Ludlow to Face Hearing; Accuser Regrets Coming Forward

The Chronicle of Higher Education has a new article (paywalled) on the complaints at Northwestern University regarding Peter Ludlow and the recent discussion of those complaints by Laura Kipnis in a pair of articles (for CHE). According to CHE, “Northwestern has banned [Ludlow] from the campus, he said, and has scheduled a hearing for next month on whether he should be fired.” The author, Robin Wilson, adds:

Mr. Ludlow has said the claims are false and that he did nothing wrong. He has sued the students for defamation and the university for gender discrimination and invasion of privacy.

Those lawsuits have been dismissed.

A number of parties were interviewed for the article, including Stephen Eisenman, Kipnis’s support person during the Title IX investigation into complaints that her writings might have constituted retaliation against one of the complaining parties, a philosophy graduate student:

Mr. Eisenman says universities can and should respond to students’ complaints of sex assault. But, he adds, colleges cannot protect students from public discourse about the issue or even about their cases in particular. “The university cannot prevent speech from happening because she had a terrible experience,” he said.

The graduate student who accused Ludlow of rape was also interviewed for the article:

In an interview over FaceTime, she said she wished she had never come forward to complain about Mr. Ludlow. Following the publication of Ms. Kipnis’s first essay, in February, and a follow-up essay published last week, “My Title IX Inquisition,” the graduate student has become the target of nationwide criticism by those who say she is using federal law as a weapon to stifle free speech.

“The Kipnis article piled torment on top of an already impossible situation,” the graduate student said of the original essay. She felt Ms. Kipnis was belittling her, the student said, for reporting a sexual assault and was minimizing the gravity of it.

When she first reported the alleged assault by Mr. Ludlow to the university, the graduate student says administrators promised to keep her charges confidential and protect her from retaliation. What she’s learned, she says, is that universities are incapable of following through on such pledges.

“Why did I hand this over to a system that is so toothless, so full of empty promises, only to be made a laughingstock?” she asked. “They can’t stop Laura Kipnis from calling me a liar. They can’t stop Eisenman from going up before the Faculty Senate and talking about this. They can’t keep my name off the blogs.”

The graduate student has been receiving hate mail.

Wilson also spoke with the president of Northwestern, Morton Schapiro, who defended how Northwestern handled the complaint against Kipnis:

“This is not about restricting the free speech of a faculty, it’s about abiding by the laws and doing what we think is right,” Mr. Schapiro said during a faculty meeting on Tuesday…  

Mr. Schapiro said it is the university’s responsibility to take each Title IX complaint seriously. The university had to hire outside lawyers to investigate, he said, because conflicts of interest prevented its own administrators from conducting the investigation…

“The idea that I could say, ‘This is frivolous, you can’t use Title IX in this way,’ is ludicrous,” he said. “It’s the law.” 

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