I Am Melanie: This is My Story

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Trigger warning: This post discusses sexual assault and harassment. Below is a direct response to the recent Buzzfeed article on the current lawsuit against Wesleyan University.

I’m Melanie. At least, that’s what “Kevin” called me on Buzzfeed. In his lawsuit against the University, I’m simply Jane Doe. Jane Doe #1, to be precise, one of three who came forward against him.

I could have told this story before—when it first happened, or when I reported Kevin, or when I first heard that he was starting a lawsuit. But it wasn’t a story I wanted to tell—I didn’t even want to report what he did. What he did to me was shameful, and felt like a reflection on me. But now, he has told his version of the story—his victim-blaming story, in which he did no wrong, but was instead the target of a secret conspiracy. I can’t speak for the other women who reported him, though he lied about them, too. I speak only for myself.

On Buzzfeed, Kevin writes off what he did as drunk texting. He notes that when he texted me that night after midnight, drunk out of his mind and trying to hook up, he called me “babe” and “slut.” He says that, afterwards, I told him “we can definitely put it behind us.” Those things are true, but they’re not the whole story.

Here is what happened:

We had been friends, kind of. We worked together. I was troubled by the difficult things in his life. I spoke to him when I was worried about choices he was making. We talked sometimes at parties.

Around midnight on December 14, 2013, Kevin texted me, unprompted, “Hey babe sorry.” I was confused. Neither of us had ever expressed romantic or sexual interest in each other. He then texted an incoherent apology and said that he wanted to hang out. A bunch of my friends were over at my house, so I said sure, and he said he was leaving his house. When I went five minutes without responding, he sent, “Don’t be that girl.”

I told him that all of us were playing a nerdy game in my kitchen; I was trying to make clear that I wasn’t interested in hooking up. He called me several times, and I reiterated that other people were with me. He then texted, “I want you so bad right now.” I told him, “Well that’s not gonna happen,” and, “You know we’re not hooking up, right?” I stopped responding, made sure my front door was locked, and went back to hanging out with my friends.

Kevin kept texting me long after I stopped responding. My phone kept vibrating as one text after another came in, first apologetic and somewhat normal, and then:

“Don’t be that girl”

“I kinda wanna do dirty things to slut”

“Are you okay, hoe?”

“I wanna sleep with you babe”

A little past 1 AM, he finally stopped and left me alone. Fortunately, he never came to my house. I know this because I couldn’t fall asleep – I kept thinking about the vile things he said to me.

In the morning, at 9:45, he woke up, and sent:

“Woahh”

“That’s extremely awkward”

“Sorry”

Later in the day, Kevin sent a more coherent apology that acknowledged how uncomfortable I must have felt. I don’t have the text any more, but I remember that he said it was “the creepiest thing I’ve ever done.” It was an eloquent apology, but it took me a full twenty-four hours to figure out how to text him back. I didn’t know whether to express how demeaned I felt or simply to never talk to him again. Eventually I responded that it was okay, and we could put it behind us.

I thought that I could.

The next few months of working with him were incredibly uncomfortable, but I tried to look past it. Being a leader in a small organization means you watch out for the well-being of others, you try to make friends with everyone, you make peace. So I had to sit in meetings with him, I had to act as if I wasn’t freaked out by what “dirty things” he had wanted to do to me. I had to ignore statements he made claiming to be an advocate against sexual assault. I had to make nice.

I was a leader. Moreover, I was a female leader. I knew that this kind of thing happens to many women, including by people who work under them. I knew what kind of backlash I would get for reporting someone who worked with me, and who I often disagreed with on policy. I just wanted to move on.

That spring, after the story of another sexual assault lawsuit broke, the entire campus was talking about sexual assault. More and more people started coming out as survivors and telling their stories—including stories about Kevin. One of the women whom he had reportedly sexually assaulted was one of my close friends.

I realized that my experience with his unwanted, disrespectful sexual attention was not an isolated one – this was a pattern with him.

I have been able to move past a lot of harm and hurt that have been done to me. But I have never been able to easily forgive harm that is done to other people. Now, I was hearing countless stories of sexual assaults from my classmates, my friends. As I encouraged one student after another to come forward with their stories, I realized that I was a hypocrite for not reporting Kevin. Worse, I was potentially allowing him to do it again.

I had a lot of doubts about coming forward, given what I knew about the reporting and adjudicating processes, but I thought if it could lead him to understand the harm that his actions were causing, it would be worth it.

So, in early April, I reported what happened. I asked the Dean of Students to make sure Kevin was able to get counseling immediately if he needed it. I didn’t want him to do anything to hurt himself, or anyone else.

I didn’t know if reporting the incident would go anywhere. I thought it might be too late. Maybe someone would just sit down with him and tell him that what he did wasn’t okay. That would have been enough for me. Once I had come forward to report Kevin, two other women did as well. The process is easier when you know you’re not alone.

Still, the reporting process for sexual misconduct is long, emotionally taxing, and anxiety-inducing for both accuser and accused. There is no doubt that the process could be better. I know it was hard for Kevin, too.

But one of the hardest things for me about the adjudication process was that Kevin started spreading lies. He claimed that I was doing this for political reasons, that this was all a conspiracy to hurt him and to help pass a vote on which we disagreed. I can’t even begin to express how ridiculous this idea is. This narrative is his way of avoiding blame, and nothing more.

In hindsight, I wish I could have spent all the time and energy I spent fighting for recognition of what Kevin did working on the University policies I was working to change, or my schoolwork, or my own mental health, all of which suffered during that time. Really, I wish I could have done anything other than reliving over and over one of my worst experiences at Wesleyan. I certainly didn’t choose to go through that for my own gain. I gained nothing from reporting him, personally or politically, and I didn’t expect to.

The truth is, even after the school found him guilty of sexual harassment, and later of sexual assault, Kevin didn’t learn. I don’t think he has changed. Instead of taking responsibility for his actions, he spun a story, got a lawyer, filed a lawsuit, and talked to the media. And while he spelled out my identity in the article so clearly that any Wesleyan community member could figure it out, he didn’t tell the reporter my real name, or the names of the other women, so we “couldn’t be reached for comment.” Thus, his story got air time standing alone, and people think the story he told was fact.

