NEWS’ VIEW: Tackling Title IX responsibly

Last semester, in the wake of the Title IX complaint, we voiced a simple hope. “The project of reforming Yale’s sexual culture is a formidable one,” our editorial read. (“News’ View: Framing the debate,” April 5). “It cannot be shouldered by three public complainants, 13 anonymous ones, the Department of Education, ExComm, the Yale administration or even Joe Biden. It is a responsibility that must fall on our community as a whole.”

We know that change will not necessarily come from artificial administrative fiat, but from Yale students who reckon with our community’s problems. We saw and see this challenge as our own.

Of course, it’s easy to be skeptical. But we take hope and encouragement in a group of gutsy freshman counselors, who pushed back when told by the administration to run problematic “consent and communication workshops.” It was inappropriate to ask the FroCos to overload their freshmen with legalese — not to mention broadly negative, forbidding generalizations. We are glad that the counselors preserved their independent role as student advocates.

In the end, masters and deans gave the serious legal recommendations. Advice for navigating Yale’s parties, hook-ups, risks and rewards remains personal, between freshman and FroCo. A scripted phrase like “the causal problem is coercion and violence, not vulnerability” would undermine that relationship. Yale needs to think more strategically about how it delivers this information.

It’s important to remember how the FroCos managed to refine Yale’s strategy. They took personal initiative, questioning orders or guidelines from above. All of our undergraduate organizations should follow their lead: frats, teams, service groups and health educators alike. We have far more influence on one another than any administrator or investigation. We don’t need to run scared from that power, but use it constructively.

Comments

  • The Anti-Yale

    *But we take hope and encouragement in a group of gutsy freshman counselors, who pushed back when told by the administration to run problematic “consent and communication workshops.” It was inappropriate to ask the FroCos to overload their freshmen with legalese — not to mention broadly negative, forbidding generalizations. We are glad that the counselors preserved their independent role as student advocates.*

    That was gutsy. Bravo! Brava!

    And it took moral courage to rail against the quicksand of manipulative vagueness H.G. Wells warned us about in his essay, “Politics and the English Language” To wit: *A scripted phrase like “the causal problem is coercion and violence, not vulnerability”*

    Bravissima!

    All around us every day language is being used to kneed us until we can be shaped into cookie cutter-designs suitable to the needs of the universal cultural deity DATA.

    Even the Quaker honorific “friend” has become a status symbol of conspicuous consumption:

    How *many* have YOU got on your FACADEBOOK page?

    PK

    M. Div. ’80

    • River_Tam

      Perhaps it was the Quakers who repurposed the word Friend, since it predates their existence, much as the Communists re-purposed the word Comrade, and the Jacobins re-purposed the word Citizen.

      In fact, the Quaker honorific stems from the Quakers calling themselves “Friends of the Truth” which can best be described as an early example of a marketing slogan.

  • River_Tam

    Chalk rape up as an unfortunate but all-too-obvious byproduct of the hookup culture we live in. Between school-sponsored intoxication and school-encouraged sexual exploration, the line between what is “rape rape” (to use Whoopi Goldberg’s famous phrase) and merely a hazy zone of implicit consent has become blurred. Combine this with men who are encouraged to be sexually aggressive to the point of negative consent, women who learn that crying rape absolves you from being considered a “slut”, and you have a powder keg of sexuality.

    In the ensuing explosion, it’s impossible to distinguish the rapists, the prevaricators, and the idiots from one another.

  • The Anti-Yale

    CORRECTION:
    That should read “George Orwell” not “H.G. Wells”.