Instablogging Kipnis.

Hokay, everyone’s talking about the Laura Kipnis essay attacking zero-tolerance faculty/student sexual relations rules at universities, and UD – like Kipnis, a veteran of such affairs – I mean, UD has never had an affair with one of her students… But she long long long ago had affairs with a couple of her professorsUD figures she’ll follow along as Kipnis makes her case and is then megabombed because of having made it.

She adopts what she calls a “slightly mocking tone,” which seems to UD fine, since sex and sexual passion and love are both fraught and hilarious subjects. Kipnis recalls her hippie days when rebellion, experimentation, transgression, whatever, were things a lot of people did. Was there a price to be paid? Yeah, maybe, sometimes, but it

fell under the category of life experience. It’s not that I didn’t make my share of mistakes, or act stupidly and inchoately, but it was embarrassing, not traumatizing.

So far so good. She and I are (echoing Oscar Wilde) on the same page. She points out that the new paradigm casts students in the role of weak vulnerable victims (“According to [her university’s] the code, students are putty in the hands of all-powerful professors.”), whereas the reality of this sort of interaction is in most cases far more complex.

This observation also seems to me (based on my own experience, and the experience of others I’ve known) quite true. Those implementing the new no-go zone codes are absurdly “optimistic,” argues Kipnis, that they can police complex desire.

[W]ill any set of regulations ever prevent affective misunderstandings and erotic crossed signals, compounded by power differentials, compounded further by subjective levels of vulnerability?

Kipnis also says the obvious:

Let no one think I’m soft on harassment.

But:

I also believe that the myths and fantasies about power perpetuated in these new codes are leaving our students disabled when it comes to the ordinary interpersonal tangles and erotic confusions that pretty much everyone has to deal with at some point in life, because that’s simply part of the human condition.

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It’s a long piece and she repeats herself a lot, but she’s a fun writer. This, at the end of the piece, got a rise out of me:

[I]f colleges and universities around the country were in any way serious about policies to prevent sexual assaults, the path is obvious: Don’t ban teacher-student romance, ban fraternities.

(She doesn’t add that the situation is now so bad that more and more universities are in effect banning fraternities. That is, they’re banning this fraternity and that fraternity; they’re telling this fraternity it can’t come back to campus for three years, and that one that it can’t come back for five years… The litigation cost to the national chapters of the most notorious fraternities are getting intolerable, just as the wretched publicity for places like Dartmouth is getting intolerable… So fraternities are shutting down, but very, very slowly.)

Anyway, so here’s UD‘s thing. There’s an inescapable intensity, for some people on some campuses, to the professor/student relationship. This intensity tends to have in it elements of Pygmalion, Oedipus, Electra, blahblahblah. Less mythically, it may sometimes simply and unsurprisingly have to do with finding a person who admires and shares your intellectual, aesthetic, and moral, passions, and falling in love with that person. I say unsurprisingly because where, other than the Yale archeology department and a few other rarified locations, do you expect to find a fellow very specifically passionate archeologist? UD sincerely hopes that soulmates who meet in this way continue to follow their hearts.

“Mr. Emwazi, 27, grew up in West London and graduated from the University of Westminster with a degree in computer programming.”

UD thanks an anonymous reader for noticing that the University of Westminster has more than Rev. Female Genital Mutilation to be proud of! The biggest boldest beheadingest believer out there graduated from none other than Westminster University.

Mr. Emwazi, I’m calling from the Westminster University development office…

Sorry? Let me just put this knife down…

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The timing [of the Rev. FGM] could not be worse for Westminster University, after it was [revealed] that infamous … terrorist killer Jihadi John is a computer studies graduate.” The reverend will share some of his favorite clit-slitting techniques at the university tomorrow. Be there or be sexually intact!

Necks, clitorises – When it comes to the slicing of the body, Westminster University is the go-to place. Maybe it should open a medical school.

UD thanks a reader for sending her this news bulletin on the Vanderbilt rapes.

Guilty on all counts.

A very postmodern trial. People have been raping women for a long time, but today some juries can watch the rape, because the postmodern rapists record it.

Of course the guys on trial had every right to do whatever they could to try to stay out of jail, but UD would like to say for the record that it was probably a bad idea for one of them to walk into court brandishing an American flag lapel pin, and for the other one to talk about having no memory of the event while preparing to go to church the next morning. It was probably a bad idea for their defense lawyers to blame events on Vanderbilt University, which turns out to be so utterly dissolute a location that anyone there – even patriotic, churchgoing lads – would rape an unconscious woman. It was probably a bad idea for their defense to rig up a doctor to claim that the alcohol did it, not the football player.

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I know. When you’ve got a recording of the rape, there aren’t any good ideas. Point taken.

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Oh. As you gear up for the trial of the two other former Vanderbilt football players accused of raping this woman, don’t forget: Their coach now coaches at Penn State.

You cannot make this shit up.

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From one of the jurors:

He said the “defense did an incredible job, they were essentially given unwinnable cases and turned it essentially into the longest, hardest-fought legal battle.” He said he did not believe Batey’s testimony that Batey did not remember anything because he was drunk.

