Prof defines ‘antiracism’ as belief in equal outcomes among racial groups

A professor from American University explained the term “antiracism” to an assembly at George Washington University on Wednesday, and the definition is rather … intriguing.

Ibram Kendi, who teaches history and international relations and is the founder of AU’s Anti-Racist Research and Policy Center, claimed “racists believe unequal societies [and] racial disparities stem from unequal peoples.”

On the other hand, “antiracists believe that the racial groups are equal.” If there are differences among groups, Kendi says, they “must be the result of [racist] policies. It is that simple.”

In other words, in an ideal antiracist world, there would be equal outcomes.

Kendi voiced much the same sentiment in 2016 when discussing the idea behind his ARRPC:

“The more that I talked to people about anti-racist ideas and what anti-racist ideas allow us to see, I came to realize that means that racial inequality must be the result of racial discrimination or racist policies.”

If you follow the logic, this means that everything from schools’ “achievement gaps” to countries’ GDPs can be considered “racist.”

According to The Hatchet, Kendi’s lecture was tied to his upcoming book “How to be an Antiracist” and was part of GW’s celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. He also challenged “common perceptions” about the civil rights leader:

Kendi said Americans focus on King’s activism during the civil rights movement but ignore his more radical positions, like his opposition to the Vietnam War and organization of the Poor People’s Campaign just before his assassination in 1968.

“We don’t remember King the revolutionary, we remember King the dreamer,” he said.

Kendi said King’s “capacity to self-reflect and to self-critique” is an important part of being an antiracist, which he defined as the true opposite of racism. He said King’s experience in Los Angeles in the aftermath of the 1965 Watts riots inspired the civil rights activist to adopt a more vocal anti-war stance.

On his bio page, Kendi says he’s a “hardcore humanist and softcore vegan” and notes his parents “were student activists and Christians inspired by Black liberation theology.”

MORE: Fifty-fifty gender ratio needed across the board for true ‘equality’

MORE: New tool checks professors’ syllabi for gender, racial equality

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Business school offers anti-bias training…in virtual reality

Program offers ‘a back door’ into eliminating bias

The University of Southern California’s business school is offering community members the chance to eliminate their unconscious bias in virtual reality, using headsets to transport users to digital scenarios depicting discrimination in hiring practices.

The program, called “Exploring Unconscious Bias — A Virtual Reality Exercise,” is offered by the Marshall School of Business; the business school “hopes to pilot this summer in its Experiential Learning Center,” The Daily Trojan reports.

The program, presented as part of the university’s “Diversity, Equity and Inclusion week,” focuses on confronting and addressing “unconscious bias in the hiring process,” the paper reports:

The program that the company is currently developing with the center puts users in a scenario in which they are responsible for choosing the best candidate for a job. The exercise will begin with students reading and ranking five applications. Then, students put on the VR headset to complete a 20-minute hiring process, including video interviews with the candidates, who will be played by actors…

After students select the candidate they believe is best for the job, two “higher-ups” take on the task of further evaluating the selected candidate. The student will observe the conversation, which will be tailored to include biased comments — for example, criticizing an applicant’s tattoos.

In every scenario, the candidate the student selects ultimately will not be picked for the job. In the final portion of the exercise, students sit in the selected candidate’s car while he or she is rejected over the phone.

According to one of the program’s creators, the developers “wanted [to] create a narrative that created [emotional] investment for the student in the exercise.”

The virtual reality experience is meant to “invite open conversation without making students defensive about the implicit biases they may have,” one programmer said.

Read the report here.

MORE: Scientists developing A.I. tool to combat ‘hate speech’ on social media

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Catholic Georgetown University hosts Christian abortionist

‘I broke through the cocoon of religious custom that held me bound’

On Wednesday evening, Jan. 16, Georgetown University’s Lecture Fund hosted Dr. Willie Parker, an abortionist made famous for saying he performs abortions because he is a Christian. The event was co-sponsored by Georgetown University College Democrats and H*yas for Choice, Georgetown’s unrecognized pro-choice student group.

H*yas for Choice President Angela Maske told The College Fix via email that the organization was excited to have Parker on campus.

“HFC is proud to co-sponsor this event and excited to see Parker speak on our campus. Parker has an impressive record of both advocacy and direct services, and has helped countless patients, particularly women, obtain a variety of forms of healthcare that ideology-driven legislators have tried to restrict,” Maske said, noting that her group did not personally solicit Parker to come to campus.

“Dr. Parker has also said in the past that it is his faith that motivates him to provide these health services, particularly abortion, that many people desperately need,” Maske added.

When asked if it was appropriate for Georgetown, a Catholic university, to host a talk by an abortion provider, Maske said unequivocally yes.