Because of what Kevin has said online, there remains no end to the harassment for us. There is no closure. There is no moving on. As a victim, I now have to publicly defend myself and my motivations for coming forward.

Eleven months later, I have started having nightmares about him again.

In the Buzzfeed article, Kevin asks, “Do they want me to commit suicide? Is that what they want me to do? What is the endgame?”

Kevin, I don’t want you to commit suicide. I never wanted you to be in pain. All I wanted when I reported you was for you to recognize that what you did to me and to the other Jane Does was wrong. I wanted you to do better. I wanted to be able to move on, and yes, I wanted you to move on too, as a changed person.

But after reading your lawsuit, and all of the falsehoods you continue to spread, what I want is for my community to know the truth about you. You sexually harassed me and I decided to report it. You sexually assaulted others and they decided to report it. In two of those cases, the school decided to find you responsible. The fact that none of us reported you immediately reflects our own shame and a system that silences survivors. The fact that we spoke with you civilly after you violated us does not exonerate your actions. The fact that I told you “we can put this behind us” doesn’t erase what you did. It reflects my fervent wish to forget that my body was a plaything in the imagination of someone who I had counted as a trusted colleague—until I learned that other women’s bodies were playthings for you in the real, physical world. Your actions were wrong while I tried to forget them, and they are still wrong now that I choose to confront and remember them.

And, to address your most ridiculous theory: there was no political conspiracy. Wesleyan politics are simply not that interesting. Reporting an act of sexual misconduct is not a political choice or an “activist” tactic; it is a personal choice. It is a desire to have wrongful actions recognized as such and to bring those actions to a halt.

I am Melanie. I am Jane Doe #1. I am angry, but I am no longer ashamed. You are right about one thing, Kevin—you were hurt by the broken system of adjudication. So was I. It is a system that treats neither side with compassion. But the indisputable truth is that you violated me, not the other way around. All I did is ask the school whether you did something wrong, and the school’s answer was, unequivocally, yes. You abused me twice: first the texts, and now the lies.

Kevin, I have a question for you too: when will you finally stop finding new ways to harass the women you have violated?

When will you agree to take responsibility for what you have done?

Editor’s note: The comments section of this post will remain enabled, but the Wesleying comments policy stands. Comments with direct personal attacks and/or naming students directly involved in these cases will be promptly removed and the user banned. If you have any further comments or concerns, please email staff[at]wesleying.org.

  • Joe Joe

    This was a political hit against Kevin. Read the court papers here:
    https://titleixforall.knack.com/due-process-lawsuits#welcome/

  • La Cabesa Roja

    Give me a break.

    So he sent you a few (slightly) creepy texts one night when he was hammered. Not good, but he apologized and you assured him it wasn’t a big deal. But later on you decided that you were so traumatized by such a horrific violation that you had no choice but to report it to the school because… reasons. Again, give me a break. As far as sexual “violations” go, this is about a 0.0001 out of 10.

    You really just come across as someone with a massive persecution complex who’s actively seeking out any feeble excuse you can find to paint yourself as a victim. The fact that you actually claim to have “nightmares” over this “incident” should make any rational person want to puke. I’d call it melodramatic in the extreme, but that would be a gross understatement.

  • WesConcerned

    Recently there has been a “debate” about whether Wesleying is biased or not, particularly in regards to the coverage of the Title IX lawsuit filed by “Kevin” against Wesleyan University, which prompted “Melanies” response here, and the discrepancy between which posts were permitted or not permitted to have comments. It is worth Clarifying that “Melanie” is but one of two other Jane Does and two other Witnesses relevant to this lawsuit, who allegedly charged “Kevin” on the eve of the vote on a proposal to mandate co-education of Wesleyan’s residential fraternities, a debate all parties allegedly were actively engaged in, and a proposal the university has adopted.

    It is also worth noting that the lawsuit specifically mentions that it was “set against this stage” that the university either pandered to “special interest groups” or otherwise sought to make an “example” out of “Kevin” as a “fraternity brother” wrongfully accused of sexual misconduct. The lawsuit does not state that the text messages for which “Melanie” reported Kevin are a wrongful accusation, but the lawsuit does question whether “the totality of the circumstances and context in which the alleged harassment was said to have occurred was sufficiently severe to create” a hostile environment, given that a finding of responsibility hinges on a policy that states “a single or isolated incident of sexual harassment may create a hostile environment if the incident is sufficiently severe,” while noting that “the more severe the conduct, the less need there is to show a repetitive series of incidents to provide a hostile environment, particularly if the harassment is physical.” That is to say, the policy was seemingly written to demonstrate that a single instance of rape is sufficiently severe as to create a hostile environment. Are those text messages?

    The lawsuit also states that “slanderous oral remarks and libelous written statements” were accepted at “face value” and that “Kevin” was denied “the ability to adequately defend himself,” resulting in “wrongful” findings of “responsibility” regarding “non-consensual kissing with Jane Doe 3 nearly four years ago and exchanging inappropriate text messages with Jane Doe, notwithstanding the existence of exculpatory evidence.” “Kevin” was allegedly not permitted to utilize relevant witnesses or present relevant information pertinent to his defense.

    Most notably, the lawsuit states that “less than 24 hours prior to his hearing regarding Jane Doe 3, Dean Culliton redacted relevant information from the case file that would have demonstrated that her accusations against John Doe were untruthful.” If true, that’s remarkable.

    Additionally, the lawsuit states that due to a “breach of confidentiality policies notwithstanding assurances from Wesleyan that John Doe’s student judicial record would remain confidential,” “Kevin” was fired from his job, and that “Witness 1 breached Wesleyan’s confidentiality policies by sending an email to over 19 individuals” that allegedly divulged the findings of John Doe’s proceedings regarding the three Jane Doe’s while “uttering defamatory statements and/or gravely misstating the outcome of his disciplinary hearings.”

    This is also remarkable because the lawsuit alleges that the University never followed up on a “formal retaliation complaint” that had been filed “against Witness 1 for her false statements in support of Jane Doe 3’s complaint against him due to her friendship to Jane Doe 3 and political motives.”

