Wednesday, May 11, 2016
Study Documents Title IX's Significant Shift from a Law for Athletics to a Law for Sexual Harassment
Title IX has been widely recognized as a crucial step toward gender equality in America. Yet it remains unclear how the law actually functions, particularly how it has been used in response to gender disparities in higher education. This article provides the first systematic analysis of how Title IX has been mobilized at the postsecondary level. Drawing on new data acquired through seven Freedom of Information Act requests, I analyze all resolved Title IX complaints filed with the Office of Civil Rights against four-year nonprofit colleges and universities from 1994 to 2014 (N=6,654). I find that the mobilization of Title IX has changed both in frequency and in kind during this period. Filings started to rise after 2000 and exploded after 2009, while sexual harassment complaints nearly equaled academic and athletic filings for the first time in 2014. Finally, despite the egalitarian design of the complaint process, private schools and more selective schools face a disproportionate number of complaints relative to enrollment, indicating the power of institutions in mediating legal mobilization.
Title IX, the U.S. civil rights law that prohibits sex discrimination in federally funded education programs, has been called one of the most significant steps toward gender equality in the last century. Yet research on how the law has been used in response to perceived gender disparities in the academy is lacking. There are recent indications that the mobilization of Title IX—in the form of complaints filed against allegedly noncompliant colleges and universities with the Office of Civil Rights (OCR), the primary federal administrative agency responsible for implementing the law—has both increased dramatically and shifted from an emphasis on fostering gender equity in athletics to policing sexual harassment and assault on campus. But there has been no comprehensive analysis of this shift, or of the law’s mobilization more generally, and therefore we have little sense of if and how it took place. How has Title IX been mobilized to combat gender inequalities in higher education? Is it deployed broadly or only to address some forms of sex discrimination in certain types of institutions? Is its use consistent or contradictory?
This paper provides the first systematic analysis of how Title IX has been mobilized at the postsecondary level over the last two decades. I draw from a new data set I constructed using information acquired through seven Freedom of Information Act requests filed over 18 months. The data include all resolved postsecondary Title IX complaints filed with OCR against allegedly noncompliant schools from 1994 to 2014. Using these data, I seek to rigorously map the phenomenon. . . .
I find that over the last two decades the number of Title IX complaints filed against four year nonprofit institutions skyrockets in 1999 and again starting in 2013. Individuals engaged in mass filings are responsible for both spikes. Net of this effect, I find that the number of Title IX complaints has trended upward since 2000, exploding after 2009 and reaching a record high in 2014. Complaints citing discrimination in academics were the modal type of complaint filed for most of the last 20 years, until 2014 when sexual harassment, academics, and athletics complaints reached near parity. I also find that the mobilization of Title IX is institutionally uneven: relative to overall enrollment, a disproportionate number of complaints are filed against private, more selective institutions located in states with high numbers of women serving in state legislatures.
Tuesday, May 3, 2016
Today's series of posts include several writings thinking through the different angles and permutations of sexual assault.
Aya Gruber, Anti-Rape Culture, Kansas L.Rev. (forthcoming)
Abstract:This essay, written for the Kansas Law Review Symposium on Campus Sexual Assault, critically analyzes “anti-rape culture” ― a set of empirical claims about rape’s prevalence, causes, and effects and a set of normative ideas about sex, gender, and institutional authority ― which has heralded a new era of discipline, in all senses of the word, on college campuses. In the past few years, publicity about the campus rape crisis has created widespread anxiety, despite the fact that incidents of sexual assault have generally declined and one-in-four-type statistics have been around for decades. The recent surge of interest is due less to an escalation of rape culture than to a new found anti-rape culture ― a distinctly feminist rape intolerance. Feminist political activism is normally ground for progressive rejoicing and, indeed, society should be rape intolerant. However, here, one might wonder whether feminism has reincarnated as a single-issue movement that centers on punishing sex ranging from violent to ambiguous and embraces illiberal positions and institutions. The essay focuses on the costs of anti-rape culture’s construction of the status quo as one in which at least a quarter of college women will be brutalized by a sexual predator and left traumatized, possibly for life. In addition to creating the risk that the sex that college women inevitably have is a minefield of mental distress, the rhetorical strategy has other costs, including punitive over-correction, bureaucratic management of students stripped of their subjectivity, and speech restrictions. In the end, the essay counsels reformers to be cautious lest their commendable concern for safety and equality creates a culture in which drunken sex is ruinous to women, administrative power distributes burdens randomly, or worse, to marginalized men, and silence is the norm in an area desperate for open discussion.
