Sunday, July 29, 2018
Autistic Student Asked for a ‘Fist Bump’ and a Selfie: He Got Two Title IX Investigations.
The College Fix reports:
A “fist bump” and a selfie may have ended Marcus Knight’s educational career right as it started.
The student, who has autism, cerebral palsy and a shunt to relieve fluid pressure on his brain, was not allowed to defend himself against allegations in two Title IX investigations this past fall, his mother told The College Fix...
The first incident occurred in the first week of September when Marcus was in the Student Services office and asked a female student working there if he could “fist bump” her. She agreed but soon filed a Title IX complaint.
The next week [Marcus'] Aurora and Marcus were asked to meet with the school’s Disabled Students Programs and Services coordinator, who allegedly called the fist bump “inappropriate behavior.” Aurora told The Fix that Marcus did not “bump” anything other than the female’s knuckles...
His mother told the coordinator that Marcus had been at the office seeking campus employment. The official allegedly said that would be “totally pointless” because Marcus was “obviously incapable” and should be taking adult disability classes instead of college classes....
She asked the coordinator “Did he touch her? Did he hug her? Did he follow her? Did he try to get her phone number? Did he expose himself?” When the coordinator allegedly said no to each, Aurora said she responded: “Then stop calling it inappropriate. He’s just trying to make a friend.”
Aurora explained to Marcus that the female student did not want to be his friend, and he agreed not to interact with her anymore.
A month later, an official who served as both vice president of student services and Title IX coordinator called the Knights into another meeting – with police present – because the female student had reported the incident as sexual harassment, according to Aurora. This official did not respond to a query from The Fix.
The student had changed her story to say Marcus hugged her, sat very close to her, grabbed her with one hand, and with the other tried to get her hands onto his upper thighs. Aurora said that did not seem physically possible, given that the female student had been sitting behind the counter. Marcus acted out what he did – a two-handed fist bump – at that meeting...
Aurora and her son were never allowed to formally defend him throughout this process, and didn’t hear back from the school between meetings except for an email from the coordinator recommending life-skills classes for Marcus, the mother told The Fix.
College staff present at the October meeting had Marcus sign an informal resolution of sexual harassment and told him not to have contact with the female student, according to Aurora...
The second incident occurred in October. (Aurora was not sure whether it happened before or after the October meeting about the first incident.)
Marcus was involved with the college’s musical theater program, and wanted to ask a female student in the program if he could take a selfie with her. According to Aurora, her son’s assistant approved him asking the question, and the female student said yes.
Aurora said that her son took two “burst pictures,” which take 100 photos with each tap of the button. She provided The Fix a copy of one of the photos. It shows Marcus halfway out of the frame, with his arm extended and his hand behind the female student’s head. She’s seated and smiling.
He was touching her shoulder with the tips of his fingers, according to Aurora. “Marcus has [cerebral palsy] on his left side. When he extend his arm, his finger automatically get [sic] hard. It’s a neurologic thing,” she said. “But it was not grabbing. It’s just how he is.”
According to a charge letter dated Dec. 1, the student reported the incident as sexual harassment, claiming that Marcus “forcefully placed [his] hand on her shoulder while taking a selfie with her.” The Title IX coordinator also said the student accused Marcus of having “followed her around” in October and taking “over 300 unauthorized pictures of her.”
In a response letter, Aurora listed several “corrections” to the allegations, saying Marcus did not take pictures “of” the student but “with” and “authorized by” her, that one time. She explained the burst function on the camera and said he accidentally turned it on. His disability made it “physically impossible” to do what the student claimed, Aurora said...
Aurora received a letter March 28 informing her that Marcus was found responsible and suspended, and she appealed days later. She told The Fix none of their evidence had been taken into consideration.
The full details are here.
at 4:28 PM