FURTHER UPDATE: Heather MacDonald asks "How can women join special forces when they can’t even handle frat-boy pranks?"
Yale frat boys have been behaving badly, with obnoxious signs and chants:
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."Several students and alumni complained to the college and the Federal Department of Education. Last week, the Yale College Executive Committee prohibited the fraternity from any "activities on campus (including recruiting) for a period of five years" and punished some individual frat members. Given that the career of a Yale undergraduate is four years, this kills the frat's current chapter and makes any eventual replacement an entirely new organization.
Yale's undergraduate regulations underscore the value of free expression:
The history of intellectual growth and discovery clearly demonstrates the need for unfettered freedom, the right to think the unthinkable, discuss the unmentionable, and challenge the unchallengeable. To curtail free expression strikes twice at intellectual freedom, for whoever deprives another of the right to state unpopular views necessarily also deprives others of the right to listen to those views.Yale's regulations also narrowly define impermissible harassment:
We take a chance, as the First Amendment takes a chance, when we commit ourselves to the idea that the results of free expression are to the general benefit in the long run, however unpleasant they may appear at the time. The validity of such a belief cannot be demonstrated conclusively. It is a belief of recent historical development, even within universities, one embodied in American constitutional doctrine but not widely shared outside the academic world, and denied in theory and in practice by much of the world most of the time. . .
For if a university is a place for knowledge, it is also a special kind of small society. Yet it is not primarily a fellowship, a club, a circle of friends, a replica of the civil society outside it. Without sacrificing its central purpose, it cannot make its primary and dominant value the fostering of friendship, solidarity, harmony, civility, or mutual respect. To be sure, these are important values; other institutions may properly assign them the highest, and not merely a subordinate priority; and a good university will seek and may in some significant measure attain these ends. But it will never let these values, important as they are, override its central purpose. We value freedom of expression precisely because it provides a forum for the new, the provocative, the disturbing, and the unorthodox. Free speech is a barrier to the tyranny of authoritarian or even majority opinion as to the rightness or wrongness of particular doctrines or thoughts.
Sexual harassment consists of nonconsensual sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or other verbal or physical conduct on or off campus, when: (1) submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a condition of an individual's employment or academic standing; or (2) submission to or rejection of such conduct is used as the basis for employment decisions or for academic evaluation, grades, or advancement; or (3) such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual's work or academic performance or creating an intimidating or hostile academic or work environment.Given the college's commitment to free expression, why was stupid speech that fell short of advocating immediate violence punished? Because of political correctness, and the threat of serious sanctions from the Obama Department of Education.
So-called "Title IX" (20 U.S.C. § 1681) states:
No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.Yale College qualifies, because of grants and student loans--meaning that the Education Department could withhold Federal funding. And that became much more likely as the result of an April 4th "Dear Colleague" letter from the Education Department's Office of Civil Rights sent to schools, colleges, and universities nationwide, lowering the standard of proof for harassment (page 11):
The "clear and convincing" standard (i.e., it is highly probable or reasonably certain that the sexual harassment or violence occurred), currently used by some schools, is a higher standard of proof. Grievance procedures that use this higher standard are inconsistent with the standard of proof established for violations of the civil rights laws, and are thus not equitable under Title IX. Therefore, preponderance of the evidence is the appropriate standard for investigating allegations of sexual harassment or violence.I've long opposed using Federal courts to second-guess school decisions. But Title IX has turned campus sexual harassment into a legal issue. College tribunals can tarnish a person's reputation or culminate in expulsion--underscoring the importance of deference to free speech, and a proper burden of proof.
The Yale frat boys were boorish. Yet did they deprive anyone of equal access to education? Doubtful. But Obama's Department of Education is more interested in tilting the scales toward harassment accusers.
As a reminder, the First Amendment forbids the prohibition of photons or sound waves with which one disagrees, at least where there are other available remedies (such as contrary speech). But that principle has all but vanished from academia. As have conservatives. Notwithstanding Yale College's high-minded paean to free expression.
Remember when lefties loved Obama's supposed commitment to freedom of speech? In Atlantic magazine, self-described "civil libertarian feminist" Wendy Kaminer decries the "loss of political freedom" caused by the widespread trend toward "censoring offensive or hurtful speech":
Obama's OCR appointees . . . seem to be operating under the influence of the repressive disregard for civil liberty that began taking over American campuses nearly 20 years ago. . . Concern about social equality and the unexamined belief that it requires legal protections for the feelings of presumptively vulnerable or disadvantaged students who are considered incapable of protecting themselves has generated not just obliviousness to liberty but a palpable hostility to it.Agreed.
Sad to say, but feminism helped lead the assault on civil liberty and now seems practically subsumed by it.