“I think Cory Batey’s testimony probably did more harm than good… His intoxication defense came a little bit late and was pretty lackluster when he got on the stand. He had clearly been coached… “

One of Australia’s worst takes hostage one of Australia’s best.

She has now escaped.

[Elly Chen is an] “absolute high achiever” who had graduated from the University of [New South Wales] less than a month ago with a bachelor of commerce, actuarial science and finance.

She was a prefect in high school where she studied advanced English, Latin and physics and finished with a high ATAR of 99.25. “She is a lovely girl. She was both swimming and tennis captain at the school and now she’s an actuary,” [a friend] said.

Ms Chen, who is fluent in Cantonese as well as English, and also studied Japanese, spent the year as an environmental leader at the university’s Stationery Reuse Centre, where she organised “events to further promote environmental sustainability on campus”…

They’ve certainly got a way with words at Delta Gamma.

A sorority at the university where Mr UD teaches – the University of Maryland – boasts a number of … interesting … women of letters.

Last year, there was the “cunt-punt” dust-up.

This year, there’s the hearty Happy Birthday wishes on the “fun, alcohol-themed cake.”

In the Atlanta Journal Constitution, no less, a columnist has the temerity to ask:

Is It Time To Ban Greek Life on Campus?

This, in the land of the University of Georgia!

She doesn’t really answer the question, though I guess she thinks banning them would be a good idea. I mean, she reviews the increasing number of schools doing that, or doing something short of that but on its way to being that… And she reviews the literature on frats.

Several studies have found frat members are more likely to commit rape: (Bleeker & Murnen, 2005; Boeringer, 1999; Foubert, Newberry & Tatum, 2007).

… Sixty-four percent of Greeks report binge drinking, compared with 37 percent of their classmates.

But in his research, Jeffrey DeSimone suggests frat members would likely drink with or without the fraternity; it is the prevalence of alcohol in frat life that attracts pledges in the first place. “Students who join fraternities presumably perceive that membership will facilitate desired binge drinking by matching them with students who share these preferences,” wrote DeSimone.

“Bring Out Your Dead!”

Or your dead drunk. It’s getting positively Monty Python at the amazing fraternities of the University of Arizona Tucson.

The Delta Tau Delta fraternity is also under investigation. Its most recent alleged conduct violation was in October. An officer with the University of Arizona Police Department said they were called to the fraternity house because of a fight.

Once at the house, police said they spotted an “unconscious female just inside the Delta Tau Delta house” that needed to be evaluated.

According to documents, when officers tried to check on her, “…people in the house attempted to carry her further inside the house, while ignoring the officers commands to let them inside to check on her well-being.”

Says here that “Since the start of this semester, 11 fraternities and sororities have been put on interim suspensions at the University of Arizona.”

UA is trying to reduce the number of student riots that tear the local community to shreds. They think if they keep pestering the frats, they will somehow decide to stop doing the only thing they do, the thing that defines them: Get violently drunk.

One of the frats is moving toward more targeted violence, rounding up a bunch of members and, apparently while shouting anti-semitic epithets, attacking an apartment in which Jewish students lived.

As one student interviewed about fraternities on campus says, “I’m not trying to join a gang.” But plenty of other students are, and the administration of the University of Arizona (a “business model” party school) now has a major problem on its hands. If you really shut the fraternities, your applications tank as students decide to attend distillery schools, of which there are plenty. If you don’t shut the fraternities, you’re looking at gang warfare.

Kitchen Sink Cautionary

If you’re a student thinking of suing a university for retaliating against you because you complained about being sexually assaulted by a professor, learn something from the failure of a Northwestern University student’s suit along those lines.

The judge … rejected the student’s claim that NU retaliated against her suit by rejecting her for a fellowship and denying her refund for a study abroad program deposit. In her original suit, the student admits an outside company rather than the University denied the refund, the judge noted in the ruling. The judge also said the student did not allege her fellowship rejection was “causally related to her threats to bring suit.”

Resist, when suing, the temptation to throw in everything but the kitchen sink.

“If [Amanda] Hu’s death is ruled a suicide, it will be Penn’s sixth student suicide since August 2013.”

UD‘s George Washington University experienced multiple student suicides earlier this year; the University of Pennsylvania continues – with Amanda Hu’s apparent suicide last Sunday – to deal with this horrible event.

Sadness, on an absolutely beautiful autumn day…

… at the death of a student at my campus. William Gwathmey came from a loving, accomplished New York family, and was on his way in the world too.

Gwathmey’s official cause of death has not been determined because a report by the D.C. Chief Medical Examiner’s office is not yet complete. The junior had used cocaine and drank alcohol the night before his death, according to a Metropolitan Police Department report. After going out to several nightclubs that night, Gwathmey returned to an apartment at The Residences at the Ritz-Carlton on 23rd Street, where he was later found unconscious on a couch, according to the report.