Friday, April 29, 2016
Katharine Baker (Chicago-Kent), Campus Sexual Misconduct as Sexual Harassment: A Defense of the DOE, Kansas L.Rev. (forthcoming)
Abstract:This article explains and defends the Department of Education’s campaign against sexual misconduct on college campuses. It does so because DOE has inexplicably failed to make clear that their goal is to protect women from the intimidating and hostile environment that results when men routinely use women sexually, without regard to whether women consent to the sexual activity. That basic point, that schools are policing harassing and intimidating behavior, not necessarily rape, has been lost on both courts and commentators. Boorish, entitled, sexual behavior that stops well short of rape, if pervasive enough, has been actionable as sexual harassment for decades. The failure to understand the theory of university regulation is problematic not only because it leads courts to ask the wrong questions when reviewing university tribunals, but also because it blinds both courts and commentators to the hard questions that follow from a theory of sexual harassment. First, evidence from both sides in cases of college sexual misconduct is likely to lack credibility and critical detail. Reasonable minds will differ on whether the complainant’s or the accused’s story is more accurate. What should college tribunals do in close cases, allow for findings of liability, as is permitted by the civil law of discrimination (and harassment), or require more proof, as is required by the criminal law and some college codes of conduct? Second, while many women on college campuses feel insulted and demeaned by the culture of male sexual entitlement, most women - by their own admission - are probably not being irreparably injured. If DOE’s policy is to be justified it is probably not on grounds that women are so severely hurt by men’s sense of their own sexual entitlement, but because that sense of entitlement undermines the norms of respect, civility and equality that university’s routinely enforce in other contexts. Is it worth curtailing men’s (entitled sense of) sexual freedom to enforce those norms?
Wednesday, April 27, 2016
Having been on both sides of this administrative coin, I found these suggestions particularly instructive.
Chronicle of Higher Ed, The Top 5 Faculty Morale Killers. The 5 things not to do as a manager of faculty:
- Micromanagement. People don’t generally like to have someone looking over their shoulder and telling them what to do all the time, especially intelligent, highly trained professional
- Trust issues. Faculty members interpret micromanagement as lack of trust. We assume that it means our leaders simply don’t have enough faith in our ability or enough of a commitment to allow us to do our work as we see fit. Few things are more insulting than that to academics.
- Hogging the spotlight. The success of an organization is rarely attributable to any one person. And yet it’s natural for leaders to want to take much of the credit....There are several behaviors leaders must learn that don’t necessarily come naturally, and one of those is deflecting praise.
- The blame game. Besides deflecting praise when things go right, leaders must also learn to accept the lion’s share of the blame when things go wrong
- Blatant careerism. Finally, we come to one of my own personal pet peeves: Academic leaders whose sole ambition in life is to climb as high as possible on the administrative ladder and who are willing to do literally anything to achieve that ambition
Sunday, April 24, 2016
Slowing down into deliberate and thoughtful academic work as the antidote to the corporatization of the university.
In a new book, two tenured professors propose applying the “slow movement” -- which has thus far been applied to everything from food to parenting to science to sex -- to academic work. And while it’s already raised some eyebrows as an example of “tenured privilege,” it’s at once an important addition and possible antidote to the growing literature on the corporatization of the university.
***“While slowness has been celebrated in architecture, urban life and personal relations, it has not yet found its way into education,” reads Slow Professor: Challenging the Culture of Speed in the Academy (University of Toronto Press). “Yet, if there is one sector of society which should be cultivating deep thought, it is academic teachers. Corporatization has compromised academic life and sped up the clock. The administrative university is concerned above all with efficiency, resulting in a time crunch and making those of us subjected to it feel powerless.”
