Jefferson vs. Hamilton…again?
April 22nd 2011 · 0 Comments
by C. Harris-Lockwood
It is very interesting that in early April, during Sexual Assault Awareness Month, Yale University was brought under investigation by the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights, alleging a violation of Title IX, which bans sex discrimination in schools. It charges that Yale University has maintained a hostile environment for women that deny them equal access to educational opportunities.
The Yale complaint recounts many incidents of disturbing and disgusting actions on the part of fraternity members, most notably a march through the freshman quad on Oct. 13, 2010, in which Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity members and pledges chanted “No means yes. Yes means anal.”
On April 1, complainant Hannah Zeavin, class of 2012, mentioned other instances of alleged sexual harassment, including one incident two years prior in which fraternity pledges stood in front of the Women’s Center holding posters stating, “We love Yale sluts.”
Fast forward two weeks later, and Hamilton College is targeted by the Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression, located in Virginia. Hamilton’s administration was given the 2011 Jefferson Muzzle, and has been accused of taking “political correctness to the extreme” by requiring first-year male students to attend a presentation in September called “She Fears You.”
Apparently the Thomas Jefferson Center engaged the college early on, going back and forth with the administration over their complaint of Freshmen Orientation. An unnamed Hamilton professor was responsible for ‘alerting’ the TJC to the supposed affront to free speech.
With the risk of sexual assault for college women being one out of four, it appears that the Jeffersonians are far more concerned with men being free to openly harass and insult women, than women being able to walk with confidence and freedom. There is on the campus, as well as society in general, a fear of men which confronts women daily. This kind of behavior and speech supports and sustains this condition.
If one views the online trailer for the ‘problematic’ presentation “She Fears You,” it is evident that a compelling argument is made that men walk with an unacknowledged privilege of not being afraid. On college campuses, men never have to consider what time is too dark to go to the library, whether it is safe to go jogging, if an outfit is sending the wrong message, where the nearest emergency call box is, or if he can get there before a potential attacker can.
These are assessments college women have to consider on a regular basis.
In a preemptive move to alter the culture of fear and perhaps educate and grow a new thought process in the coming generation of men and women, the Hamilton administration called for the Orientation Session to be mandatory. The Thomas Jefferson Center regards this required attendance as constituting “forced indoctrination that is the very opposite of freedom of conscience.”
Forced indoctrination? Really? It is apparent that on this planet, the vast majority of sexual assaults are committed by men, so it is reasonable that men have a role to play in prevention. Simply consider the problem of rape on an historical and global level. Before crying civil rights affronts, Jeffersonians should recognize that Hamilton, as all New York State colleges, are mandated “to provide education programs to promote the awareness of rape, acquaintance rape and other sex offenses.”
Given their current stance on free speech, one is drawn to wonder if Jeffersonians would support hate groups such as the Westboro Baptist Church in their crusade against homosexuals and all who accept them, in defense of “Free Speech,” or if using words like “Nigger,” “Chink,” or “Kyke,” should be allowed and thrown around simply because it is a form of speech protected under the First Amendment.
Truthfully, the latter is typically disallowed, not by legal mandate but by social custom. If a student were to call a Black, Jewish or a Chinese American student by one of the above-mentioned invectives, surely he or she would be dissuaded to cease and desist.
The reason for this is that a culture of tolerance exists which discourages such vitriol.
How is it that France and Canada have managed to come up with legislative solutions to hateful utterances, and yet maintain their commitment to free speech. Can’t we Americans figure that out?
Why does such sufficient support not exist for anti-rape and non-violence against women, and further…why is such an esteemed institution as Hamilton College, about to celebrate its 200th anniversary, chastised for and accused of violating the civil rights of men, for choosing to instill on their campus a culture of non-violence to both protect the women on its campus and to hopefully alter a hateful thought pattern that has plagued humanity for all time?
By Mark Ziobro