Dankprofessor’s Weblog

A weblog examining sexual politics in higher education and beyond.

Univ of Iowa prof raises havoc in response to Republicans “coming out”

When we speak of people coming out, I think such generally implies that one is coming out of some sort of “closet”.  One has been closeted since one fears that being known would lead to one being hurt in some sense.

Apparently Republicans at the University of University of Iowa have been living in fear and have been closeted.  So some UI Republicans have called for a coming out on campus at specific times and places via sending a coming out announcement to all university personnel.

Such has raised quite a ruckus at the University of Iowa.  Even a UI Women’s Studies professor engaged in some very foul language regarding the coming out announcement.  Even the President of UI has issued a statement on the issue.

Following is a detailed report as to the situation at UI and Iowa City.

A University of Iowa professor who studies same-sex relationships was so upset by a mass email from a campus Republican group promoting “Conservative Coming Out Week” that she fired off a vulgarity aimed at all Republicans.

Ellen Lewin, a professor of Anthropology and Gender, Women’s & Sexuality Studies in the Department of Gender, Women’s & Sexuality Studies, responded to the email by writing, “F*** YOU, REPUBLICANS” from her official University of Iowa email account.

Lewin’s message prompted a flurry of e-mails in response, all of which were published on The Iowa Republican, a GOP news website.

UI student and Chairwoman of the Iowa Federation of College Republicans Natalie Ginty demanded an apology from Lewin’s supervisors.

“We understand that as a faculty member she has the right to express her political opinion, but by leaving her credentials at the bottom of the email she was representing the University of Iowa, not herself alone,” Ginty wrote to James Enloe, the head of the Department of Anthropology.

“Vile responses like Ellen’s need to end. Demonizing the other party through name-calling only further entrenches feelings of disdain for the other side. I am sure you understand that nothing is ever accomplished by aimless screams of attack,” Ginty wrote.

Lewin later wrote back to explain, “This is a time when political passions are inflamed, and when I received your unsolicited email, I had just finished reading some newspaper accounts of fresh outrages committed by Republicans in government. I admit the language was inappropriate, and apologize for any affront to anyone’s delicate sensibilities. I would really appreciate your not sending blanket emails to everyone on campus, especially in these difficult times.”

In a later email to the group, Lewin wrote the following:

“I should note that several things in the original message were extremely offensive, nearly rising to the level of obscenity. Despite the Republicans’ general disdain for LGBT rights you called your upcoming event ‘conservative coming out day,’ appropriating the language of the LGBT right movement. Your reference to the Wisconsin protests suggested that they were frivolous attempts to avoid work. And the ‘Animal Rights BBQ’ is extremely insensitive to those who consider animal rights an important cause. Then, in the email that Ms. Ginty sent complaining about my language, she referred to me as Ellen, not Professor Lewin, which is the correct way for a student to address a faculty member, or indeed, for anyone to refer to an adult with whom they are not acquainted. I do apologize for my intemperate language, but the message you all sent out was extremely disturbing and offensive.”

UI President Sally Mason responded in an email to the university community:

“Dear Members of the University Community:

The University of Iowa encourages freedom of expression, opposing viewpoints, and civil debate about those opposing viewpoints. This is clearly articulated in our core values of Diversity and Respect. Because diversity, broadly defined, advances its mission of teaching, research, and service, the University is dedicated to an inclusive community in which people of different cultural, national, individual, and academic backgrounds encounter one another in a spirit of cooperation, openness, and shared appreciation.

The University also strongly encourages student engagement in such discussions and supports students acting on their viewpoints. Student organizations are sometimes formed along political lines and act on their political beliefs. Even if we personally disagree with those viewpoints, we must be respectful of those viewpoints in every way. Intolerant and disrespectful discord is not acceptable behavior.

Sally Mason
President”

The original e-mail from the College Republicans was sent out under the university’s mass email policy, in which campus groups can e-mail all or parts of campus so long as the message is approved by UI Student Services:

From: UI College Republicans

Subject: [NonAcadStudorg] Conservative Coming Out Week

Conservatives in Iowa City it is now time to come out of the closet!

I know at times it feels like you are the only person that disagrees with this liberal town, but you are not alone! We are asking all Republicans, Independents leaning right, or just anyone slightly frustrated with the current one party controlling every level of Johnson County, and some levels of Iowa and U.S. government to STAND UP!

Conservative Coming Out Week will be April 18th – April 22nd. Here is the schedule of events that will be going on throughout the week:

Monday: Whose Conservative Anyway? Guess which athletes, movie stars, and performing artists are Republican. 11-1 on Kautz Plaza off of the T. Anne Cleary Walkway.

