will appear in search engines forever.