    Because Wesleying has opted not to cover any of these public allegations contained in a federal lawsuit, I decided to share this for potential viewers, who have a right to hear Melanie’s story, but who might be curious about “Kevin’s” question “What is the endgame?” and Melanie’s question “When will you agree to take responsibility for what you have done?”

    I agree that a fair system for both sides in matters of campus sexual assault is a feminist concern worth fighting for. If what the lawsuit alleged is true, then this process was remarkably unfair–regardless of the lewd text messages “Kevin” sent that “Melanie” told him “we can definitely put it behind us” because “we all do dumb shit when we’re drunk” months before reporting him.

    I also agree that perpetrators should be held accountable, but they should be held accountable on the merits of the charges levied against them, and in accordance with a fair process to both the accuser and the accused.

  • Alum ’13

    Thank you so much for being brave enough to post this.

  • Manon Lefevre ’14

    Thank you Melanie, I support you and admire you for coming forward

  • Alum ’14

    Banning a student from senior week seems like an appropriate sanction for sexual harassment. I don’t know if Kevin would agree with that, but I think the point of the Buzzfeed article was not that he didn’t do something wrong, it was that the school handled the cases poorly and that the cases were lodged under questionable circumstances. And if we’re going to have a judicial system that does right by victims, it has to have more integrity than a system that hardly questioned the claims at all. I don’t think he’s victim blaming, I think he’s asking for due process.

    A few more points:
    You write,
    “all I wanted when I reported you was for you to recognize that what you did to me and to the other Jane Does was wrong.”

    It sort of seems like he did recognize that what he did was wrong. He apologized immediately, and then apologized with another longer, more sincere apology. I don’t see how he could have made it any more clear that he recognized that what he did was wrong, especially when you exonerated him and told him it was fine. I understand that you said that insincerely. But given the larger campaign you were leading, your charges seem also insincere and instead part of an attempt to discredit a view that disagreed with your own. It’s hard to believe that this was “one of the worst things that happened” to you at Wesleyan when, if I live in the same world of terrible misogyny that you do, much scarier things happen every day.

    And it’s true. “Unwanted kissing” and text message harassments like these do not occur in a vacuum. In many circumstances, they really should be reason to suspend a student. But just because we note that a claim that he perpetrated sexual assault isn’t substantiated does not mean that the punishment of similar offenses is invalidated. Furthermore, just because we note that perhaps a certain series of drunken text messages does not warrant a suspension, which, if you read the lawsuit, is indeed what he was given, does not mean that another series of drunken text messages will not. This is the whole point of due process.

    It doesn’t sound like he’s blaming you. He’s suing the school for failing to protect him. I think some of the most unfair things about this case are that there was no investigation at all by Wesleyan about misconduct on the other side: to who called his workplace’s office and violated the college’s confidentiality policy, for instance, or anything about the a mass e-mail defaming him with details from the case. Also, when one of the statements was found to be patently untrue and an act of retaliation (as in, there were unbiased witness statements to support the fact that Jane doe 3 and her witness was lying), the university continued to receive information from these parties. Finally, they redacted relevant information pertinent to his defense 24 hours before the hearing.

    Also, to be clear, he was found responsible for “discrimination and harassment,” not sexual harassment, and actually was given a deferred suspension, not told simply that he couldn’t party on campus for two weeks. This is all according to the lawsuit.

    We need a system of adjudication that we can fully trust. And to college campuses, I say: if we’re going to win the battle against campus sexual assault, we need to be unimpeachable.

    • guest

      To be clear:

      C. DEFERRED SUSPENSION—A status imposed by the board, indicating the student’s standing within the University is in jeopardy. Additional violations during the probationary period will result in suspension or dismissal.

      (http://www.wesleyan.edu/studentaffairs/studenthandbook/standardsregulations/code-of-non-academic4.html)

      Deferred suspension is literally not suspension. It is a warning.

      He also did not get the deferred suspension for the harassment alone… it was a result of both “responsible” findings. Harassment against one person and assault against another is not even enough to get you actually suspended.

      • Read The Lawsuit!

        Even if what you are saying is true, how does this change that the kid is disputing that he sexually assaulted (non-consensually kissed) the other jane does and that he wasn’t subject to impartial investigations or hearings in accordance with fairness and justice, or that the University failed to maintain the confidentiality of his hearings, which is also in the code you cite?

        Dean Culliton redacted relevant information pertinent to his defense 24 hours before the hearing. There appears to have been no investigation by Wesleyan as to who called his boss and thus violated the college’s confidentiality policy in order to get him fired. He suffered reputational harm as one of the witnesses in his case sent a mass e-mail divulging the alleged facts of his case (and distorting them, apparently)–again in violation of confidentiality policies. And that same witness was the one who was never investigated/charged for retaliation when she furnished false information to a public safety officer to support Jane Doe 3 by “corroborating” a lie that other witnesses could have exposed, had they been interviewed or allowed to participate that is. That’s all in the lawsuit. Blaming Melanie for “ruining” his life is not.

        Sure, his blackout aggressively forward texts were pretty bad, and maybe the university was correct in saying that, though isolated, they violated Wesleyan’s discrimination and harassment policy, but even if that is the case there should have been an investigation. But it doesn’t end there, and reading the lawsuit I assume he blames Jane Doe 2/3 and Witness 1/2 way more than Melanie for “trying to ruin his life”–as they are why it is more than just missing senior week.

        So why are people commenting here as if this kid is suing Melanie, or blaming Melanie? Anyone who reads or skims even the beginning of the lawsuit or the buzzfeed article can see that’s just not the case. Sure, maybe he feels the reported harassment was political, but if you were in his position you probably would assume that too. Dean Culliton saying hey come talk to me about fraternities jk you’re charged probably didn’t exactly help. And I’m sure if this was just about being found responsible for those texts and missing senior week none of you would be reading any of this. But it’s bigger than missing out on a party, or the coeducation proposal. People who used to be his close friends and peers are literally committed to ruining his life–not for some egregious UVA style rape, but for aggressive and lewd blackout texts and accusations that he never got affirmative consent to kiss two girls.

        And he’s not even suing them for defamation, slander, or libel. He’s suing the school!

        And this is why it makes no sense to have comments on this post, but not the one about the buzzfeed article and actual lawsuit.

  • ’13

    Thank you Melanie for speaking up.

    • wes ’14

      did you read the case?

