The U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) announced today that it has entered into a resolution agreement with Princeton University in Princeton, New Jersey, to ensure compliance with Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 as it applies to sexual harassment and violence. The action follows an OCR investigation which found Princeton to be in violation of Title IX. . .
OCR’s investigation determined Princeton to be in violation of Title IX for failing to promptly and equitably respond to complaints of sexual violence, including sexual assault, and also failing to end the sexually hostile environment for one student. In addition, the policies and procedures used by the university to investigate and respond to assaults and violence did not comply with Title IX.
However, OCR concluded that the university did comply with Title IX by designating and providing notice of its Title IX coordinator and by providing and publicizing compliant notices of nondiscrimination. OCR’s probe was based on complaints filed on behalf of university students.
This fall, Princeton implemented new consolidated policies and procedures that correct many of the deficiencies identified in OCR’s investigation. . .
Princeton found in violation of Title IX, reaches agreement with OCR November 6, 2014
On knowing and doing nothing November 4, 2014
A thoughtful rumination on knowledge, complicity and responsibility.
Some of your friends knew the accused parties. Some knew the aggrieved women. Not all of the stories were straightforward. Some friends felt torn about accounts being aired online, in public, destroying reputations—about whether to call certain incidents “rape.” Others had no such hesitations. Tempers flared.
What do you do, you thought then, about actions that make women feel unsafe, violated, but do not cross the line of criminality? About gray zones? About the creeps in your midst?
Now, you think: If something seems kind of wrong, it is all too possible that it is very wrong…
If things are fuzzy, the human default is often to do nothing. It’s genuinely difficult to conceive and accept that something extreme may be happening, unless you witness it firsthand. Unless it happens to you. And as some of the women’s accounts make clear, it can be hard to absorb even then.
The worst thing, you realize, is that you tended to look down on [his] conquests. As if anyone who fell for his come-ons was a fool, instead of merely lacking the advantage of inside knowledge.
No wonder the women didn’t hope to be taken seriously. No wonder most filed no grievances, and none of them laid charges, nor spoke out in public, until they learned they were not alone. They expected not to be believed, and worse, that they would be hounded and humiliated
It’s about Jian Ghomeshi, and journalism. But we all know it could just as well be about philosophy.
The Daily Camera reports that David Barnett has filed a notice of claim against the University of Colorado, alleging, among other things, “that DiStefano and philosophy professor Alison Jaggar knowingly made false and disparaging statements about him, beginning last year.”
Only three tenured professors have been fired in the university’s 138-year history. All three — Ward Churchill, R. Igor Gamow and Mahinder Uberoi — took legal action against the university in connection with their firings.
“This is a normal procedural move by Barnett’s attorney,” CU’s O’Rourke said. “Whenever the university attempts to take disciplinary action against a tenured faculty member, we get accused of violating that faculty member’s rights, and it’s an effort to shift the attention away from what the faculty member did.”
To be dismissed, a tenured faculty member must demonstrate professional incompetence, neglect of duty, insubordination, conviction of a felony, sexual harassment or moral turpitude, a legal term often defined as an act that violates accepted moral standards.
At the core of CU’s attempt to fire Barnett is a 38-page report he sent to DiStefano and CU President Bruce Benson after learning that a male graduate student had been found responsible for sexually assaulting a female graduate student. . .
Barnett said he was acting as a whistleblower by reporting “willful misconduct” by the office that investigated the alleged assault. Barnett and CU have declined to provide the Camera with Barnett’s 38-page report.
The woman, however, claimed that Barnett began his own investigation into the sexual assault, and talked to other members of the philosophy department about the woman’s marital history and sexual behavior.
Instagram account highlights online harassment of women November 3, 2014
Alexandra Tweten created an instagram account that compiles screen shots of harassing messages directed at women in retaliation for rejection.
After seeing these disturbing messages grouped together, it’s easy to come to the conclusion that our society has a misogyny problem. The same forces that taught Elliot Roger that he was justified in murdering women for rejecting him, the cultural atmosphere that says it’s OK for hundreds of men to catcall any woman in a public space, the thing that drives men to brutally injure women who ignore them are all connected to the sense of toxic entitlement some men possess.
