Blog

Month: May 2014

Weekly Roundup
Posted by On Friday, May 30, 2014

After last week’s mass shooting took the lives of six UC Santa Barbara students, and in light of the misogynistic videos and writings posted online by the shooter prior to the killings, now seems like as good a time as any to discuss some of the ways  that mainstream society perpetuates misogynistic views about women. Here are three stories about researchers, commentators, and everyday Twitter users who are contributing to that discussion.

#YesAllWomen

The hashtag #YesAllWomen was created in direct response to the shootings in Santa Barbara as a reminder that while not all men (also a trending hashtag this week) are violent misogynists, all women have suffered harassment and sexism. #YesAllWomen has become a dynamic conversation on Twitter, with thousands of women across the world describing their own experiences of sexism and harassment, which range from stories of sexual assault on college campuses to discrimination in the workplace.

Arthur Chu on “Nerd Lust”

Former Jeopardy champion and acknowledged nerd Arthur Chu has written a thought-provoking piece on misogyny in nerd culture, a topic which doesn’t always receive as much attention as, say, sexist frat brothers. Chu, however, points to the ugly implications of Steve Urkel’s stalking, or a rape scene in Revenge of the Nerds being played for laughs. He also addresses real life harassment, stalking, and violence which he argues stem from a dangerous attitude on the part of many men—that they are as entitled to a woman’s body or companionship as they are to the bonus points at the end of a well-played video game level. Chu calls on his “fellow male nerds” to understand that “other people’s bodies and other people’s love are not something that can be taken nor even something that can be earned—they can be given freely, by choice, or not.”

Campus Slut-Shaming

A pair of sociologists from the University of Michigan and UC Merced, Drs. Elizabeth Armstrong and Laura Hamilton respectively, spent five years living in a dorm room, researching the habits and behavior of the 53 college women on their floor. Of particular interest are their findings about the word “slut” and the practice now widely known as slut-shaming. Armstrong and Hamilton concluded that, while it was common for girls to put down other girls by calling them sluts, there was no clear definition of what constituted slutty behavior. Many girls’ definitions of the term not even tangentially related to sexual activity. They also found that there was a significant classist dimension to slut-shaming, with working class girls more likely to be publicly referred to as sluts than their upper-class counterparts. The researchers’ conclusion? “[T]hat ‘slut’ is simply a misogynistic catch-all, a verbal utility knife that young people use to control women and create hierarchies.”

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Why Your Sexual Assault Prevention Program Needs to Address Substance Abuse
Posted by On Thursday, May 29, 2014

It is crucial that a prevention program covers both sexual misconduct and substance abuse, especially alcohol abuse. Consider these statistics:

In other words, alcohol is the number one rape drug.

Indeed, researchers and educators have long called for sexual assault prevention programs to incorporate training on substance abuse as well. This includes recommendations from

There are many theories explaining the connection between alcohol and sexual assault including pharmacological and cultural reasons. (Antonia Abbey offers an excellent summary of these theories here. )

For instance, alcohol can incapacitate victims, making it harder for them to resist an attacker. Or it can make attackers more aggressive and impulsive. Perpetrators may also use to justify their crimes to themselves and those around them. An assailant might drink in order to surrender responsibility for his or her actions – “I can’t help it, I’m drunk.” Similarly, stereotypes about the relationship between drinking and sexual desire (e.g. women who drink are looking for sex) could encourage an assailant to aggressively pursue a woman despite her refusals. Victims may even internalize cultural stereotypes about alcohol and sexual behavior and as a result blame themselves for an assault.

Therefore, it’s crucial that a prevention program address these misconceptions and problematic associations, explaining that being drunk never excuses an individual from moral or legal responsibility for an assault nor does it place responsibility for an assault on the victim.

More broadly, a program that encourages (and teaches) students who drink to do so responsibly and to look out for their friends helps to instill positive habits and attitudes that will also help students stand up to sexual assault. It’s all part of the same prevention message.

For more on what to look for in a prevention program, refer to these posts:

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What is Ongoing?
Posted by On Friday, May 23, 2014
Ongoing Training

Weekly Roundup
Posted by On

Last week, we brought you three stories about unusual and innovative methods for combating sexual assault on college campuses. This week, we’re shifting the focus to stories about activists who have hit on a single particularly intuitive tactic for convincing schools to adequately address sexual assault—targeting their pocketbooks.

