Trivializing date rape is a guaranteed way to generate outrage. American University sophomore and "classical libertarian" columnist Alex Knepper found this out the hard way. Knepper's column in The Eagle, the college newspaper, began by attacking the "emotional cripples" who he claimed helped scuttle a student's campus election campaign. Knepper's column quickly devolved into a full-throated rant concerning date rape and feminist culture in general:

Let’s get this straight: any woman who heads to an EI party as an anonymous onlooker, drinks five cups of the jungle juice, and walks back to a boy’s room with him is indicating that she wants sex, OK? To cry “date rape” after you sober up the next morning and regret the incident is the equivalent of pulling a gun to someone’s head and then later claiming that you didn’t ever actually intend to pull the trigger.

“Date rape” is an incoherent concept. There’s rape and there’s not-rape, and we need a line of demarcation. It’s not clear enough to merely speak of consent, because the lines of consent in sex — especially anonymous sex — can become very blurry. If that bothers you, then stick with Pat Robertson and his brigade of anti-sex cavemen! Don’t jump into the sexual arena if you can’t handle the volatility of its practice!

Knepper's column quickly attracted more than 400 comments on The Eagle's message board, a mixture of criticism, threats, and anger. A sample of the outrage:

The only way you could be more of a rape apologist is if you had directly said “I’m really glad you all get raped at parties and I’m not sorry at all.” It’s really sad and upsetting that you’re the only conservative voice at The Eagle, because I know a lot of conservatives at this school (and elsewhere who have read your columns) who are embarrassed to have their political viewpoints associated with you.

[...]

This column is so inflammatory it makes me wonder if the author is just trying to stir up feminists (or really any sane individuals who have feelings) and start a comments war or something like it for fun.  Guess what- it’s not fun and it’s not funny.  It is open-facedly offensive.  To say that date rape does not exist is a slap in the face to so many women, and men, in our generation.  Your definition of date rape is also horrendous.
Other student frustrations targeted AU's administration: "I am constantly amazed that the AU administration, and the folks in charge of The Eagle, continue to allow Alex Knepper to publicly proclaim his idiotic, misogynistic, and offensive views. He is an embarrassment to the AU community," wrote one commenter. Amanda Hess at Washington City Paper reports that furious students expressed their outrage by vandalizing The Eagle's newspaper dispensers and destroying copies of the paper.

The Eagle's editorial staff and the administration responded in dueling posts on The Eagle's website:
  • Goodbye Op-Eds: The Eagle's Editorial Board takes full responsibility for the lack of editorial judgment, pointing to a lack of clearly defined policies regarding the requirements for publishing such columns before suspending their op-ed page until further notice:

Because there is a high turnover of editors at college newspapers, often policies shift and change from editor to editor. As a result, some policies that should be well defined are instead a hodgepodge of previous editors’ personal policies stapled together. This has worked relatively well in the past, but has clearly reached its limit...To ensure this does not happen again, The Eagle must make a pragmatic move: understand that our columnists are partly seen to represent the newspaper and take more responsibility for what we publish. Until we have a specific policy to do this, The Eagle will be temporarily suspending the publication of all opinion columns.

  • Let's Move On  Between decrying sexual violence of any sort and praising AU students' social activism, Vice President of Student Life Gail Hanson and Provost Scott Bass look for a way forward out of the mess: "In this challenging moment, when many are searching for what they can do to address the breach that has occurred in the fabric of our community, we invite you to familiarize yourself with the university’s position on sexual misconduct and renew your personal commitment to live up to our community values ...We hope that the dialogue will continue to educate and inform the AU community about our values and the standards of conduct we expect of our community members."