While Bye Felipe (a take on the meme “Bye Felicia”) uses humor to take away some of the power these insults may carry, I also like to point folks to the Tumblr “When Women Refuse,” which chronicles the serious problem of actual violence women experience at the hands of men who have been rejected.
I have been asked multiple times, “What’s the answer to this? What can these dating sites do to curb this problem?” And I struggle to answer, because this is just a symptom of a larger problem. Censoring these messages may help in the short term, but the messages featured on Bye Felipe are like an immortalized version of the catcalls and threats women receive on the the street every day, just walking around and existing. Until we change the cultural atmosphere, women will continue to receive these hurtful messages online and in real life.
Mary Spears, 27, was at the American Legion Joe Louis Post No. 375 on the east side of Detroit when the 38-year-old suspect allegedly approached her and began talking to her, according to WDIV.
When the suspect asked for her number, Spears, whose fiancé was also at the event, told him she was already involved with someone, WJBK reports. The suspect, however, continued harassing her, family members told the station.
Police said security took the man out of the club through the back door and escorted him to the front. After a fight broke out, the suspect allegedly took out a handgun and began shooting, killing Spears around 2 a.m. Sunday.
10 hours, more than 100 cat-calls October 29, 2014
Street harassment disproportionately impacts women, people of color, LGBTQ individuals, and young people. Although the degree to which Shoshana gets harassed is shocking — the reality is that the harassment that people of color and LGBTQ individuals face is oftentimes more severe and more likely to escalate into violence. These forms of harassment are not just sexist — but also racist and homophobic in nature.
Guest Post: Philosophers’ Ethical Non-Monogamy Alliance on Hanna October 21, 2014
A guest post:
We are members of The Philosophers’ Ethical Non-Monogamy Alliance who are dismayed to read Robert Hanna’s article “Sexual McCarthyism, Polyamory, and the First Amendment”.
Polyamory is the practice or acceptance of having more than one intimate relationship at a time with the knowledge and consent of everyone involved. It is a form of consensual, ethical, and responsible non-monogamy. Polyamory is not a sexual orientation towards some gender or genders, or a gender identity.
We are philosophers. Several of us are polyamorous. Others of us identify as ethically non-monogamous in other ways.
We strongly condemn sexual harassment in all its forms.
We consider it obvious, but we now clarify explicitly for the avoidance of any possible doubt, that polyamory is in no way equivalent to, or an excuse for, the sexual harassment of students or colleagues. Polyamory is neither constituted by nor an excuse for pursuing multiple relationships – whether ‘marriage-like’ or not – without concern for whether the objects of pursuit are comfortable with being thus pursued.
We find it both conceptually confused and highly offensive to associate polyamory with sexual harassment in the manner exemplified in Hanna’s article.
Rebecca Kukla, Carrie Ichikawa Jenkins, Kenny Easwaran, Jeff Sebo, Duane Long, Jr., Ada Jaarsma, Ryan Carmody, Rachael Briggs, and Enzo Rossi, on behalf of the Philosophers’ Ethical Non-Monogamy Alliance.
(The PENMA is a group of philosophers interested in exploring political, personal, disciplinary, and theoretical issues surrounding ethical non-monogamy.)
Those who read Robert Hanna’s response to being named in the recent CHE article regarding the situation at CU-Boulder, may have also read his paper that he links to in that response, Sexual McCarthyism, Polyamory, and the First Amendment (if you don’t understand the relationship between those concepts named in the title, you’re not alone–neither did I). Here is an illuminating snippet:
In professional academics, we are now, sadly, in an era of sexual McCarthyism. . . Notice how the phrase “sexual harassment” sounds a lot like “sexual assault” and non-rationally evokes the same moral disgust as the latter phrase, even though the phrases actually mean very different things. But the non-rational emotional association with the ugly phrase “sexual assault” is no doubt precisely why the sexual McCarthyites chose the equally ugly phrase “sexual harassment,” and not, e.g., “romantic relationship troubles.” Indeed, sexual McCarthyites like to talk about “victims” of “sexual harassment precisely because in fact there are no such people as “victims” of romantic relationship troubles–there are just people in all their multifarious peculiarity, having the all-too-familiar romantic relationship troubles with each other — but they want to evoke, non-rationally, the impression that there are such victims.