Applications to Dartmouth Down 14%

Applications to Dartmouth College are down by 14% this year, the biggest drop in 21 years. The dramatic decline comes on the heels of an outcry over the school’s sexual assault policies and fraternity hazing. While the school has pointed to demographic shifts in the New England area and their recent decision to no longer accept Advanced Placement credits, others see the decline in applications as a referendum on Dartmouth’s campus culture. “Dartmouth Change [a group calling for action on campus sexual violence] said to them that if they didn’t handle the problem, the problem would handle them, and I’m afraid this is what’s happening,” said Peter Hackett, a Dartmouth professor and member of Dartmouth Change. In fact, under new president Philip Hanlon, Dartmouth has begun to make moves to address sexual assault on their campus, creating an LGBT residence hall, an inter-fraternity network on sexual assault, and consolidated resources for victims and survivors of sexual violence.

Alumni Withhold Donations

Meanwhile, alumni who want to force their alma mater’s into taking action on sexual assault are finding that just because they’re done paying tuition doesn’t mean it’s too late to play the money card. In fact, with many schools relying on alumni donations to fund new programs and facilities or swell endowments, the threat of withheld gifts is proving to be a particularly effective tactic for activist alumni displeased by the response to sexual assault at their alma maters. Instead of making contributions to a general fund, alumni at numerous schools have organized to demand change on campus, or have redirected their donations to groups that tackle the problem of sexual assault. In at least one case this strategy drew prompt attention from the top administrator — nine days after publishing a petition demanding changes in Occidental’s sexual assault policy, alumna Lourdes Barraza found herself in a meeting with Occidental’s president, Jonathan Veitch.

Seniors Redirect Senior Gift

In fact, the tactic of withholding or redirecting donations has even been adopted by those who have yet to graduate, with very encouraging results. At Brown University, graduating seniors who felt that as a result of the school’s continuing problems with sexual assault they could not make the traditional senior gift “in good faith” have decided instead to found and fund the Gift for a Sexual Assault-Free Campus in Honor of the Class of 2014, which will fund resources to prevent assault and support survivors of sexual violence. Brown’s response has been highly encouraging with Brown’s president making a personal donation of $2,500 and the university matching student gifts two-to-one up to $10,000.

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Free Drugs Workshop
Posted by On Thursday, May 22, 2014

Our Drugs Workshop is now freely available on the CampusClarity blog, just click on the links to the materials below:

  1. PowerPoint
  2. Discussion Guide
  3. Handout
  4. Handout Answer Key
  5. Assessment
  6. Assessment Answer Key

The workshop addresses drug use by challenging students to consider the issues that might underlie their drug use or that of their peers. By educating students about the history and biological effects of drug use, it helps them understand why people abuse substances and brainstorm ways to avoid harmful behaviors and engage in healthier, alternative behaviors.

If you like this workshop and want more like it, check out our Drinking and Campus Culture Workshop and our Party Smart Workshop.

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What to Look for in Prevention Programs
Posted by On Tuesday, May 20, 2014
What to Look for in Prevention Programs

Weekly Roundup
Posted by On Friday, May 16, 2014

Much of our coverage on this blog focuses on the latest and most innovative methods of preventing sexual assault and holding the perpetrators of assaults responsible for their crimes. This week, we’re bringing you stories of three unique, though in some cases controversial, techniques for fighting sexual assault on American campuses.

Alleged Perpetrators Named on Bathroom Walls

The first and probably most controversial story comes from Columbia University, where unknown activists have repeatedly published the names of alleged “Sexual assault violators on campus” and “Rapists on Campus” on fliers and bathroom walls. The frustration evidenced by such tactics may come as no surprise at a university where 23 students have filed a federal complaint regarding Columbia’s sexual assault policies. However, while some students have applauded the vigilante-like tactics, others have criticized such public shaming as being counterproductive to the goal of achieving changes in campus sexual assault policy.