In a corporate university, argues Slow Professor, “power is transferred from faculty to managers, economic justifications dominate, and the familiar ‘bottom line’ eclipses pedagogical and intellectual concerns.” But slow professors nevertheless “advocate deliberation over acceleration” because they “need time to think, and so do our students. Time for reflection and open-ended inquiry is not a luxury but is crucial to what we do.”
Instead, Slow Professor proposes with some optimism that professors -- especially those with tenure -- have the power to change the direction of the university by becoming the eye of the storm, working deliberately and thoughtfully in ways that somehow now seem taboo.
“Distractedness and fragmentation characterize contemporary academic life; we believe that slow ideals restore a sense of community and conviviality … which sustain political resistance,” Berg and Seeber say. “Slow professors act with purpose, cultivating emotional and intellectual resilience to the effects of the corporatization of higher education.”
Slow Professor proposes getting off-line as much as possible and doing less by thinking of scheduling as eliminating commitment’s from one’s day, not taking them on. Perhaps most importantly, it proposes leaving room in one’s schedule for regular “timeless time,” starting with some kind of relaxing, transitional ritual. Incorporate playfulness and shun those negative self-thoughts.
And don’t forget leaving time to do nothing at all, the book says.
In a separate discussion on “pedagogy and pleasure,” Slow Professor advocates for the in-person classroom model over online. It argues that teaching is an undeniably emotional activity for which one should be physically present, and that students also benefit from working face-to-face with their peers.
“It is neither frivolous nor incidental that to ensure that we enjoy ourselves in the classroom: it may be crucial to creating an environment in which students learn,” the book reads.
Slow Professor also addresses research pressures, saying that slow scholarship must stand against perverse incentives for publication or a rush to “findings” at the expense of scholarly value. Noting how one of the authors’ colleagues was once admiringly referred to as a “machine,” the book questions the very way in which academics talk about one another’s productivity, saying, “Slowing down is a matter of ethical import. To drive oneself as if one were a machine should be recognized as a form of self-harm. … Furthermore, being machine-like will hardly generate compassion for others.”
Overwork can make colleagues jealous, impatient and rushed,Slow Professor reads, while slowing down “is about allowing room for others and otherness. And in that sense, slowing down is an ethical choice.”
Saturday, April 23, 2016
She is a feminist to her bones, and gives no quarter to the kind of historical relativism that ringfences the brutality of the past as something natural and unremarkable, like eating songbirds. “It’s very hard to get positive female role models in the history of the Roman empire. You think you’ve got one, and then, oh no. She’s been raped. And killed herself. If you’re going to remove the sexual violence, you cannot tell the story of Rome.”She is resolute on her purpose in public life, and has no qualms about the distinction of scholarship: “What is the role of an academic, no matter what they’re teaching, within political debate? It has to be that they make issues more complicated. The role of the academic is to make everything less simple.”
Monday, April 18, 2016
If trends continue, women will outnumber men in law schools in 2017, according to a legal blog’s analysis of ABA statistics.
According to Associate’s Mind, the percentage decline in students attending law school is greater for men than women. From 2011 to 2015, the number of men attending law school dropped by 25.59 percent, while the number of women attending law school dropped by 17.31 percent.
From 2014 to 2015, the number of men going to law school dropped by 5 percent, while the number of women dropped by 3 percent. If those one-year percentage drops continue into 2016, there will be 132 more men than women attending law school. “Extrapolate that out one more year,” the blog says, “and women will outnumber men in law schools for the first time ever.”
The blog also found the number of law schools with more women than men is increasing. In 2011, 38 law schools had more women students enrolled than men. In 2015, 85 law schools had more women students enrolled than men. This chart has the breakdown.
