Get Over It

As much as I enjoy seeing Yale circling the drain of self-destruction, I am simply flabbergasted by the most recent discrimination suit it faces from a group of current and former female students.

The Yale group's confidential Title IX complaint to the Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights (OCR) reportedly includes testimony about sexual assaults, but the hostile-environment charge against the university rests as well on a litany of complaints about offensive exercises of First Amendment freedoms. A December 2010 draft complaint letter, obtained by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), focuses on these "incidents": In 2006, a group of frat boys chant "No means yes, yes means anal" outside the Yale Women's Center. In 2010, a group of fraternity pledges repeat this obnoxious chant outside a first-year women's dorm. In 2008, pledges surround the Women's Center holding signs saying, "We love Yale sluts." In 2009, Yale students publish a report listing the names and addresses of first-year women and estimating the number of beers "it would take to have sex with them."

There are few adults who would not recognize these incidents as stupid, boorish frat-boy behavior not to be emulated.  But taking Yale to court, in effect seeking to force the University to punish such speech, takes the current college trend of protection the right not to be offended to absurd extremes.

Consider for a moment that there are radical women's organizations on most college campuses that take it as an article of faith that all men are rapists and all men are complicit in violence against women.   How is this speech any less aggressive, though it is treated with complete respect by universities.  In fact, many integrate this point of view into required Freshman sensitivity training.   Women on compuses routinely engage in speech saying that every man is a guilty felon complicit in awful crimes, and I don't see any men whining and running to Uncle Sugar to protect their delicate ears from offense.  At least the frat boys were probably drunk and joking -- the women are sober and dead serious.

Don't not be mistaken -- this is not about rights or freedom, but about a bid for totalitarian control of campuses by a niche group.  From Wendy Kaminer

Sad to say, but feminism helped lead the assault on civil liberty and now seems practically subsumed by it. Decades ago, when Catherine MacKinnon, Andrea Dworkin, and their followers began equating pornography with rape (literally) and calling it a civil-rights violation, groups of free-speech feminists fought back, in print, at conferences, and in state legislatures, with some success. We won some battles (and free speech advocates in general can take solace in the Supreme Court's recent decision upholding the right to engage in offensive speech on public property and public affairs). But all things considered (notably the generations of students unlearning liberty) we seem to be losing the war, especially among progressives.

This is not simply a loss for liberty on campus and the right to indulge in what's condemned as verbal harassment or bullying, broadly defined. It's a loss of political freedom: the theories of censoring offensive or hurtful speech that are used to prosecute alleged student harassers are used to foment opposition to the right to burn a flag or a copy of the Quran or build a Muslim community center near Ground Zero. The disregard for liberty that the Obama administration displays in its approach to sexual harassment and bullying is consistent with its disregard for  liberty, and the presumption of innocence, in the Bush/Obama war on terror. Of course, the restriction of puerile, sexist speech on campus is an inconvenience compared to the indefinite detention or show trials of people suspected of terrorism, sometimes on the basis of un-reviewed or un-reviewable evidence. But underlying trivial and tragic deprivations of liberty, the authoritarian impulse is the same.

PS-  The last part in the first quote about rating women as related to sex is ironic, as, if memory serves, Yale was the location around 1980 when a group of female students created a guide rating male students on their sexual talents.  When women do it, it is a brave act of liberation.  When men do it, it is sexual harassment.

PPS-  My son is going through the college admissions process.  All these schools stress how much they are looking for future leaders.  How can Yale be so selective that it has an admissions rate around 7% of applicants but still end up with so many people who cannot function in the world as an adult?  The women are begging to have a daddy to protect them and the men seem to need a daddy to kick their ass until they act like adults.

  • perlhaqr

    All these schools stress how much they are looking for future leaders. How can Yale be so selective that it has an admissions rate around 7% of applicants but still end up with so many people who cannot function in the world as an adult? The women are begging to have a daddy to protect them and the men seem to need a daddy to kick their ass until they act like adults.

    Well, that's simple enough. What they're actually selecting for and what they say they're selecting for are not the same thing.

  • Mesa Econoguy

    If Yale had simply merged with Vassar back in the 1960s, they could have avoided all this and been a totalitarian niche group dictatorship far sooner.

  • Dr. T

    "The women are begging to have a daddy to protect them and the men seem to need a daddy to kick their ass until they act like adults."

    Hence, the return of paternalism to campuses. I thought that "in loco parentis" had died in the 1970s. Now, many universities are regressing to the rules and restrictions of a typical campus in 1950. This won't work today.

    Only about 10% of high school grads went to a four-year college or university in the 1950s. I'm stereotyping, but it is true that the brainier teens are better-behaved than average teens, so campus problems were rare. Over 60% of high school grads now go to college. Campuses, dormitories, and near-campus apartments are packed. Many students are incapable of doing college-level work (hence, a nationwide graduation rate of only 53%), and their stress levels are high. Crude behavior is a reaction to stress in persons who weren't brought up well, who believe they are anonymous members of a mob, and who have no one telling them their behavior is wrong, ie: today's typical college students hanging out together. College administrators foolishly believe that they can elevate the discourses and interactions among students by enacting more rules and regulations concerning conduct and speech. Such efforts will backfire. They will divide campuses into feuding factions: the rude frat boys vs. the whining feminist wimps, the free-speech feminists vs. the whining feminist wimps, the radicals vs. the "I don't want to hear bad things" womb-dwellers, the criticizers of religions or cultures vs. those who claim such criticisms are attacks, etc.

    I'm just hoping that the college my daughter plans to attend will retain some sense and dignity for the next four years.

  • Matthew Brown

    I do have to say that, while I do not think that Yale should be forced by the federal government to limit student speech, that Yale fraternities think such conduct appropriate enough to repeat is not a great advertisement for the school.

    If I had college-age kids I would not be sending them to Yale, and this is but one reason.

  • Smock Puppet

    > “in loco parentis”

    Emphasis on the "loco".

    :^D

    >> I’m just hoping that the college my daughter plans to attend will retain some sense and dignity for the next four years.

    BWAAAAAAAAAAhahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaaaa!

    > All these schools stress how much they are looking for future leaders.

    What part of "Totalitarianism is the future" do you figure doesn't apply to their mindset? Hmmmmmmmmm???

  • chuck martel

    "... it has an admissions rate around 7% of applicants...."

    As do many elite schools. Hordes of would-be students mean that college administrations have no reason to believe that they're doing anything wrong and that there's also no reason to hold the line on tuition increases. When they get fewer applicants than they have openings there might be some changes.

  • Dave Smith

    Next time shoot video and post it on Youtube.
    We can all laugh until the yale frat boys reach puberty.

  • http://thegameiam.wordpress.com David

    I know that behaving badly is common on college campuses; however, the behaviors of these frat boys do seem particularly unpleasant. That this is an ongoing conversation does not make me impressed with Yale.

  • ErisGuy

    "There are few adults who would not recognize these incidents as stupid, boorish frat-boy behavior not to be emulated."

    Not the worst chant I've ever heard. Less offensive than "Hey Hey, LBJ, How Many Kids Did You Kill Today?"

  • MJ

    Is anyone else here reminded of the movie "PCU"?