Pop-up Ads Warn Prospective Students about Universities’ Sexual Assault Problems

Meanwhile, the women’s activist group UltraViolet has taken similar tactics online to publicly shame schools accused of Title IX violations.  UltraViolet’s online ads target high school students whose search terms, Facebook profiles, or physical location suggest that they might be interested in attending schools currently under federal investigation for having inadequate sexual assault policies. The ads ask if the user has been accepted to the university in question, and warn, “You should know about its rape problem before you attend.” According to InTheCapital, a similar campaign targeting Dartmouth last year reduced admissions by 14%. Naturally, such campaigns have created controversy, especially because not all of the schools targeted by UltraViolet are actually under federal investigation.

FundRazr Campaign Raises Funds for Sexual Assault Lawsuit

A student’s lawsuit against Yale University and its philosophy professor accused of sexual assault claims the university of “knowingly protecting him.” The lawsuit is getting a boost from an online fundraising campaign meant to raise funds to hire an expert witness for the unnamed plaintiff. The campaign (which has met its $7,000 goal) was supported by a number of noted philosophers, some of whom have referenced the numerous recent sexual assault scandals in their discipline when explaining their contributions.

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A Checklist for Title IX Employee Training
Posted by On Thursday, May 15, 2014
A Checklist for Title IX Employee Training

Free Drinking and Campus Culture Workshop
Posted by On Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Our Drinking and Campus Culture Workshop is now freely available on the CampusClarity blog, just click on the links to the materials below:

  1. PowerPoint
  2. Discussion Guide
  3. Handout
  4. Handout Answer Key
  5. Assessment
  6. Assessment Answer Key

Studies show that students consistently overestimate how much and how often their peers drink. Such misperceptions can encourage students to drink more by distorting their views of healthy drinking habits and lending dangerous credence to the classic justification for reckless or unhealthy behavior: “Everyone else is doing it.”

The Drinking and Campus Culture Workshop is one hour of live training that not only helps correct these misperceptions and explores their consequences, but also challenges students to find their own ways to correct such misinformation on their own campuses.

If you like this workshop and want more like it, check out our Bystander Intervention Workshop and our Party Smart Workshop.

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Weekly Roundup
Posted by On Friday, May 9, 2014

The CampusClarity Weekly Roundup has covered stories about the alleged “Dark Power of Fraternities” as well as their potential benefits. Now, the discussion is turning to what schools should and can do about the perceived problems that arise from the fraternity system as it currently exists on their campuses. Today, we take a look at three measures that have been proposed, enacted, and considered respectively.

Bloomberg Recommends Banning Frats

Bloomberg Business Weekly published this op-ed several months ago, in which they (naturally) examined the question of fraternities from a business perspective. Their conclusion? That fraternities do not contribute to the real business of colleges and universities (teaching) and in fact incur unnecessary and perhaps unacceptable liability, as well as damage to a school’s reputation—or, in business terms, brand.

Amherst Follows Bloomberg’s Advice

In the wake of several controversies regarding their sexual assault policies, and in the midst of a federal investigation of those policies, Amherst College is banning fraternities for the second time. While fraternities were kicked off campus in 1984 (soon after Amherst enrolled its first female students) and have not been officially recognized by the school since then, they have existed as off-campus organizations. Around 10 percent of male Amherst students are members of Theta Delta Chi, Chi Psi, or Delta Kappa Epsilon, living in off-campus fraternity houses and even wearing Greek letters. Now, Amherst is doubling-down on the fraternity ban, making membership in the three off-campus frats grounds for suspension and even expulsion.

Wesleyan Considers Integrating Sisters into Fraternities

Another college facing high-profile lawsuits and sexual assault-related scandals is also considering the future of its Greek system. However, instead of doing away with fraternities, Wesleyan University is contemplating increasing the size of their potential membership—by requiring that they accept female members. The hope is that integration will change fraternity culture for the better. Adding women to a rape-prone fraternity could have the opposite effect and create more risk of sexual assault, according to Christopher Kilmartin, a psychology professor at University of Mary Washington.

When Trinity College required both sororities and fraternities to go co-ed, the dean of students said Trinity’s decision was more about “gender parity” than sexual assault prevention. Regardless of the purpose, the decision raised another risk: students, alumni, and parents argued that the move was tantamount to banning Greek life, since admitting members of the opposite sex led to most of the fraternities and sororities losing their charters from their national organizations.

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