      • Joe Joe

        I’m sure she didn’t.

    • Joe Joe

      Thank you, Melanie, for revealing yourself as a liar.

  • Wes ’12

    You are so brave and so generous. Thank you for coming forward. It is a selfless action that you took, reliving your trauma over and and over again. Thank you.

    • wes ’13

      *selfish

  • Wes ’14

    I’m glad that Melanie decided to come forward to tell her story and recognize how hard that must be, but the entire point behind this lawsuit is to reform a monkey-court college judicial process that prevents any party from getting closure, accused or accuser.

    Going to the court of public opinion is the last resort for people that suffer from an unjust system (look at Ferguson). Please don’t blame him for exercising that right.

  • AG ’15

    Thank you to the badass woman who wrote this, who I had the pleasure of getting to know even in the midst of all kinds of bullshit last semester.

    Rich white men like “Kevin” are socialized to believe they can do whatever they want to women with impunity. “Kevin” is allowed to make “Melanie” feel uncomfortable as a leader in student government, but Melanie isn’t allowed to report him for calling her a “slut” and a “hoe” without her consent. Because then he didn’t get to PARTY for a week. Kevin is allowed to sit there and sneer at WSA meetings while survivors recount their sexual assaults, but no one is supposed to hold him accountable for his sexual misconduct.

    People who say “unwanted kissing” is not “sexual assault” pretend as if these actions occur in a vacuum. Because certainly we don’t live in a society where women must constantly be on guard lest their bodies not be violated. Certainly it’s unreasonable to believe that an “unwanted kiss” left unreported might turn into a rape ignored by your university, the police, your friends, society. Except that is the reality of our culture, of rape culture.

    What’s the endgame here? Women, forever, being relegated to the sidelines, our safety and comfort left to the whims of men?

    • blah

      agree that we can’t take the unwanted kissing in a vacuum. I guess the prospect of two semesters suspension immediately alarms me. I’m a guy and I’ve been brought up with kissing presented as *the* ritual to figure out whether there’s some mutual feeling. Instinctively, I feel like there’s a pretty clear difference between going in for a kiss that the other person isn’t down with (and then acknowledging this and letting them be), vs. disregarding the other person’s agency by not *caring* whether they wanted a kiss or not.

      I have no idea how this applies here because I don’t know the specifics of the cases. I just get nervous advocating harsh punishments for “unwanted kissing” because I feel like it’s often of the former kind, even while I agree that the latter kind happens and is deplorable and (despite a relative disparity of physical/emotional harm) contributes to an unsafe social environment.

      I guess I just want to know that it matters whether men in these situations are responsive to absence of consent, even if there’s a moment of hopefulness and misunderstanding.

      Sorry for tangent and thanks for your comment.

      • guest

        He wasn’t suspended for two semesters. For being found “responsible” for harassment, he was given three judicial points (suspension happens at 10 points) and wasn’t allowed to be here during senior week only.

        • Not True

          You don’t know what you’re talking about. This was about way more than “Melanie” which is why the lawsuit, which no one seemed to read, is more heavily about Jane Doe 2/3 and witness 1/2

          • guest

            I actually do know what I’m talking about. For the harassment charge, he was given three judicial points and had to sit out senior week. For the sexual assault charge, he was given six points and couldn’t WALK at graduation. He did graduate on time. He was not suspended or expelled. He got a total of nine points (short of the 10 you need for suspension) and only had to sit out these fun, social events.

          • Curious

            Since you claim to know so much do you know who it was that decided to get him fired?

        • blah

          thanks, did not understand that.

      • AG ’15

        Thanks for your reply. Don’t let yourself be ensnared by rape apologists who try to frighten young men out of advocating on behalf of sexual assault survivors and improved policy at their universities. People might read “unwanted kissing” in scare quotes and jump to the most superficial, contrived, and convenient conclusions, but let’s be real about what “unwanted kissing” actually means when an 18-21 year old girl is reporting it to a 45 year old male PSafe officer. Why would she ever report an earnest guy who ends up respecting her wishes given the inevitable backlash from reporting? And this is just one example of this whole horrifying system. Peace & good wishes.

        • blah

          Thanks for stating the obvious for me, I feel like I needed that in some way.

        • La Cabesa Roja

          I don’t think most women would. Then again, I don’t expect women to go to the school with a few drunken text messages either. Especially when you’ve sincerely apologized for said text messages and the other person apparently forgives you.

          I know “affirmative consent” is all the rage, and when it comes to sex I agree with it, but low level stuff like kissing is still overwhelming negotiated non-verbally. It almost has to be. Asking for sex is one thing. Asking prior to every little kiss or touch is another. It’s just not practical. Especially when you think about long-term relationships. No one is going to be stopping to ask every single time they give their SO of 5 years a slap on the ass. There has to be a reasonable middleground when it comes to this stuff.

  • Not rainbows and unicorns

    As I female I was in awe reading this article. I had to go back because I thought I missed the part about why Melanie was felt so violated and victimized. What kind of sheltered life are you living? I’m not condoning the texts he sent, but seriously, have you never told a guy to fuck off before?? Or am I missing the point here?

    • La Cabesa Roja

      I know it’s kind of unbelievable. I also went back to make sure I didn’t miss something. She describes having nightmares FFS. You’d think he raped her at knife point from the way she describes it.

  • ’14

    Thank you for writing this.

  • guest

    her worst experience at wesleyan? Dirty texts? The idea that someone was imagining her in a sexual manner? Holy crap, how completely blown out of proportion!

  • guest

    Because of harassing texts that he doesn’t deny sending, he got three judicial points and was told he couldn’t be on campus for senior week until graduation day to reduce the amount of time they would see each other during the week of partying. How did Melanie ruin his life by reporting this, or the school ruin his life with this sanction?

    – Friend who was with Melanie when she got the results of the hearing

    • Not Trur

      Melanie didn’t ruin his life. This is about WAY more than “Melanie” which is why the lawsuit, which no one seemed to read, is more heavily about the university (which made him think this was political, ie Dean Culliton luring him into his office under false pretenses), Jane Doe 2/3 and witness 1/2. His sanction was way more than just not partying during senior week, he was banished from campus, he received more than 3 points, he couldn’t participate in graduation, he lost his job when people called to tell his boss he was a rapist, and he has been harassed by friends of the other complainants who accused him of non-consensual kissing and continually divulge confidential information to people without his consent to defame him and ruin his reputation.

