Expelled Man Calls Vassar Sexually Biased
MANHATTAN (CN) - A former student sued Vassar College, claiming it expelled him for a night of "clearly consensual sexual activity," because of policies that "invariably" find men guilty of sexual misconduct on the basis of their sex.
Xiaolu "Peter" Yu claims in Federal Court that he suffered emotional distress, loss of career prospects and earnings and damage to his reputation. He wants the expulsion reversed and his disciplinary record expunged.
Yu and Vassar are the only parties to the complaint.
"The decision reached was discriminatory; given the evidence (or lack thereof), a discriminatory bias against males was required for a conclusion of sexual misconduct to be reached and expulsion ordered," Yu says in the complaint.
Yu enrolled at Vassar in the fall of 2011 after graduating from an academy in Connecticut, where he excelled in academics and athletics. He says in the complaint that he grew up in Dalian, China, a seaport in the northeast, where his parents "sacrificed and saved" so he could be educated in the United States.
He chose Vassar, in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., from the six colleges that offered him admission. Founded as a women's college in 1861, Vassar has been coeducational since 1969.
As a freshman, Yu joined the college crew team and by his sophomore year was a varsity rower, according to the complaint. He became acquainted with a female rower, a year ahead of him, who by early 2012 showed a "romantic interest" in him, according to the complaint.
After a team party in February 2012, where Yu and the woman drank alcohol, the two went to a campus dance venue, where they kissed into the night, according to the complaint. The woman, who is identified in the document, then agreed to leave the site "to have sex with Peter Yu."
They retired to Yu's dorm room, where Yu confessed this was "his first time" and she responded, "it's okay, I know what to do," according to the complaint.
She performed oral sex on Yu, then instructed him "on where and how" to do the same to her, the complaint states.
Their sexual intercourse was interrupted when Yu's roommate returned. When he left, the woman "began to get dressed again and commented on how she 'took Peter Yu's virginity,'" the complaint states.
"After that one night of consensual sex, for which [the woman] took off her own clothes, Peter Yu and [she] amicably texted each other," the complaint states.
They exchanged posts on Facebook over the next few months but did not get back together because the woman indicated she had just ended a relationship and wasn't ready for another one, Yu says in the complaint.
"At no time did [the woman] ever indicate that she was fearful of Peter Yu or that she believed Peter Yu had raped her," the complaint states. "In fact, Peter Yu never raped [her] because they engaged in consensual sexual intercourse."
A year later, Vassar contacted Yu to advise him that allegations of sexual assault had been filed. He was charged with two violations of the student handbook.
Yu claims the college's Title IX investigator, Richard Horowitz, interviewed him, the woman and others about the allegations before a formal grievance hearing was scheduled by the school.
Yu, given a chance to look over the case file, thought Horowitz's report "reflected his own biased decision that Peter Yu was guilty," according to the complaint.
"Noticeably absent from Mr. Horowitz's report is the mention of (or explanation for its absence) any police report or health examination/rape kit made in connection with the alleged incident, i.e., any supporting evidence," the complaint states.
At the formal hearing in March, Yu was not given legal representation, though he was able to bring along a faculty member for support, according to the complaint. His request to have a student on the hearing panel was denied; the panel was comprised of faculty only, including one who served in the same academic department as the woman's father, a longtime professor at Vassar.
Yu says he was allowed to question the woman at the hearing, but not at length.
"In response to the questions that were allowed, [the woman] would start to cry and was allowed (by the panel) not to provide any substantive response to Peter Yu's substantive questions about the falsity of her charges and the many inconsistencies in her testimony," the complaint states.
After the hearing, the panel found Yu guilty and the next day he was expelled. Yu's appeal was denied.
"Notwithstanding Peter Yu's unblemished disciplinary record and high academic (3.8 GPA) and athletic achievement (Vassar rowing team) at Vassar College, and the lack of evidence in support of [the woman's] claim of rape, defendant Vassar meted out the highest possible sanction against Peter Yu, namely, immediate expulsion," the complaint states.
Yu accuses the college of violating Title IX, the federal civil rights law that prohibits sexual discrimination in education.
"Vassar College has historically and systematically rendered verdicts against males in sexual misconduct cases, solely on the basis of sex," he says in the complaint. "... They are invariably found guilty, regardless of the evidence, or lack thereof."
He adds: "Vassar College regulations effectuate a failure of due process for the student population, especially the male student population, in their current state because they are set up to encourage and facilitate the reporting of false reports of sexual misconduct and/or other grievances without any recourse for the falsely accused."
Yu also accuses the college of breach of contract, deceptive trade, negligence and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
"As a result of defendant Vassar's actions, Peter Yu's entire academic career is ruined and, without a college education, his overall economic future is completely compromised," the complaint states.
His student visa, sponsored by Vassar, was terminated, and his ability to remain in this country is dependent on acceptance at another college - which the complaint says is "bleak."
So far, five of 10 colleges he applied to denied him acceptance, based on the Vassar hearing.
"Peter Yu seeks redress from this court to undo the wrongs occasioned by Vassar College on his life, future and family," the complaint states.
That includes reversing the hearing findings, expunging his disciplinary record and destroying any account of the hearing. Yu also seeks damages for past and future economic losses, attorneys' fees and costs.
He is represented by Andrew Miltenberg with Nesenoff & Miltenberg in New York City.