“You’re sitting out there in the sun and you’re not drunk anymore…”

From the mouths of babes. “Division I marketing executives” can huddle “at the convention for the National Association of Collegiate Marketing Administrators” and try to “figure out how to attract students to [university] football games,” but the numbers will just keep tanking until they listen to the students.

Journalists are elegiac: WHERE HAVE THE STUDENT FANS GONE? laments a Chicago Tribune article.

Division I marketing executives are confused: They are at a highly-paid, tanked-up loss as they reel from luxury retreat to luxury retreat refusing to understand a truth that threatens to put them out of business. Division I football doesn’t need marketing executives. It needs roofers, lighting experts, and liquor distributors to work together to make stadiums indistinguishable from bars.

Tailgate? No. Not a solution.

Think about it. As drunk as students get at a tailgate, there’s still the sun.

The solution to student attendance at football games is simple. It’ll cost some money, but since when do universities mind bankrupting their academic side to futz with their stadium? Here are the steps.

1. Build tunnels linking dorms to the stadium.

2. Put a roof over the stadium.

3. Create warm alehouse lighting.

4. Using the model of exit doors on airplanes, each student who sits at the end of a bleacher row will agree to be ready to deliver alcohol to any student anywhere on that row who is not drunk anymore.

“He was a gentleman and a friend…”

A young doctor at NYU commits suicide by throwing himself off of one of the university’s residence halls. He is remembered here.

“[I]n New Jersey, which has one of the most talented applicant pools in the United States, over 70% of the top students coming out of high school go out of state to college. Of the 30% who remain, Princeton and the College of New Jersey take a disproportionately high percentage.”

William Dowling, author of the wonderful Confessions of a Spoilsport: My Life and Hard Times Fighting Sports Corruption at an Old Eastern University, has taught at Rutgers University long enough to track its fall from its glory days as one of the public ivies. In an address to the Peithessophian Society, Dowling asks whether Rutgers can save itself as a university rather than a distillery. The current campus is

swarming with party animals who actively despise anything having to do with thinking or learning, who brag about cheating on exams, who spend most of their time playing video games or getting drunk with their friends, and who … should never have been admitted to college at all.

Note the actively despise. UD has noticed this at many of our football factories: Not just polite indifference to the life of the mind, but active hatred. Think Richie Incognito, the soul of the University of Nebraska. Dowling makes the obvious point that “a life devoted to mind or spirit or intelligence [is] what college is all about.” Yet it’s equally obvious that at Rutgers, as at other schools which have always been, or have decided – like Rutgers – to become jock shops, all the money now goes to coaches.

It’s a sad and sickening degeneration. Only students can arrest it.

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UD thanks Brent for sending her the link to Dowling’s talk.

Another murder of a student on the mean streets around the University of Southern…

California.

The Tao of Three Hundred Thou.

As Hillary Clinton’s unwise strategy of hitting up our universities for enormous sums of money begins to implode (here’s a long piece in the Washington Post about it), let us look at the matter more closely.

Say a famous speaker came to your campus – part of a fund-raising evening – and was paid $30,000. Drop one zero from Clinton’s 300 thou for a recent speech at UCLA and think about that much smaller sum. Is that a lot or a little? Remember: You are not a Goldman Sachs trader, but a university professor, or a university student.

If you’re a professor at UNLV, that amount is let’s say around a third of your yearly salary. A person shows up for an hour or two, gives a speech someone wrote for her, sits down, and gets a check for a third of your salary. Seems like a lot.

If you’re a student at UNLV, you’re looking at tuition going up 17% over the next four years. Out of state students already pay around $25,000; in-state pay around $6,000. $30,000 is a nice chunk of change.

Now put the zero back in. The trustees of your university shrug their shoulders at the 300 thou and lecture you about today’s capitalistic world (‘Brian Greenspun, a Las Vegas media baron and UNLV trustee, strongly defended Clinton’s fee, which he said is expected to be fully covered by proceeds from the dinner. He said her star power will boost foundation donations. “If you bring the right speakers in, people will come listen to them,” Greenspun said. “If you bring the wrong speakers in, no one will show up. The right speakers, in today’s capitalistic world, cost more money.”’), a capitalistic world against which Clinton’s speech – with its idealistic bromides – inveighs.

So… two things.

1. The number, the sheer number, the three hundred thou, is really by any standard of which you’re aware outrageously high. 30,000 is a lot.

2.

Harry R. Lewis, a professor and former undergraduate dean at Harvard University who has written critically about priorities in higher education spending, said speaking fees at Clinton’s level amount to “an extravagant form of advertising” for colleges that should focus instead on more scholastic initiatives.

“What makes fees at this level outrageous . . . is that one speaker’s fee becomes comparable to what it costs to educate a student for several years,” Lewis said. “At the same time you’re putting your students into serious debt, as most institutions do; it’s an allocation of resources that’s very suspect.”

One ostensible benefit for students is exposure to a major global figure such as Clinton they might not otherwise get. But Lewis questioned that rationale, asking, “Isn’t she on TV all the time?”

Of course, if you’re a UNLV student, you won’t get exposure to her unless you’ve got $200 to drop at the Bellagio.

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