Monday, June 1, 2015

Laura Kipnis' Torquemada, Joan Slavin

This is incredible.
... I must emphasize that Northwestern University will not tolerate any retaliation or aggression, macro- or micro-, against students who have made complaints against faculty or each other. Such retaliation is both unlawful under Title IX and against University policy. Professor Kipnis' latest article, like her previous one, represents a deeply problematical challenge to these community values.
Public Attacks On Victims: When a student accuses a faculty member or another student of sexual misconduct, the only University response consistent with Title IX is contrition, acceptance, and support.
Professor Kipnis forces me to clarify a point that ought already be plain in an environment like this one: "neutrality" is no shield for attacks on victim integrity. Professor Kipnes' columns suggest that it is appropriate in the course of discussing an accusation to report what the target says in response to it. Unless the response is a full acknowledgement of wrongdoing and apology, it is not appropriate.
Title IX Procedure: Professor Kipnis' latest article is a brutal and biased attack on the University's procedure for evaluating Title IX complaints. I must remind the faculty that discussions of procedure and "fairness" are not excuses to attack victims. Employees should avoid discussions that imply that any particular victim, or victims in general, may not be telling the truth, or may be seeking unwarranted remedies.
Curriculum: It is our collective responsibility to avoid unlawful retaliation not only directly, but implicitly. During this period of reassurance, and whenever Title IX investigations are pending, the College of Arts & Sciences faculty should avoid undue emphasis on problem authors whose texts undermine free reporting of sexual misconduct, such as Arthur Miller, Franz Kafka, or Harper Lee. 
Thus the value of a Harvard Law degree, the comforting warm knowledge that one can add two and two, get five, and still collect a paycheck.

Update: Unclear to me whether Ken's post was meant as satire or if it's really a leaked email. The line between fantasy and reality in bogus news contexts is getting harder and harder to parse.

Update 2: Laura Kipnis was cleared of any wrongdoing in a Title IX proceeding, which is kinda sad that any such thing even happened in the first place.  "Philosopher" Justin Weinberg wrote a really dumb piece at the blog Nous which is illustrative of the mindset at play here, a great deal of which falls into the "I'm in favor of free speech, but" variety.

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