Could Someone Tell Me Where This Bandwagon is Headed?

A must-read for anyone interested in campus culture: "The White House Joins the War on Men" by KC Johnson. KC looks at the recent emission from the Obama Administration on how colleges and universities accepting federal funds (pretty much all of them) must deal with accusations of unwanted sexual activity. It's all bad news, starting with Orwellian languge tricks.

The administration tips its hand quickly with a telltale verbal switch--referring to complainants as "survivors," rather than as accusers. This language, which assumes guilt and the fact of a sexual offense before any hearing, is the terminology of hardline feminists who have the ear of this administration and have made it clear that they want more guilty findings.

The administration (and much of the lapdog press) claim as fact that "One in five women is sexually assaulted in college." KC deems this a "preposterous statistic", and you'll probably agree after watching Christina Hoff Sommers:

The administration is using this loaded language and bad stats to justify degrading due process and the rights of the accused. It also has the—probably intentional—side effect of increasing fear, loathing, and paranoia among college women. What's not to like?

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) also had some quibbles; instead of fixing what seemingly everyone regards as a horribly broken system, the White House is making things worse.

Sexual assault is one of the worst crimes a person can commit. Those found guilty of it should be punished to the fullest extent allowed by law. But precisely because sexual assault is such a serious crime, providing those accused of it with due process—a term that appears nowhere in the entire report—becomes even more important. Due process is more than a system for protecting the rights of the accused it’s a set of procedures intended to ensure that findings of guilt or innocence are accurate, fair, and reliable.

FIRE is under no illusion that there is a simple solution to the problem of sexual assault on campus. But by lowering the bar for finding guilt, expanding the definition of harassment beyond recognition, eliminating precious due process protections, and entrusting unqualified campus employees to safeguard the vitally important interests of all involved, we are creating a system that is impossible for colleges to fairly administer, and one that will be even less fair, reliable, and accurate than before.

Unfortunately, the University Near Here is an enthusiastic participant in this hysterical effort; we were, in fact, called out by the White House as being one of the "leaders" in the movement. (Compare and contrast Dartmouth, over there on the other side of the state, which is on a previously-unrevealed Office of Civil Rights shitlist, subject of an "investigation" due to an increasingly totalitarian interpretation of Title IX.)

Even UNH employees (I'm one) are being dragooned into this groupthink movement. Last week I received a much-forwarded message (from a UNH VP, to the UNH CIO, to the director of my Department, to me and a lot of others) to "sign" a (web-based) pledge: “Never commit, condone, nor remain silent about violence against women.” Just type in your name, and UNH affilliation, and your name will be added to this public list.

Now (it so happens) I am opposed to violence against women. But I'm not a fan of empty symbolic gestures and morally-superior preening. And (as noted above) it's part of a movement whose foundations are shaky, justifications are dishonest, impacts are poisonous, and implementations are Constitutionally suspect. So I moved on and didn't sign.

But it's also a tad disturbing to know that various layers of boss were "encouraging" me to sign, and that my failure to do so is (now) a matter of public record. Another employee was moved to write an (anonymous) letter to UNH's student newspaper in protest. (Not me; I'm content to merely blog about it.) But I agree with his main point: will our absence from this list be noted by higher-ups, and will that be an (almost certainly unspoken) factor in future performance evaluations? What "worthy cause" will we be "encouraged" to lend our names to next?

Last Modified 2014-08-06 9:10 AM EDT