I read with disgust the hit piece on Yale University quarterback Patrick Witt, who as a finalist for a Rhodes Scholarship make a difficult choice and decided to play in the annual Harvard-Yale football game. Whether this was a wise decision is irrelevant since it was Witt's decision and he has to live the consequences of that decision. However, the New York Times intimated, without detail that the reason why Witt withdrew is because of an informal sexual assault complaint that was lodged against him by an unnamed woman. The Times ran with the piece without much in the way of confirmation.
The problem as pointed out by KC Johnson in this piece, is that Patrick Witt's reputation is damaged, possibly beyond repair, and he has little recourse to find out who did it since Yale is not conducting an investigation into who leaded the information about an informal complaint.
Which brings me to the informal complaint process. Now as a private university (although it aspires to hold higher standards than some mere public university), Yale University does not owe it students or faculty any of what we would consider normal due process rights, such as the right to face one's accuser. In Witt's case, he may have known the name of his accuser, that fact is a little less than clear since all the stories that I have read have stated that the "parties" agreed to keep things confidential. The problem is that "parties" is not defined. An informal complaint process, as it is described by Johnson, allows for little or no investigation and ca be started on little more than a "worry" or whim. The process appears to be designed to allow an accuser to "regain their sense of wellbeing" and gives the accuser control over the process. Nevermind that the infomration complaint process does nothing to determine if the accuser is right or even partially right or simply misunderstood something.
No, the informal complaint process is designed label someone, possibly wrongly, as something to be feared, punished and ostracized.
The funny thing is, as can be found in the first link in this post, now that the process has been turned on a professor, will there be any changes to the policy. In the professor's case, he wasn't even aware that an informal complaint has been made--but he would be subject to "monitoring." Guilty until proven innocent.
Now that the process is used against professors--will there be change? I wouldn't count on it.