Phi Beta Cons

Assault and Murder at University of Texas

A young woman, Haruka Weiser, was murdered on the University of Texas campus in Austin earlier this month. The 18-year-old first-year dance student was walking at night from the drama building to her dormitory through an evidently dark and secluded area of the campus when she was grabbed, sexually assaulted, and strangled to death by an apparently homeless black youth, only 17 years old. Although the whole country has been put on notice about the ubiquity of sexual assault on our campuses, starting with the executive and legislative branches of our national government and descending to every college in the country, very little example has been made of this case of actual sexual assault and murder.

Ironically, an off-duty police officer gave the young man, Meechaiel Criner, a ride to Austin when he found him in a convenience store in Georgetown, Texas, where he had been hanging around for some hours, and even sleeping at one point, according to the owner. Although on the way to Austin, the police officer even brought Meechaiel to a hospital to have his blistered feet attended to, he evidently did not think to ask why a minor, who it turns out, was missing from foster care, should be drifting aimlessly around southern Texas or what business he had in Austin. “It is a sad joke in the community of law enforcement that if you have a problem child or someone homeless, drop them off in Austin and they will be taken care of there,” said Ken Casaday, president of the Austin Police Association. Taken care of, but not prevented from doing harm, it seems. Austin has a large homeless population, a significant portion of which is under 24 years of age, and provides extensive resources for them, resources which now include, for Meechaiel Criner, top flight legal defense. 

What should we register from this example? That there is actual danger, not so much from all the professors and male students targeted by specious harassment complaints, but more perhaps from outsiders, including aimless drifters, who can apparently roam freely on our huge unpoliced campuses. Perhaps female students especially should be instructed to take precautions and the schools also should be aware of certain circumstances which might be dangerous for students — such as walking home after evening events — and allocate security at certain times and in certain places. UT Austin is now evidently putting some such measures in place, and we can only hope that these are not just temporary measure to appease temporary fears. But we do not hear much of this nationwide. Only for professors to be told that they must report complaints of even stray remarks or looks to the Title IX authorities, or for panels of inquisitors to determine whether or not the students’ drunken couplings are sufficiently “consensual.”

Could it be that the complex and tyrannical sexual harassment apparatus in place on our campuses today is not serious about protecting women, but is really a feminist power play, a way of creating a bureaucracy designed to keep men under tight and punitive control?