In a letter sent yesterday to the University of Montana that explicitly states that it is intended as "a blueprint for colleges and universities throughout the country," the Departments of Justice and Education have mandated a breathtakingly broad definition of sexual harassment that makes virtually every student in the United States a harasser while ignoring the First Amendment. The mandate applies to every college receiving federal funding—virtually every American institution of higher education nationwide, public or private.
The letter states that "sexual harassment should be more broadly defined as 'any unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature'" including "verbal conduct" (that is, speech). It then explicitly states that allegedly harassing expression need not even be offensive to an "objectively reasonable person of the same gender in the same situation"—if the listener takes offense to sexually related speech for any reason, no matter how irrationally or unreasonably, the speaker may be punished.
Well, I'm glad they didn't have this rule while I was in college or I'd probably still be a virgin. I especially like the part that makes it a subjective standard. Yo, it's on you dude to figure out in advance whether your intended will welcome your advance or whether your comment, remark, or even meaningful silence will be taken by her (or him! or them!) to be sexual in nature. In seeming response, modern hook-up culture seems to involve young persons milling around like random particles that interact briefly then move on, to their apparent and not surprising dissatisfaction, never exchanging anything more meaningful than a 'whatever'. I thought my college experience with, uh, persons of the opposite gender was a disaster. With these rules, it would have been a disaster with legal consequences. It's no wonder kids just stick to the internet. --ts