Washington Post reporter Nick Anderson’s response to our June 16 critique of his (and three of his colleagues’) very long front-page articles on June 12 as misleading readers about campus sexual assault is revealing, both for what it says and for what it does not.
As to the latter, a Post reader might assume that the only criticism of the paper’s work came from what Anderson calls a “conservative journal.” Anderson conveniently overlooks the fact that we, the authors of the article, are a Democrat and an independent, both of whom have voted for President Obama twice. The Post’s efforts also received strong rebukes from Robby Soave in Reason, a libertarian journal, as well as Ashe Schow in the Washington Examiner and David French in National Review Online.
More important, Anderson does not even attempt to rebut our exposé of the misleading nature of several of the Post’s “survivor” stories. The Post’s lead story, for example, describes as a “survivor” a student who woke up after a night of drinking to find her head bloodied and a man she didn’t know in her bed. Some 2,700 words later, any readers who got to the end would have learned that this appears in fact not to have been sexual assault at all, but rathera typical drunken hookup that neither party remembers well. Even the accuser conceded that “she doesn’t know for sure whether she had wanted sex in the moment.” This admission came after police showed her photos of the hickeys that the accused said her lips had branded on his neck, as evidence that she “was very into everything that was happening.” As for the bleeding, it was apparently self-inflicted when the accuser fell out of her loft bed onto the floor, while the male was asleep.
The Post learned these details only because this “survivor,” a Michigan State student named Rachel Sienkowski, filed a report with police, who then spoke to the man that she accused. The lengthy Post series, which included a page in which dozens of “sexual assault survivors tell their stories,” provides scant indication that either Anderson or any of his colleagues made any attempt to speak with both sides in other stories thatthe paper featured.
Rather than defending such results, and the one-sided approach to reporting that produced them, Anderson’s response confines itself to bolstering the Post-Kaiser Family Foundation poll and the newspaper’s assertion that it confirms claims by the administration, most of the media, and others that around 20 percent of female college students are sexually assaulted while at school. But the Anderson response does not come to grips with our demonstration that the poll and accompanying reporting were structured to inflate the number, chiefly by listing a wide range of conduct (including sex while “drunk”) that could trigger a positive response from the students polled.
At last, a little good news from the academy. Oberlin College has a sense of humor -- or at least its choir does. I don’t know that the subversive (by Oberlin standards!) song they've perormed has a title, but it might well be “Please Don’t Put Me In the Real World.”
Attraction. Pleasure. Attachment. Reproduction. Fulfillment. What is the meaning of sex? The answer lies somewhere in the way we integrate the biological imperatives with the emotional and experiential realities. I’m not going to improve on that answer in the next few pages, but I’ll complicate it a bit.
Every spring, thousands of American higher learning institutions and tens of thousands of high schools send their graduates off with a commencement ceremony. A centerpiece of the event, as old as American education itself, is the commencement speech. At their best, these speeches furnish students with wise and inspiring advice for the future. The choice of speaker is also part of the message; it signals the sort of person of whom the university, college, or high school approves.
Now that the liberals who were once insurgent voices in the undergraduate student body are the presidents and deans of American universities, they’ve decided it is high time for those universities to reevaluate their outdated devotion to freedom of speech. The proper modern university, they believe, is a serenity-zone where students can meditate on the evils of capitalism undisturbed – unless they accidentally wander into Texas Tech’s free-speech gazebo.
Start with those old enough to be graduating from law school. The law business ain’t exactly what it used to be -- so hungry for new lawyers that anyone with a law degree could find work and earn enough to start chipping away at his or her student loan, unless responding to government incentives to wipe the loan from the books seemed more attractive. Those halcyon days may never return, but the worst seems to be over.
A front-page story in Tuesday’s Washington Post examines former Florida governor Jeb Bush’s record on ending affirmative action for college admissions. Through a 2000 executive order, Bush banned racial preferences in Florida’s public universities and colleges. The move was controversial at the time and prompted massive protests in Tallahassee.
If anyone was unsure of the veracity of Rolling Stone's account of an alleged gang rape at a University of Virginia fraternity, the final nail is now in the story's coffin. Sunday night, the Columbia School of Journalism released its much anticipated blistering report on the magazine's November feature.
I was on my way out of class when my social welfare and policy professor casually called me over to tell me this. The friendliness of her tone did not match her words, and I attempted a shocked, confused apology. It was my first semester at the Hunter College School of Social Work, and I was as yet unfamiliar with the consistent, underlying threat that characterized much of the school’s policy and atmosphere. This professor was simply more open and direct than most.
If you pay any attention to the ways in which radicalism dominates the culture of the university these days, you're likely to feel as though you've gone through the looking glass. "White privilege." "Trigger warnings." "Rape culture." All of this (and much else) has turned academia into a bizarre, Orwellian simulacrum of itself.
The country’s incoming college students have been exhorted, repeatedly, to major in something “useful,” rather than something intellectual. The idea is that there is a split between “useful” majors, which teach a specific skill (like marketing, computer science, or architecture) and “useless” majors, which are designed to impart, gasp, knowledge (think the humanities, natural sciences, etc). Major in something “useful,” the argument goes, and expect to be showered in riches. Those who major in something “useless,” meanwhile, can look forward to a future on the unemployment line.