Response to AAUP report on Title IX from Faculty Against Rape

Faculty Against Rape has drafted a response to the AAUP’s draft report on Title IX to submit by the end of the comment period tomorrow, and they are accepting signatures from academics in support of the letter. The full letter is here, and the form to add your name is here.

Here’s a passage from the introduction:

As members of Faculty Against Rape (FAR), a group of more than 300 faculty and civil rights activists from across the U.S., we write to express grave concerns regarding the American Association of University Professor’s (AAUP) draft report on Title IX.  We started FAR in the summer of 2014 as an ad-hoc volunteer collective whose mission is to get more faculty involved in preventing sexual assault and sexual harassment and improving campus responses. FAR is also committed to protecting faculty who experience retaliation for doing so. Over the past two years, FAR has provided resources for faculty to learn how to best support survivors, tools for faculty who want to get more involved in reform efforts, and support for faculty who face retaliation. Collectively, our members have supported literally hundreds of survivors at campuses across the country. Many of them have endured significant retaliation from university administrations who want to protect the university brand, even at the cost of the safety and well-being of students. We have seen the crisis of campus sexual violence, and the nature of Title IX enforcement as practiced, often inadequately, across campuses in the United States, first-hand.

Our experiences, as members of educational communities involved in these issues on the ground, have made evident that Title IX enforcement at institutions of higher education is, indeed, a matter of pressing concern. However, if the AAUP seeks to adequately understand, and competently comment on this issue, it must take care to, at the very least, attend to the body of existing expert scholarship— including scholarship by some of its own members— on this topic. As it stands, we are troubled by much of the framing, content, unrepresentative nature of, and failures of accuracy within, the draft report.

The overall impression given by the report is that the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights is ‘overreaching’ in its mandated mission of providing guidance to universities and ‘abusing’ Title IX; this,  despite the fact that there is broad underreporting of campus sexual assault by universities. The American Association of University Women (AAUW) analyzed DOE data and found that 91% of colleges did not report any rapes in 2014, leading the AAUW to exclaim that “The data reported by the nation’s colleges simply defy reality and common sense,” given that they “don’t reflect campus climate surveys and academic research.”

While we would ordinarily join with the AAUP in resisting the corporatization of institutions of higher learning, we are deeply concerned that the AAUP’s analysis of this issue as it pertains to Title IX, by pitting student concerns for campus safety against faculty interests, reinforces the symptoms instead of addresses the problem. Students and faculty alike are rightfully alarmed by universities and colleges placing the protection of their reputation before the integrity of their campus communities — but these concerns ought to unite, rather than divide us. The AAUP is right to remind us that administrative overreach into the classroom may be driven by a misguided focus on public relations, but we should also acknowledge that it is this very feature of the contemporary university that victims of campus sexual misconduct have been decrying as they witness justice, safety, and prevention sacrificed time and again for the sake of the bottom line.

An open letter to the Harvard 19: Do Better

From Kamilah Willingham (the whole letter is here):

The message you’re sending is clear: don’t bother reporting unless you have a written confession, a witness, and — oh, wait, we had those things! This raises a great question, actually: what would it take for you to believe a sexual assault survivor?

. . . If you believe that people should not refrain from undressing and probing the bodies of unconscious peers, you have no business teaching law. The notion is insulting to the man you defend, as well as anyone who prefers not to be fingered while they’re asleep.

. . . I am tired of being treated as if I don’t matter. I am hurt by how much more easily you believe a man when he says “she’s lying” than a woman when she says “he sexually assaulted me, and I deserve better.” I am angry with you for forcing me, as my assailant did, to assert my value. But, most importantly, I am not alone. I am only one of the increasing number of survivors who reject the silence that you have endorsed in this situation and are trying to impose. You will not succeed in silencing my story — I’m just one of many survivors in our community whose very real pain you will have to reckon with.

Happy anniversary of contraception being legal for the unmarried in the US!


March 22 marks the 41st anniversary of Eisenstadt v. Baird, the Supreme Court decision that established the right of single individuals to possess contraception. That’s right: As recently as 1972, you could go to jail for giving contraception to an unmarried person. And William Baird did. Eight times. In five different states.

That piece is actually three years old, but since today was the anniversary, I wanted to share — particularly since the issue of contraceptives is hitting the Supreme Court yet again this week.

SCP to host prayer service addressing sexual harassment and sexual assault within the philosophical community at the Central APA

The announcement from the Society of Christian Philosophers:

Sexual harassment and assault have been serious problems within our discipline for a long time; currently, there is a great deal of anger and dismay within the philosophical community over the extent and severity of these continuing problems, the lack of open acknowledgment of the issues, and the primary and secondary harms to which victims have been subject. One of the biggest frustrations for many is the lack of visible displays of support for victims, particularly on the part of more established scholars.

With this in mind, in connection with its other continuing efforts to address this issue, and in full recognition of the fact that this is barely a beginning, the Society of Christian Philosophers is holding an ecumenical service of lament and prayer for those affected by sexual harassment and assault within the philosophical community at the Central APA: 8pm on Thursday, March 3, in the SCP suite (location will be posted here). Services of prayer form an important part of the Christian tradition of standing in solidarity with those who are suffering, of opposing the behaviors and institutional structures that contribute to their suffering, of reflecting together on our own individual or corporate complicity with perpetrators, and of lamenting the injustice done. Such prayer does not discharge our moral responsibility for the situations and structures we are part of and work within, and it is no substitute for action–rather, it functions as a reminder that we never act alone, but are always empowered by God when we work for justice and strive to create hospitable institutions to house creative work.