Monday, April 11, 2016
Jacob E. Gersen (Harvard) & Jeannie Suk (Harvard), The Sex Bureaucracy, California L. Rev. (forthcoming)
Abstract:We are living in a new sex bureaucracy. Saliently decriminalized in the past decades, sex has at the same time become accountable to bureaucracy. In this Article, we focus on higher education to tell the story of the sex bureaucracy. The story is about the steady expansion of regulatory concepts of sex discrimination and sexual violence to the point that the regulated area comes to encompass ordinary sex. The mark of bureaucracy is procedure and organizational form. Over time, federal prohibitions against sex discrimination and sexual violence have been interpreted to require educational institutions to adopt particular procedures to respond, prevent, research, survey, inform, investigate, adjudicate, and train. The federal bureaucracy essentially required nongovernmental institutions to create mini-bureaucracies, and to develop policies and procedures that are subject to federal oversight. That oversight is not merely, as currently assumed, of sexual harassment and sexual violence, but also of sex itself. We call this “bureaucratic sex creep” — the enlargement of bureaucratic regulation of sexual conduct that is voluntary, non-harassing, nonviolent, and does not harm others. At a moment when it is politically difficult to criticize any undertaking against sexual assault, we are writing about the bureaucratic leveraging of sexual violence and harassment policy to regulate ordinary sex. An object of our critique is the bureaucratic tendency to merge sexual violence and sexual harassment with ordinary sex, and thus to trivialize a very serious problem. We worry that the sex bureaucracy is counterproductive to the goal of actually addressing the harms of rape, sexual assault, and sexual harassment. Our purpose is to guide the reader through the landscape of the sex bureaucracy so that its development and workings can be known and debated.
However, a 10-year study looked at rapes and sexual assaults between 2001 and 2011 occurring on Massachusetts’ college and university campuses – including dorms, apartments and fraternity houses. The study found that 81 percent of all reported rapes and assaults occurred in the dorms, 9 percent occurred in houses or apartments and only 4 percent occurred in fraternity houses.
When colleges fail to examine where assaults happen, they expose themselves to litigation. More importantly, they miss critical opportunities to explore solutions to the widespread campus sexual assault problem.
Schools should look closely at their own sexual assault reports and consider targeted solutions if there are particular dorms with a high incidence of assaults.
Studies should be conducted at the national level to examine overall patterns. Those studies should examine questions such as whether sexual assaults are more likely to occur in certain types of dorms, such as athlete dorms or even coed dorms. Studies should also look at whether it makes a difference if dorms are coed by floor, by hall or by room.
[This post is an excerpt from a longer article originally posted on The Conversation. The full article can be accessed here: https://theconversation.com/what-schools-dont-tell-you-about-campus-sexual-assault-57163]
Tuesday, March 8, 2016
Challenging conventional wisdom is one thing; saying things that are historically inaccurate, inflammatory and racist is another. How much does academic freedom actually cover? If a history professor says something fundamentally wrong about a historical fact — such as misidentifying who staged the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks — is that person’s views covered by academic freedom or is that a question of professional competence? What if a poetry professor says the same thing?
While the real protections offered under the principle vary from campus to campus, faculty work is at least founded on the idea that there’s room to express even unpopular ideas or beliefs. But are arguably unacademic opinions — inflammatory falsehoods that have no apparent basis in fact — also covered? A recent case at Oberlin College raises questions about whether all ideas are created equal when it comes to academic freedom.
For the American Association of University Professors, the distinction is one of disciplinary expertise and professional competence, said Hans-Joerg Tiede, associate secretary in the department of academic freedom, tenure and governance. If, for example, a physics professor declared on Twitter that the Sept. 11 attacks were a hoax, AAUP would advocate for the professor’s right to free speech in extramural utterances (it doesn’t distinguish between free speech in person or online). But if the physics professor declared that the world is flat, denying all scientific evidence to the contrary, that could call into question his or her professional fitness.
“There’s a somewhat strange consequence that the less something relates to your discipline, the more protected you are on a general level,” Tiede said. “The closer something is to your area of expertise, you must in some sense be more careful that what you say doesn’t create concerns.”