      -friend of Kevin, who sympathizes with Melanie and knows how much he regrets those texts

    • But…

      Doesn’t this sort of prove the point of the lawsuit? As an uninvolved party you should not know the details of another student’s confidential judicial record. I don’t understand why or think it’s right for Melanie to know specific details either.

  • ’15

    To Melanie and the other Jane Does: thank you. Your willingness to stand up for what’s right, despite the hateful backlash you continue to face, makes this community a safer place – for me, for our peers, and for all generations of Wes students still to come. In this difficult climate, after all the discussion surrounding sexual assault on campus these last couple years, people like you allow me to still be proud to be a Wesleyan student. I’m so grateful for your tenacity.

  • alum

    it seems like these girls didn’t think bout the long term consequences of their actions
    $$$$$$$$$$$

  • Alex

    Why don’t we just expel everyone who’s ever sent an inappropriate drunk text!! This girl needs to check herself and stop obsessing over something SO MENIAL, there are far more important things going on in the world……. oh wait…. I forgot, she’s clearly way to delusional to see farther than her own nose.

    • nope

      Why? Just because you think the guy got punished excessively? If the punishment is unjust, it’s the fault of the punisher (Wesleyan) not the victim. Of course the victim wants a greater punishment than the community at large! If someone killed a family member of mine, I’d want to kill them myself. That doesn’t mean I should be allowed to or even that the state should do it for me.

      • Alex

        by that exact logic, we also should let this girl come for his head and most likely ruin his life for simple drunk texts! She’s behaving way out of proportions, can you not see that?

      • charlie

        That actually precisely the point of the Buzzfeed article — Kevin is not bringing lawsuit against her (or even “blaming” her as many so conveniently assumed for the sake of their position), but the University for mishandling the situation by not allowing him to get witness, present files on record, etc…

        • But

          In the process he has re victimized those involved by sharing their stories without their consent. Who do you think is getting the largest backlash after that article? Obviously not him.

          • except

            not everything is victimizing

          • I Disagree

            I don’t think that’s true. And you can only revictimize those who already were victims, but feel free to accept the non-consensual kissing allegations at face value…

            Aside from the fact that it’s far easier to figure out who he is compared to them, he clearly got more backlash. He lost his job, and the worst thing he did (unless you accept the non-consensual kissing allegations at face value) is send those texts.

            While each of the Jane Does have their (mainly cushy) jobs, John Doe, in addition to being fired for confidential information that wasn’t released with his consent, was recently subject to a vicious email defaming him and releasing confidential information about his cases–to over 20 people–by Witness 1.

            If you actually read the case (which it seems like most didn’t) it’s clear his beef is mainly with the school, and then witness 1 and 2 for interfering with the cases. Then Jane Doe 2 and 3…he never blames Jane Doe/Melanie for what subsequently happened. And I’m guessing she didn’t call to get him fired.

          • La Cabesa Roja

            Even the nonconsensual kissing sounds fairly trivial (assuming he didn’t just grab her head and forcibly make out with her, that is). I know the mantra is “ask first” and whatnot, but let’s get real. Verbally asking prior to every little kiss or touch is hardly the norm even today. If all he did was lean in to kiss her and then back off when she didn’t kiss him back, then that’s pretty damned banal. Few people would even think to call that sexual assault much less report it.

            If everything that could potentially be considered sexual assault was reported, you’d see 80% of the student body expelled within a year. At the end of the day, we still rely on people to be reasonable. Especially in the face of increasingly unreasonable standards for what qualifies as sexual assault. Few people find it necessary to obtain explicit permission every single time they give their long-term partner an affectionate swat on the butt, and almost none of them find themselves accused of sexual assault. The truth is though, that they could be, and they would be found guilty if such a report were made.

  • VoR261

    Wow, we’ve really got a lot to consider huh? Personally, I don’t see how it matters if she had political motives–this aspect of the debate sounds like the usual victim blaming bullshit that we can’t seem to escape for some reason. This is a pity, because it sounds like we all agree this guy did something that’s pretty scummy but the question is whether he committed a social faux pas OR an offense worthy of suspension OR a criminal offense.

    We have a sexual culture that’s based on risk taking. When you ask someone on a date, you take a risk that they’ll say no. Part of what makes romantic and sexual life rewarding is that there’s an uncertainty involved and success–however we each individually decide to define it–is not guaranteed. Most of us have matured sexually and romantically in a “flirting” culture where the minor actions that facilitate the advancement of sexual or romantic relationship aren’t likely to be discussed explicitly.

    However, We’ve correctly recognized as a society that the harms to potential victims of allowing this risk taking in certain contexts outweigh. In some cases, there is severe psychological anguish that could accompany getting it wrong, so “just going for it” when it comes to certain sexual actions is no longer something that’s acceptable and is rightfully punished; penetration is a case that indisputably requires consent be made explicit. However, we’re still living in this weird cultural in-between period, where the norms around explicitly asking permission to do EVERYTHING (for example kissing) aren’t developed; that’s why its weird to ask someone if you can kiss them or hold their hand or touch their shoulder suggestively.

    This creates a situation where wrongdoing is determined by the reaction, mindset, and preferences of the potential victim, rather than the action of the potential perpetrator. This doesn’t exist anywhere else in common-law or disciplinary policy and is probably unjust. If person A beats person B to a pulp, they’ve committed a crime because what they’ve done is inherently criminal. How person B feels about being beaten to a pulp doesn’t matter at all. If person A tries to kiss person B, person B might want that or not. At this point, how person B feels about person A, what their past life experiences are, and even what kind of a mood they’re in determine whether or not person A is punished, rather than anything person A did. We don’t punish murderers based on how many people are sad that the victim is dead. We don’t punish vandals or thieves based on how upset the victim is. We apply generalizable standards for the level of harm visited upon society as a result of the crime. Murderers are punished based on how many people they killed, whether they premeditated it, and if they did it with particular cruelly. Thieves are punished based on the financial value of the property they’ve stolen–the average value society assigns to that property.

