Naked gauntlet ritual at Reed College now under Title IX investigation

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Small, ultra-progressive Reed College in Portland, Oregon is home to an epic three-day festival called Renn Fayre each spring but a lesser Reed tradition occurs in the fall. It involves toga-clad and occasionally naked upperclassmen who accost freshmen.

Now, the fall ritual is now under investigation over a complaint that it gives rise to a hostile learning environment for victims of sexual assault, reports The Oregonian.

The annual rite of passage occurs just prior to the first lecture of a mandatory humanities class for all freshmen. Juniors and seniors stand outside the classroom building insisting that the freshmen provide “libations” for certain gods who will then bless the freshmen for the rest of the academic year. Freshmen respond by spilling out coffee or some other swill onto the ground.

The strange custom has been going on for maybe a decade. As in previous years, some junior and seniors showed up stark naked. Also, this year a few upperclassmen were making apparently bawdy gestures. Freshmen had to pass by the scene to enter the building.

Reed’s president, John Kroger, sent an email to all students, faculty and staff members announcing the school’s investigation. He said he received a complaint from an unnamed person affiliated with Reed who charged that the annual sacrament violates Title IX.

Title IX of the Educational Amendments of 1972 forbids sex discrimination in educational programs that receive federal funding.

“I am sure the students in question believed they were engaged in harmless fun,” Kroger wrote, according to The Oregonian. “Unfortunately, the conduct of the nude students caused deep distress to some members of our community. These community members suggest that forcing prior victims of sexual assault to pass through this gauntlet in order to enter a classroom creates a hostile educational and work environment.”

It’s not clear if anyone who was made to see the sporadic nude students had actually been or even claimed to be a victim of any sexual assault. The gender of the nude students is also not clear.

The last time The Daily Caller checked in on Reed College, President Kroger had canceled two free, non-credit courses and forced the alteration of two others over fears that students could be exposed to alcohol, ordinary tobacco or information about the safe use of illegal drugs. (RELATED: Courses involving tobacco, alcohol and drugs called off, censored at Reed College)

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Tags : title ix
Eric Owens