Friday, March 4, 2016
Kif Augustine-Adams (BYU), Religious Exemptions to Title IX
Abstract:Forty years into the Title IX game, the score is 253 to 0, religious exemptions recognized versus those denied. Almost no one knows the overall score of the game, who has made points, or who is playing. Prior to the Human Rights Campaign’s release of a report in December 2015, relatively few beyond the participants themselves even knew the game was played. Documented religious exemptions to Title IX largely take place in the dark, in private administrative processes rarely made public, under obscure agency standards and policies. The parameters of religious exemptions to Title IX have never been litigated in court or subjected to judicial review. Virtually no scholarship exists on the subject. Religious exemptions to Title IX pose a particularly urgent question given the flood of new exemptions claims focusing on transgender and homosexuality. This analysis is a first, foundational step in evaluating religious exemptions to Title IX.
On its face, a score of 253 and counting, suggests complete and overwhelming victory for one side, the educational institutions claiming religious exemption to Title IX. In reality, however, the lopsided score hides another story, one much more complex and nuanced than the score reflects. Over time, the government agency charged with Title IX enforcement subtly arrogated to itself power and authority to regulate religious exemption to Title IX. As much as victory, the score reveals a subtle erosion of autonomy as religious educational institutions acquiesce to the administrative state by requesting exemption under regulatory procedures rather than claiming inherent exemption under the Title IX statute itself and the Constitution. I conclude that the administrative regulatory procedures for religious exemption to Title IX have largely failed to accomplish the non-discrimination goals of Title IX, to respect religious liberties, or to facilitate a sustainable engagement between these potentially competing values.
Thursday, February 4, 2016
Nancy Chi Cantalupo (Barry), For the Title IX Civil Rights Movement: Congratulations and Cautions, Yale Law Journal Forum (forthcoming).
Abstract:The Yale Law Journal's September 25, 2015 Conversation on Title IX confirmed the existence of a new civil rights movement in our nation and our schools, led by smart, courageous survivors of gender-based violence and joined by multiple generations of anti-gender-based violence activists, attorneys, leaders, and scholars. Movement leaders have wisely chosen Title IX as their particular banner and organizing point. As a civil rights statute, Title IX guarantees broad rights to an equal education, and although schools' compliance with Title IX and the statute's enforcement still require significant improvements, today's movement can build upon a legal foundation established by previous waves of the pro-equality and anti-gender-based violence movements.
But in doing so, the Title IX movement must remain vigilant against pushes to criminalize Title IX. Suggestions that gender-based violence which violates Title IX can be punished like criminal offenses and that Title IX proceedings should therefore follow the procedures of the criminal justice system conflate Title IX with criminal laws against rape and sexual assault. This conflation fundamentally undermines Title IX's central purpose: to protect and promote equal educational opportunity for all students, including both the alleged perpetrators and the victims of gender-based violence.
Tuesday, December 29, 2015
Table of Contents:
Section One: Approaches to Motherhood, Feminism and Gendered Work
The Role of Theory in Understanding the Lived Experiences of Mothering in the Academy
Andrea N. Hunt
Crying over “Split Milk”: How Divisive Language on Infant Feeding Leads to Stress, Confusion and Anxiety for Mothers
Tracy Rundstrom Williams
Mama’s Boy: Feminist Mothering, Masculinity, and White Privilege
Catherine A.F. MacGillivray
Encountering Others: Reading, Writing, Teaching, Parenting
Erin Tremblay Ponnou-Delaffon
A Qualitative Study of Academic Mothers’ Sabbatical Experiences: Considering Disciplinary Differences
Susan V. Iverson
Motherhood: Reflection, Design, and Self-Authorship
Cynthia J. Atman
Confessions of a Buzzkill: Critical Feminist Parenting in the Age of Omnipresent Media
Section Two: Identity and Performance in Academic Motherhood
More Mother than Others: Disorientations, Motherscholars, and Objects in Becoming
Sara M. Childers
Doing Research and Teaching on Masculinities and Violence: One Mother of Sons’ Perspective
M. Cristine Alcalde, Associate Professor of Gender & Women’s Studies
Cultural Border Crossings between Science, Science Pedagogy & Parenting
“You Must be Superwoman!”: How Graduate Student Mothers Negotiate Conflicting Roles
Erin Graybill Ellis
Jessica Smartt Gullion
“There’s a Monster Growing in our Heads”: Mad Men’s Betty Draper, Fan Reaction, and Twenty-First Century Anxiety about Motherhood
Section Three: Bringing it to Light: Giving Voice to Motherhood’s Challenges
Silence and the Stillbirth Narrative: Stories Worth Telling
Elisabeth G. Kraus
A Tapestry of Sweet Mother(hood): African Scholar, Mother, and Performer?