Tuesday: Red vs. Blue Blood Drive from 2 to 6pm at the Carnival Room in Burge. Competition between the Republicans and Democrats for a good cause!

-College Republican meeting that night at 8pm in 71 Schaeffer Hall with showing of “Journey’s with George” in honor of President George W. Bush.

Wednesday: Come pick up your Doctors’ Notice to miss class for “sick of being stress”, just like the Wisconsin public employees during the union protests from 11 to 1 on the Pentacrest.

Thursday: Red vs Blue games! Beat the UDems in kickball and flag football from 4-6 in Hubbard Park. Wear your respective political parties color!

Stick around for a Animal Rights BBQ at 6 p.m.

Friday: Wear RED Day! Come out of the closet and show your true colors!

Should be a great week! Lets come out!

April 21, 2011 Posted by | feminism, higher education, sexual politics, Uncategorized, University of Iowa | 1 Comment

Sexual Obsessives and Yale

The Daily Telegraph engages in shoddy journalism when it stated the following about the Yale embroglio-

As the Ivy League alma mater of five U.S. presidents, 18 Nobel laureates and countless captains of industry, Yale has one of the loftiest names in education.

But the $40,000-a-year university has found its reputation being dragged through the mud by a sex scandal that threatens to leave a stain on 300 years of academic excellence.

Oh, please, a stain on 300 years of academic excellence. The antics of some fraternity chaps at Yale has nothing to do with academic excellence. Academic excellence and fraternity mischiefs both have long histories at Yale and I expect at all so-called Ivy League colleges.  They co-exist in their own separate realities.

And as for the Daily Telegraph assertion that there is a sex scandal at Yale, the dankprofessor asks “What sex scandal?”  Filing complaints about frat boy pranks does not make a sex scandal unless one is a sexual obsessive.

April 9, 2011 Posted by | higher education, sexual harassment, sexual politics, United Kingdom, Yale University | 1 Comment

The Yale Ballyhoo

Sexual harassment, so-called hostile environment sexual harassment, sexual assault, rape continue to be conflated as indicated by a the complaint of 16 Yale students to the Dept. Of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (the OCR) and the public responses to said complaint.

As dissident feminist Wendy Kaminer points out the group’s complaint

“reportedly includes testimony about sexual assaults, but the hostile-environment charge against the university rests as well on a litany of complaints about offensive exercises of First Amendment freedoms. A December 2010 draft complaint letter, obtained by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), focuses on these “incidents”: 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.”

It is these public incidents that have engaged the public’s attention and brought forth a condemnation of sexual harassment/assault by Vice President Biden.  But what some call sexual harassment boils down in the dankprofessor terms as obnoxious and offensive behavior.  And the terms used are of import since offensive and obnoxious behavior are constitutionally protected and university sexual harassment codes, particularly of the hostile environment genre, may impinge on constitutionally protected speech.

For example, take the “Yale Sluts” sign which was held up by a group of Zeta Psi Fraternity members in front of the Yale Women’s Center and then the circulation of this imagery in the wider campus community.  In response to this incident the Women’s Center called for “an overhaul of the University’s sexual-harassment and assault education policies, increased regulation of fraternities, disciplinary actions against Zeta Psi members…”  The Center’s board indicated they will continue in their ongoing quest to end the “fraternity-sponsored or enabled sexual harassment, assault and rape” they had observed on campus.

So putting it in rather blunt terms condemning the Zeta Psi actions as offensive is not enough; the problem according to the Women’s Center is that the Zeta Psi members are rape enablers.  And the dankprofessor surmises that those who assert that the actions of the Zeta Psi members are constitutionally protected, they too are at risk of being labeled as rape enablers.

What was and is needed at Yale is some form of conflict resolution between fraternities and women’s organizations.  But based on my information in the three years since the 2008 incident, there has been no communication at Yale between Zeta Psi and organizations such as the Women’s Center.

Name-calling whether it be sluts or rape enablers is puerile.  The basic problem at Yale is one of civility.  The problem of civility will not be ameliorated by taking this situation into an adversarial legal system, and using the media as a means of demonizing  the “other side”.

April 9, 2011 Posted by | civility, feminism, fraternities, higher education, rape, sexual harassment, sexual politics, Uncategorized, Yale University | 3 Comments

Iowa State and student prof sexual relationships

The Smith Report has a pretty good post on student professor sexual relationships with a focus on Iowa State. The article gets the dankprofessor’s seal of approval and this is the first  news from Iowa I have had on this subject which was not University of Iowa based; so there is life in Iowa beyond Iowa City.

April 1, 2011 Posted by | higher education, Iowa State University, sex, sexual politics, student professor dating | Leave a comment

   

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