    We recognize that some thieves might steal things that are of personal value to the victim, but we don’t punish based on the personal value that the victim ascribes to their property. In keeping with this standard, the University and the Government alike have an obligation to make it clear and explicit what actions can result in punishment and what the nature of that punishment should be. As ridiculous as the exercise might seem, it appears clear we need some codified set of rules that dictate which sexual actions it’s okay to take risks with and which are punishable without consent, scaling the punishments appropriately. What “appropriately” means should be up for debate, because the goal would be to achieve some kind of average understanding of what is acceptable and what is not.

    Unfortunately, this has impact of creating a normative standard that may not respect the way victims feel in the context of individual circumstances. I think that change has to be a social and cultural one, as laws and policies will never be equipped to deal with situations where the human experience differs so broadly.

  • FREEGUWOP____

    just fyi, wesleying is monitoring the comments, but mainly for any strong arguments against melanie’s opinion. also, this comment will be deleted in 3, 2, 1…

    • Samira

      It doesn’t matter if someone disagrees with what’s posted, but if a few people post ~20 times in the comments section under different headings asking questions about the issue and responding to their own questions like they are different people that’s spamming and we’re going to moderate it. Anyone who does this, I suggest posting under your real name or at least one consistent anonymous name so that you can be held accountable for what you say.

      Also, Wesleying is always moderating comments. This isn’t a new policy.

      • Freeguwop was right

        That’s definitely not what’s been happening.

        • Samira

          Actually, yes, that is what’s been happening. Most of the comments you see on ‘controversial’ posts like this are posted by the same people so you shouldn’t take many of them too seriously. I know this because the same IP addresses and email addresses show up. Comment threads will always be trolly but we’d like that to be minimized as much as possible.

          I’ll add on that it’s more common for people to comment on our posts when they disagree with what’s been posted. We are fully used to this and it’d be wrong to delete a comment just because it disagreed with the post’s content.

  • Stop

    Kevin is the one who decided to go to the media, to bring up the whole case again not only to the security of a court and a lawyer – but to the community at large. For doing this, he has forced Melanie and the other victims to once again defend themselves. He even chose focus on the accusations against him, rather than the actual treatment he received from the school.

    If we assume that “creepy texts” are forgivable, then how does one draw the line of harassment? Of consent? Of a culture based on the objectification of women? Why is it okay for her and the other victims to live and work in fear of repeated harassment from the same person? The reporting of the incident is justified because the victims felt unsafe. Though the handling of the case by the school was problematic I really don’t see how it warrants a very public condemnation of the victims.

    Stop blaming victims, stop allowing the normalization of harassment, and stop debating on who is at fault. Kevin has been found responsible in 3 separate cases. That is done. His actions afterwards have not reflected any respect for the victims privacy or right to continue their lives. Again, HE was the one to go to the media, and HE was the one to recount their stories, and HE is the one who committed these acts. His lack of remorse through his current action is apparent.

    • tom

      wow. you are exactly right in every point you make. good for you

    • huh?

      But the victims didn’t feel unsafe….they all remained closely acquainted to Kevin, did they not?

    • Are You Kidding Me?

      BUT THEY ARE NOT VICTIMS! This guy sent dirty texts to a woman (how many thousands of times a day does that happen) while drunk! And then he kissed someone! Someone who decided, 4 years later, that she didn’t like it!

      How many men and women have had the same experience and it has not weighed on them at all? How many PEOPLE honestly would consider dirty texts to be “victimizing?”

      THESE WOMEN AREN’T VICTIMS. Hell one of them wanted him to move in with her. The VICTIM IS KEVIN. He lost jobs and his diploma. And now feminists everywhere will make sure that the world thinks he is a rapist. He didn’t physically harm anyone!

      Do you have any sense of morality? Any sense of “justice?” Because throwing someone out of school, labeling him a rapist, and costing him a job is NOT in line with justice, or morality, to having received dirty texts and gotten kissed.

    • La Cabesa Roja

      I’d say the law does a pretty good job of drawing that line. Sexual harassment is uninvited behavior of a sexual nature that is so severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive that it would cause a reasonable person to feel that it created a hostile environment and unreasonably interfered with their ability to participate in, or benefit from, the work or educational setting.

      One or two minor incidents will not likely be considered harassment. Wesleyan is a private school, however, so they can define harassment however they like. If he did this all the time, then she’d totally be justified. He did it once, however, and he apologized and apparently never did it again. She seems spiteful for suddenly deciding to file a complaint months later after. Especially after telling him that all was forgiven.

  • Baffled

    http://mobile.nytimes.com/2014/11/16/opinion/sunday/mishandling-rape.html?referrer=

    Perfect op-Ed on the mishandling of rape cases by universities.

    -Woman, Wes alum, anti-false allegations

  • A dude

    You said, “All I wanted when I reported you was for you to recognize that what you did to me and to the other Jane Does was wrong.”

    I think Kevin clearly knew what he did was wrong and was extraordinarily shamed about it before you reported him. I’m not trying to exonerate him at all; I’m just finding issue with this claim.

    I think Kevin clearly had some kind of issue that needed to be dealt with, probably through therapy or counseling. Maybe he’s dealing with it now, I don’t know.

    Either way, it is unclear to me if the way his case was dealt with was appropriate for the situation. Would he have been able to make amends with you in any way, or was the only solution to go to the school? I understand (or maybe I don’t because I’m a male) how drunk texts can be disturbing. But he really did recognize his fault and it was not followed up by any further harassment.

    • This is so weird

      I think it might have been reasonable to ask him not to be in the WSA anymore (initially), but to not talk to him about it and then when the co-education debate happened report him, followed by two more reports about “non-consensual kissing” definitely gives off vibes that on some level, for some people, this was about politically silencing the kid given the co-education debate. Maybe not, which explains why people are still trying to ruin his life and get him fired and defame him as if kissing is the same as forcibly anally raping someone…but if that’s the case then people are bat-shit crazy because literally nothing the kid was accused of is actually particularly egregious or an actual crime.

  • gross

    This whole “boys will be boys” argument people are making is just disgusting.

    • What do you mean?

      Who’s making that argument? I think people are just curious as to whether these isolated text messages were sufficiently severe to traumatize Melanie to the point that the individual who sent them needed to be excommunicated from the Wesleyan community and then additionally lose his job.