Ama Oforiwaa Aduonum
Dropped Stitches: Classrooms, Caregiving, and Cancer
Martha Kalnin Diede
The Other Female Complaint: Online Narratives of Assisted Reproductive Therapy as Sentimental Literature
Mama’s Boy: Feminist Mothering, Masculinity, and White Privilege
Catherine A.F. MacGillivray
Thursday, November 5, 2015
Federal education officials have ruled that an Illinois school would illegally discriminate against a transgender student if they did notlet her use the girls’ locker room without restrictions, rejecting a plan to have her change beyond privacy curtains. Students leda walk out of a Missouri school earlier this year when a transgender girl started using the girl’s locker room. “Some girls already have insecurity problems getting dressed in front of other girls as it is,” one student said.
Can transgender equality be protected while still recognizing student concerns about privacy in a locker room, or do such accommodations create inequality?
Tuesday, October 27, 2015
The AALS Women in Legal Education Section announced that Professor Marina Angel (Temple University Beasley School of Law) will be awarded the 2016 Ruth Bader Ginsburg Lifetime Achievement Award.
Her bio details her extensive accomplishments and leadership of women in the profession. "A Temple law professor for nearly 40 years, Professor Angel’s scholarship, teaching, advocacy, and service truly embody the spirit and purpose of this distinction."
My favorites of her work are:
Susan Glaspell's Trifles and A Jury of Her Peers: Woman Abuse in a Literary and Legal Context, 45 Buffalo L. Rev. 779 (1997)
Criminal Law and Women: Giving the Abused Woman Who Kills A Jury of Her Peers Who Appreciate Trifles, 33 AM. CRIM. L. REV. 229 (1996).
Teaching Susan Glaspell's A Jury of Her Peers and Trifles, 53 J. of Legal Education 548 (2003)
Monday, October 19, 2015
Colleges and universities in the U.S. are now required to disclose incidents of domestic and dating violence, such as stalking, in their annual crime reports, thanks to a sexual assault reform bill that went into effect this academic year.
Introduced by Democratic Pennsylvania Senator Robert Casey and Democratic New York Representative Carolyn Maloney, The Campus Sexual Violence Elimination Act (SaVE Act) is among the more substantial updates to the Jeanne Clery Act, the 1990 sexual assault prevention bill requiring colleges and universities that receive federal funding to disclose campus crime data like rape, assault and robbery.
Thursday, October 15, 2015
Last month, Michigan became the latest state legislature to introduce a “Yes Means Yes” law, mandating the teaching of affirmative consent as a sexual standard. In the past year, affirmative consent has become the mandated standard on college campuses in New York and California and is being voluntarily adopted by a growing number universities beyond those two states. The idea is simple: In matters of sex, silence or indifference aren’t consent. Only a freely given “yes” counts. And if you can’t tell, you have to ask.
Every time one of these bills is introduced, a certain subset of adults freaks out. Earlier this year, as the spring semester got underway and these new policies took hold on some campuses, Robert Carle, writing for libertarian outlet Reason, shrieked that “[a]ffirmative consent laws turn normal human interactions into sexual offenses,” as if there’s anything “normal” about a disinterest in whether or not the person you’re having sex with is a willing participant. In the New York Times, Judith Shulevitz dismissed the new standard because “[m]ost people just aren’t very talkative during the delicate tango that precedes sex, and the re-education required to make them more forthcoming would be a very big project,” an assertion for which she provides no evidence. But if students aren’t yet used to practicing affirmative consent, that’s no argument against it. Marital rape used to be both popular and legal, and we didn’t wait until everyone had stopped committing it to institute new laws. And in the Boston Globe, Wendy Kaminer protests that “in practice [affirmative consent standards] aim to protect women from the predations of men,” even though, as even she acknowledges, the standard is gender neutral. (More on that in a moment.)
