In any case, plausibility isn't proof, obviously, and reading Epifano's "wrenching account," you can't possibly evaluate the accuracy of her perceptions or recollections. Neither, it seems, can the New York Times, which reports that she is in Europe ("friends say") and could not be reached for comment.
But accepting her statement of the facts, you can evaluate her beliefs about how alleged rape victims and rape accusations should be treated. Epifano says that she was raped by a fellow student in May 2011 and reported the attack about a year later, this past spring, to a college sexual assault counselor. She says her counselor questioned her rather skeptically, asking if "it might just have been a bad hook-up." Her request to change dorms was denied, she was advised to "forgive and forget," and assured that her fears of being raped again were unfounded and that she was safe remaining on campus.
The counselor reportedly discouraged Epifano from pressing charges, because her alleged attacker was about to graduate and a disciplinary hearing might not vindicate her claim. Accompanied only by a faculty adviser, she would have to face him (and his faculty adviser) and prove that he had raped her. "It wouldn't get you very far to do this," she reports being told.
Put aside questions about the accuracy of Epifano's recollections and the soundness or gross insensitivity of the counselor's advice. Never mind the absence of discussion about reporting the alleged attack to law enforcement; rape is, after all, a felony, which courts are better equipped to address than colleges. Focus instead on Epifano's reaction to the prospect of a disciplinary hearing:
Hours locked in a room with him and being called a liar about being raped? No, thank you. I could barely handle seeing him from the opposite end of campus; I knew I couldn't handle that level of negativity.
I sympathize with Epifano's feelings but still wonder: If she wasn't willing or able to testify against her alleged attacker in an informal hearing, if she wasn't capable of handling questions about her accusations, what did she expect administrators to do? Simply take her word that a rape had occurred a year earlier and punish her "rapist" (perhaps by expelling him) without giving him a chance to confront his accuser and present his side of the story?
In fact, if Amherst was in compliance with federal Department of Education guidelines, the burden of proof on Epifano would have been slight, and she could have been shielded from questioning by her alleged attacker. A 2011 directive from the Department's Office for Civil Rights errs on the side of protecting the accuser's feelings in these cases, instead of the rights of the accused. OCR requires colleges and universities to use a preponderance of evidence standard in evaluating allegations of sexual assault. That is the lowest possible standard of proof, requiring a hearing officer to be only "50.01% certain" that the accused is guilty as charged.