      Melanie reasonably wants to move on with her life. So does “Kevin”…except people are actively preventing “Kevin” from doing so, as if he is inherently dangerous and a threat to everyone he meets simply because he sent some inappropriate texts one night and was accused of non-consensual kissing from his first night at Wesleyan, whatever “non-consensual kissing” even truly means.

      What’s equally disgusting is the way this is all framed. This is elaborate. Yet the other post about the lawsuit takes one quote from the suit and then links articles that give you the impression the individual deserved what he got. I’m not so sure that’s the case, especially if Melanie and the other Jane Doe’s and Witnesses really did lie to PSAFE/ the Deans about certain information.

      I wish this all could be presented neutrally and objectively, free from bias. But this is Wesleying/Wesleyan.

    • Marshall

      Good strawman

    • Are You Kidding Me?

      Strawman arguments, way to go. Way to ruin someones life for some dirty texts and kissing.

  • Am I right?

    If we banished all students for their creepy drunk texts then the wesleyan community would be significantly smaller. (not saying they were upstanding things to say, just pointing out that if this was the worst the kid did, then damn this is fucked)

  • Worth Noting

    Its worth noting that “We had been friends, kind of. We worked together. I was troubled by the difficult things in his life. I spoke to him when I was worried about choices he was making. We talked sometimes at parties” is counter to what “Kevin” alleges “Melanie” alleges in the lawsuit…which could be important.

  • Wait a minute

    I think he “learned” and has changed as a person…I just think he didn’t expect everyone involved to continue to try and ruin his life when they were formerly his close friends. I mean, lets be real. He’s basically saying the worst thing he did was send those texts…he’s saying the kissing from 4 years ago was consensual, and even if it wasn’t now you have people actively trying to get him fired and banished from society for relatively “minor” infractions in the greater spectrum of what is wrong. That doesn’t mean what he texted Melanie was acceptable, but the backlash isn’t necessarily justified.

    And from “kevins” perspective, if you are blind-sided like he seems to have been, given the timing of everything…it’s going to look and feel like a political conspiracy. On some level, for some of these people, it really might have been.

    Also, it seems like the kids problem is less with “Melanie” and more so with Jane Doe 2, Jane Doe 3, Witness 1, and Witness 2….and based on reading it…I’d say Witness 1 and Witness 2…whom make it seem more political than it might have been for someone like “Melanie”

  • guest

    Just hearing this as a woman, how does it qualify as “one of [her] worst experiences at Wesleyan.” It’s creepy, yeah. It’s deserving of reprimand. But the saying that getting these creepy texts was totally traumatic and life changing just doesn’t ring true to me at all.

    That said, I’ve never experienced it, so maybe I’m wrong. Reading this though, it just didn’t make sense.

    • Wes ’18

      I think this goes back to her point that victims have very little reason to go through such a horrible process if it wasn’t truly a terrible experience for them. She wouldn’t do all this if it didn’t deeply affect her. Some of us might (sadly) be very used to this kind of experience, or have become accustomed to seeing it happen to others and therefore not feel the same reaction she did. That doesn’t make her experience any less real.

      • just saying

        Or the experience didn’t affect her, so it wasn’t that hard given that we’re talking about text messages in one singular night. Something that has the following reasonable courses of action: 1) turn your phone off 2) block the number 3) put your phone in another room 4) go to sleep

        • Obviously

          She could have called PSAFE that night or the next day saying scared he might do something.

      • La Cabesa Roja

        Doesn’t your argument presuppose that a complainant is actually traumatized? If someone’s feeling totally fine, then why would the process be difficult for them?

    • Weird

      This was my reaction as well. Texts do no equal assault. And those texts don’t corroborate the allegations that he non-consensually kissed someone else. This whole situation is incredibly odd.

    • stophate

      Melanie clearly says that she didn’t feel safe after she received the messages from Kevin, and that she had to ensure that her house doors were locked, frieds were downstairs, and she couldn’t fall asleep because she was afraid he would come. It doesn’t matter what you think of texts having the same effect on people, it might be a triggering aspect (we don’t know) on Melanie and that is a reason for her to report Kevin. Kevin’s horrible name calling and attacking Melanie doesn’t mean that it didn’t affect Melanie, the texts should have the same effect as him saying it, acting it, and he should be accountable for what he did.

      • Serious Question

        what do we mean when we say “should be accountable for what he did”…shouldn’t be on the WSA? shouldn’t be at senior week? shouldn’t walk at graduation? shouldn’t graduate? shouldn’t be able to get a job? …What is the end game?

      • B

        Chill yo

      • La Cabesa Roja

        I know we’re not supposed to “invalidate” anyone’s experiences, but surely there comes a point where you have acknowledge that melodrama is melodrama.

        I can understand something like this being annoying or even mildly upsetting, but unless this hit some specific trigger from her past, it was not some major victimization. There has to be SOME degree of objectivity when it comes to judging these things.

    • Woman ’15

      Starting something off with “just hearing this as a woman” effectively gives you more authority to negate Melanie and the other Jane Does’s experiences. Anyone who is very doubtful of their experiences will surely use female-identifying comments like yours to bolster their case. You don’t speak for every woman just because you are a woman.

      • Woman ’13

        And neither do you. So take a seat. We’re all entitled to our opinions, and providing our identities only informs where those opinions come from. So, to that extent, inclusions like that do add to the discussion, the same way yours did here.

      • Are You Kidding Me?

        And neither do you, you slut shaming asshole. This kid got his diploma taken away, and was fired from his job, AND IS BEING CALLED A RAPIST, for some dirty texts.

        Are women this weak and fragile? I don’t think so. I don’t think Melanie is at all traumatized, how many thousands of people get dirty texts and just delete them? This is clearly for vengeance in the stupid student council, nothing more.

        You are an amoral sociopath, regardless.

  • Person

    Thank you for taking the extraordinary time and effort to share your story. It makes a lot of things alleged in the other articles (the continued working with Kevin after the texts, the timing of the reporting, etc.) all make much more sense in terms of the actions of the assaulted.