All the grownup scaremongering is drowning out one important fact: Young people are embracing affirmative consent.
Tuesday, September 22, 2015
Wash Post, What a Massive Sexual Assault Survey Found at 27 Top US Universities (summarizing the results).
The Association of American Universities’ much-anticipated report on sexual assault—a survey that compiled responses from more than 150,000 students at 27 universities—is out today, and it confirms that the situation on campus is as bad as you probably already thought it was. Some bullet points:
• One-third of female college seniors reported that they had been the victims of nonconsensual sexual contact at least once since enrolling in college.
These numbers are roughly consistent with findings of previous studies; if anything, they’re a little higher than the results of the seminal 2007 study that gave us the grim axiom “1-in-5.”—but the authors acknowledge that could be due to the low response rate of 19.3 percent, and the possibility that people who’d experienced misconduct were more likely to participate. As always, the authors had to deal with the challenge of conveying uniform definitions in an area where every experience is intensely individual; for this reason, they didn’t use loaded words such as rape and assault, instead trying to precisely describe situations. But this could’ve caused confusion as well as averted it.
The most interesting thing in the AAU study isn’t what’s on the page, but a question that hovers, frustratingly, between the lines. “The study found a wide range of variation across the 27 [institutions],” the authors write in the executive summary
Friday, September 11, 2015
As the “yes means yes” standard of sexual conduct spreads to many US college campuses, California legislators have passed a new measure that will put affirmative consent curriculum into the state’s high schools beginning next year.
The legislation will require high schools that have a health component as a graduation requirement to teach the “different forms of sexual harassment and violence”, and include lessons on seeking explicit, affirmative permission from a partner before moving forward with sexual activity. The bill, SB695, is now awaiting the signature of the governor to become law, expected in the coming days. California would be the first state in the nation to adopt a mandatory education policy on the topic for K-12 students.
Tuesday, September 1, 2015
Inside Higher Ed, Ban on Banning Words
Washington State University on Monday announced that it would not allow instructors to make "blanket" bans on the use of certain words or phrases in class, even if those words and phrases offend people. Further, the university said that instructors could not punish students for use of such words or phrases.
The announcement followed a barrage of criticism of the syllabus for Women & Popular Culture, a women's studies course, that banned specific words and phrases and set out punishments for their use.
Here is the language on the syllabus:
"Gross generalizations, stereotypes and derogatory/oppressive language are not acceptable. Use of racist, sexist, homophobic, transphobic, xenophobic, classist or generally offensive language in class or submission of such material will not be tolerated. (This includes 'The Man,' 'Colored People,' 'Illegals/Illegal Aliens,' 'Tranny' and so on -- or referring to women/men as females or males.) If I see it or hear it, I will correct it in class since it can be a learning moment for many students. Repeated use of oppressive and hateful language will be handled accordingly -- including but not limited to removal from the class without attendance or participation points, failure of the assignment, and -- in extreme cases -- failure for the semester."
This summer has seen several instances in which websites of various college or university groups have featured language discouraging the use of words and phrases that many find offensive. There was much discussion in July about the "bias-free language guide" at the University of New Hampshire, but UNH never actually banned any words or phrases. One office published some recommendations for those seeking to avoid offending others, and most people at UNH didn't know that the guide existed until it was debated nationally -- and the university affirmed that there was no requirement to follow its suggestions.
In the Washington State syllabus, however, there was a specific statement that the instructor could punish any students using the banned words and phrases. And that appears to have led the university (which, as a public institution, must provide First Amendment protections) to get involved. The university statement said that it was asking all faculty members to review their policies "to ensure that students’ right to freedom of expression is protected along with a safe and productive learning environment."