To be clear, sexual harassment is a thing, and it is not the same thing as ‘romantic relationship troubles.’ For one, ‘romantic relationship troubles’ presupposes the existence of a romantic relationship, and sexual harassment often happens outside the context of any relationship (cf. street harassment), let alone a romantic one. For two, just as an example, sending colleagues unwanted emails soliciting sexual interactions would be sexually harassing, but not an instance of romantic relationship troubles even if you have romantic feelings towards them. Why? Because if your colleagues do not want to be in a romantic or sexual relationship with you, regardless of your desires, there is no sense in which this a problem with your romantic relationship to them–namely, because you do not have one.
As an interesting matter of history, ‘sexual harassment’ was not coined in order to elicit moral disgust regarding behaviors which have no victim. Quite the contrary. Susan Brownmiller recounts how the term actually came to be in In Our Time: Memoir of a Revolution (reader’s of Miranda Fricker’s Epistemic Injustice will be familiar with this already, as she quotes this passage in her book):
One afternoon a former university employee sought out Lin Farley to ask for her help. Carmita Wood, age forty-four, born and raised in the apple orchard region of Lake Cayuga, and the sole support of two of her children, had worked for eight years in Cornell’s department of nuclear physics, advancing from lab assistant to a desk job handling administrative chores. Wood did not know why she had been singled out, or indeed if she had been singled out, but a distinguished professor seemed unable to keep his hands off her.
As Wood told the story, the eminent man would jiggle his crotch when he stood near her desk and looked at his mail, or he’d deliberately brush against her breasts while reaching for some papers. One night as the lab workers were leaving their annual Christmas party, he cornered her in the elevatorand planted some unwanted kisses on her mouth. After the Christmas party incident, Carmita Wood went out of her way to use the stairs in the lab building in order to avoid a repeat encounter, but the stress of the furtive molestations and her efforts to keep the scientist at a distance while maintaining cordial relations with his wife, whom she liked, brought on a host of physical symptoms. Wood developed chronic back and neck pains. Her right thumb tingled and grew numb. She requested a transfer to another department, and when it didn’t come through, she quit. She walked out the door and went to Florida for some rest and recuperation. Upon her return she applied for unemployment insurance. When the claims investigator asked why she had left her job after eight years, Wood was at a loss to describe the hateful episodes. She was ashamed and embarrassed. Under prodding—the blank on the form needed to be filled in—she answered that her reasons had been personal. Her claim for unemployment benefits was denied.
‘Lin’s students had been talking in her seminar about the unwanted sexual advances they’d encountered on their summer jobs,’ Sauvigne relates. ‘And then Carmita Wood comes in and tells Lin her story. We realized that to a person, every one of us—the women on staff, Carmita, the students—had had an experience like this at some point, you know? And none of us had ever told anyone before. It was one of those click, aha! moments, a profound revelation.’
The women had their issue. Meyer located two feminist lawyers in Syracuse, Susan Horn and Maurie Heins, to take on Carmita Wood’s unemployment insurance appeal. ‘And then…,’ Sauvigne reports, ‘we decided that we also had to hold a speak-out in order to break the silence about this.’
The ‘this’ they were going to break the silence about had no name. ‘Eight of us were sitting in an office of Human Affairs,’ Sauvigne remembers, ‘brainstorming about what we were going to write on the posters for our speak-out. We were referring to it as ‘‘sexual intimidation,’’ ‘‘sexual coercion,’’ ‘‘sexual exploitation on the job.’’ None of those names seemed quite right. We wanted something that embraced a whole range of subtle and unsubtle persistent behaviors. Somebody came up with ‘‘harassment.’’ Sexual harassment! Instantly we agreed. That’s what it was.’