Anyone and everyone is welcome to join us for this service, which will be led by Marilyn McCord Adams and will last approximately 30 minutes.  Those who have questions about the service or would like to see the liturgy are welcome to contact Marilyn McCord Adams, Michael Rea, or Christina Van Dyke.

CFP: #FeministIn(ter)ventions: Women, Community, Technology

The SCSU Women’s Studies Program Announces:
the 22nd Annual Women’s Studies Conference

Women, Community, Technology”
April 15 & 16, 2016

INVITATION FOR PROPOSALS ON INTERDISCIPLINARY SCHOLARLY AND CREATIVE WORK The 22nd SCSU Women’s Studies conference aims to provide a critical site of collective inquiry into the intersections of women (and girls), community, and technology.  In what ways have women and girls worked with technology, broadly defined, for the advancement of communities and/or shaping and building movements?  We invite proposals that investigate the past, present, and future of the intersections of women, community, and technology and showcase feminist in(ter)ventions with technology.  How have women and girls participated (or not) in the fields of technology?  In what ways does this inquiry intersect with the studies of gender, race, class, and sexuality?

We, too, invite you to submit proposals that consider some of the following inquiries regarding women, community, and technology.  In what ways have feminist practices and women’s movements impacted women’s place in the world of technology?  How might the interplay between women, community, and technology have shifted feminist discourses?  What are some of the global movements that underscore feminist interventions and inventions of technology?  What lessons may we glean from women in communities throughout the world utilizing media and technology in fighting against war and destruction? What are some of the best practices of feminist in(ter)ventions for sustainable communities?

PROPOSAL FORMAT: Faculty, students, staff, administrators, and community activists from all disciplines and fields are invited to submit proposals for individual papers, complete sessions, panels, or round tables.  Poster sessions, performance pieces, video recordings, and other creative works are also encouraged.  For individual papers, please submit a one-page abstract.  For complete panels, submit a one-page abstract for each presentation plus an overview on the relationship among individual components.  For the poster sessions and artwork, submit a one-page overview.  All proposals must include speaker’s/speakers’ name(s), affiliation(s), and contact information (address, E-mail, & telephone number).  Please also indicate preference for Friday afternoon, Saturday morning or Saturday afternoon; all attempts will be made to honor schedule requests.

PANELS: Each 75-minute session usually includes three presenters and a session moderator, but individual presenters may request an entire session for a more substantial paper or presentation. Presenters are encouraged, though not required, to form their own panels.  The conference committee will group individual proposals into panels and assign a moderator.   Please indicate in your contact information if you are willing to serve as a moderator.

POSTERS, ART DISPLAYS, AND SLIDE PRESENTATIONS: A poster presentation consists of an exhibit of materials that report research activities or informational resources in visual & summary form.  An art display consists of a depiction of feminist and Indigenous concerns in an artistic medium.  Both types of presentations provide a unique platform that facilitates personal discussion of work with interested colleagues & allows meeting attendees to browse through highlights of current research.  Please indicate in your proposal your anticipated needs in terms of space, etc.

Submission Deadline:  December 4th, 2015

Please submit proposals and supporting materials to:, with attention to Conference Committee.  If you have any questions, please call the Women’s Studies office at (203) 392-6133.Please include name, affiliation, E-mail, standard mailing address, and phone number. Proposals should be no longer than one page, with a second page for identification information. Panel Proposals are welcome.

For more information see here.   ​

Peter Ludlow Resigns

As you may have already read on Daily Nous, Peter Ludlow resigned from Northwestern. The Huffington Post reports:

Philosophy professor Peter Ludlow has resigned from Northwestern University, the Evanston, Illinois-based school confirmed Tuesday.

Ludlow resigned his tenured professorship on Monday as the university prepared to fire him after determining he sexually harassed two students. Ludlow’s behavior was “an affront to the standards” of Northwestern, the university said, and the private school “regrets the pain that was caused by his actions.” . .

The graduate student who accused Ludlow of harassment, and asked to remain anonymous, said it was a relief the process was finally over.

“It wasn’t an easy decision to come forward,” the student told The Huffington Post on Tuesday. “I did not take this lightly, and it has not been easy at any juncture. I don’t want anything from anyone, I just want to believe this is a system we can put our trust in.”

The only lawsuit that’s still alive, and the only one that even made it to discovery, was the state court complaint from the female undergraduate accusing Ludlow of violations of the Illinois Gender Violence Act. . .

The graduate student noted that she felt there was irony in most of the lawsuits coming to a close more quickly than the university’s internal process.

Getting our sh*t together

In light of today’s news of the lawsuit against Miami, and in light of Eric Schliesser’s post from a few days ago, I wanted to open a thread in the hopes of encouraging a conversation about what we can do better as a discipline in responding to problems of equity in our community. Conversations about sexual harassment, assault, and discrimination more broadly in philosophy are difficult. They are difficult because none of us are perfect. They are difficult because the subject matter is painful. They are difficult because social dynamics are such that some feel they cannot even public offer affirmation or support for victims without inviting retaliation or scrutiny upon themselves. They are difficult because some people who want to say something don’t know what to say. They are difficult because many still do not believe there is even much of a problem to discuss in the first place. They are difficult because some of us who want to be part of the solution have been problems ourselves. They are difficult because it feels like we have the same conversations over and over and don’t get very far. But I think it’s important to keep talking because, to be blunt, we need to get our sh*t together.

(I will moderate this thread — but I do invite conversation and reflection on the issues raised by Eric’s post mentioned above, affirmations of support for victims in philosophy, queries about how one can contribute to cultivating a healthier professional dynamic in the discipline, or suggestions.)