    But I think it’s important to remember that the suit Kevin is filing is against the University, for all of its inadequacies in dealing with sexual assault, rather than against you and others involved. I can’t begin to speak to Kevin’s mental/emotional state, or his level of creep, but we shouldn’t only view this incident as students with disagreements over what happened, when. We should not let this be merely an issue of who is right, who deserves what, etc. It should be about fixing or eliminating a university institution that is so blatantly inadequate to handle either side of a sexual assault allegation.

  • guest

    I think that she raises a good point, she just asked the school to decide if he did anything wrong. At that point, Wes generally bungled the case. That’s why he’s suing the school, not the women who accused him.

    When cases are so dramatically mishandled, no one wins, which I think was the larger point of the BuzzFeed article. Does it hurt survivors 90% of the time? Yeah, probably, but that doesn’t mean that these stories don’t matter.

    Further, I don’t think seeking restitution or trying to clear your name is necessarily harassment. If this were true, and shouldn’t be happening, our justice system would be void.

  • Wes 15

    I completely support and admire you Melanie. You will receive backlash, mostly by mysoginists who can’t understand what’s wrong with their worldview. The texts you recieved absolutely constitute harassment, and in some ways it is more important to report these “minor” cases. Everyone can (hopefully) agree that violent assault is wrong; we need men to understand this type of harassment wrong, too. Stay strong!

    • guest

      No doubt that what he said was wrong, although its questionable whether it violated Wesleyan policy. He took ownership for that, however, and apologized. I think the problem was less that Melanie reported him, and that the gang of her friends, all closely politically related to the co-education debate, reported him for “minor” cases from a very long time ago, only when the co-education debate happened. And, to make matters worse, they lied to discredit him…and even after “winning” their cases decided to go further and get him fired from his job. Had that not happened–which is really really fucked up–I highly doubt anyone would be reading about this.

    • i’m sorry, no

      Misogynists? Seriously? Is that your plan to denigrate all of the completely legitimate responses that people could have to this article? I’m sorry, but that’s just fucking ridiculous and so is this petty response.

      – Wesleyan woman

    • FREEGUWOP____

      *misogynists?? come on, you can’t mean that literally.

    • Are You Kidding Me?

      IT IS YOUR WORLDVIEW THAT IS WRONG!!!

      You are banning a guy from campus and taking jobs from him, making him scared to apply to graduate school, and taking his diploma FOR DIRTY TEXT MESSAGES!!!!

      “Non-consenual kissing?” So when my aunt kissed me at graduation and I didn’t want it it was RAPE?! Are you kidding me?!

  • curious

    Wesleying, what is your reasoning behind allowing comments here and not on the earlier? Would actually like to have this articulated.

    • alt

      A couple points:

      1. When we originally posted the BuzzFeed article, we immediately noted that much of the article hinges on identities on students. Because of past issues we’ve had moderating similar posts, we decided it would be best when posting that article to not allow people the opportunity to potentially talk about students and their identities. At that time, we also didn’t know that Melanie would come forward wanting to tell her story. In the past, we have disabled comments when the events dealt with particular students in such a blatant nature.

      2. When Melanie sent us her story, she actually said she welcomed comments and wanted there to be a discussion, so we decided to oblige.

      3. Moderating takes extensive amounts of time on our part to ensure that we are continually observing the comments section—thus we previously did not feel the thread could be appropriately moderated. Each comments section requires a commitment, one we felt with the other post could not be fulfilled to the extent necessary.

      Feel free to email staff[at]wesleying.org with any other comments or concerns.

      • Real Talk

        It would have taken less time and effort to just state: Wesleying wants to continue to remain entirely bias in favor of Melanie’s story over “Kevins”

        • hmmm

          understandably so..

  • guest

    Genuinely curious what motivates the comments policy on these posts? Can some rationale be given from a Wesleying staffer? Not saying there isn’t one, just saying it’s unclear and the link doesn’t do much to help.

  • ?

    She reported him for his benefit? HAHAHAHAHA

  • Unbelievable

    So now comments are allowed? Wesleying has lost any semblance of journalistic integrity.

    • you don’t know wesleying

      Wesleying is not a news outlet…

      • Unbelievable

        It reports news, and follows the same protocol that many “news outlets” do. If they’re using that excuse to just pick and choose when to remove bias or follow correct protocol, that’s low

        • i’m sorry, no

          No, they just like to play by the news rules when it’s convenient. I’m sure these kids will be writing about it all over their resumes as though they “reported” news the same way Wesleying writers have done before them. When truthfully, it’s a giant soapbox for a few of Wesleyan’s students to act like they represent the collective voice of Wesleyan.

          • get involved

            If you think that Wesleying is one-sided or has lapses in coverage, then join and write something! Wesleying is run by highly engaged students who have the motivation to spend huge amounts of time on everything from posting events to providing critical coverage of campus events to creating content concerning campus issues to moderating everything that the rest of us have to say. It’s an immense job that they have to fit in between studies, social lives, and everything else we all do. If you want to say something, join an organization that lets you do so

  • Wes ’13

    Is this real? If I sued every person who has ever made an inappropriate comment or sent an offensive text message, I’d be a billionaire.

    I’m not saying these comments or messages are appropriate. They absolutely are not. But that is a problem that can be solved through other means – sexual policy education and the like. This is NOT worth ruining someone’s reputation and life.

    This is such a third world problem. There are women who get raped, tortured, and murdered. You can’t handle a couple of text messages? Good luck in the real world.

    And good call Wesleying for enabling comments on this post, but not Kevin’s? How is that fair? I will keep re-posting my comment until you do post it.

    • An Expert

      SUCH a first world problem. absolutely. the real world is so much worse than our beautiful little bubble, that we should just prepare our backsides for the spanking of reality. let’s all pretend we don’t have the privilege to work for something better, because out there, it only gets worse! also, lawsuit’s “Kevin” v. Wesleyan, if you haven’t been paying attention.

    • Wes ’18

      The argument that it could be worse elsewhere is ridiculous. That’s like, oh well other countries have full blown racially motivated genocide, so there’s no point in addressing police brutality here. Just because something could be worse, doesn’t mean it isn’t worth addressing. The cumulative burden of constantly facing harassment from trusted colleagues/friends is incredibly damaging and only adds to a culture that routinely ignores inhumane treatment of women.