“We believe that a desire to seek justice, driven by one’s faith, is very much in line with Georgetown’s values and reflects the experiences of our members, many of whom are Catholic, Christian, and of other faith backgrounds,” she said.

“Given that Georgetown has hosted and poured university resources into the Cardinal O’Connor Conference for nearly twenty years, we find that inviting a speaker such as Dr. Parker, whose work reflects the beliefs that many students on our campus hold, is more than appropriate.”

Security heavy at event

The night of the event, students had to swipe in to the venue and have their bags checked by three police officers. Three more officers were stationed inside around the perimeter of the room. By the time the event started, the space was packed with roughly a hundred students, staff, and faculty.

The Fix spoke to students before the event to learn why they came to see Parker speak. Georgetown senior Avery Moje told The Fix she attended because she’s currently reading Parker’s book, Life’s Work: From the Trenches, A Moral Argument for Choice. “I’m reading his book right now, and I find his stance really interesting. I think it’s great that the Lecture Fund is bringing someone so prolific in his field to speak,” she said.

Sophomore Andrea Carballo had a different take. “I don’t agree with his perspective, and I wanted to display that there is a community here at Georgetown that does not agree with abortion. I wanted him to see our face.” Carballo is a member of Georgetown Right to Life.

‘A moral and ethical obligation’ to perform abortion

The event began with an introduction by Lecture Fund board member Alice Collins, who lauded Parker as “a trailblazer for reproductive rights,” “a personal hero,” and “an inspiration.”

When Parker took the podium, he quickly laid down several ground rules before speaking.

“First, ‘Everyone’s entitled to their own opinion, but no one is entitled to their own facts.’ I will not accept alternative facts. Second, someone said, ‘While all think alike, none think too much,’ so in the spirit of honest dialogue, I hope to provoke thinking and thoughtfulness around even dissent. And the final thing, I ask that if we disagree, we do so in the spirit of Mahatma Gandhi when he said: ‘Honest disagreement is the beginning of progress’,” Parker told the crowd.

Parker spoke for roughly forty-five minutes, commenting on racism, oppression, patriarchy, and Christian hypocrisy while quoting Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr.

“I was never anti-abortion,” Parker said. “But I was conflicted about what it meant for me personally to provide abortion care.” For Parker, this conflict was resolved after listening to Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “Mountaintop Sermon” about the Good Samaritan. From then on, he believed he had “a moral and ethical obligation to provide abortion care.”

“I broke through the cocoon of religious custom that held me bound,” Parker said.

During a Q&A session that followed, Parker fielded questions about his personal limits on performing abortions, saying that he would not perform an abortion if he felt there was an underlying sex-preference, but he would refer the woman elsewhere. However, when asked if he was against “intact dilation and extraction,” in which a baby is partially birthed, its skull crushed and its brains sucked out of its head, Parker said no.

“I think that no procedure should be banned or outlawed outright for the purposes of people who are not medically trained and who don’t understand the indications for various surgeries and techniques. No procedure should be politicized and prohibited to the peril and detriment of someone for whom that procedure might be vital to have,” he said.

According to his website, the United Nations’ Office of Human Rights has recognized Parker as one of twelve Women’s Human Rights Defenders, and in 2015, he received Planned Parenthood’s highest honor: “The Margaret Sanger Award.” Currently, Parker is fighting to keep Mississippi’s final abortion clinic open and is serving as a board member for the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice.

MORE: Pro-abortion professor won’t say if unborn humans are human

MORE: Christian university promotes abortion to students via eugenics group

IMAGE: Sarah George

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Medical schools: The next front in the transgender wars

Harvard Medical is Ground Zero

Those of us who are concerned about the rise and spread of transgender ideology should be very alarmed by the news coming out of Harvard University: There, activists and benefactors are gearing up to rewrite the medical school’s curriculum in order to reflect the prevailing progressive belief about gender ideology. The proposed revisions seek to eliminate “assumptions or errors about sex and gender,” such as “conflating sexual orientation with gender identity, presuming gender is immutable or treating heterosexuality as a default.”

Well. A generation of doctors assuming that “gender” (they mean “sex”) isn’t immutable is something rather terrifying to contemplate. A doctor who believes that a man can be or become a woman, or a woman a man, does not exactly inspire a vote of medical confidence; the distinction between the two sexes is one of the obvious bright lines in the medical literature, it has been for millennia, and no amount of wishing will be able to change it. As for the idea that heterosexuality is not a “default:” Consistent polls indicate that upwards of 97% of individuals are heterosexual, possibly more. If that’s not a “default,” what is?

Working to make a medical program more comprehensive and inclusive is a good thing. Working to make it into a bizarre social experiment based on incoherent ideology is a very bad thing. This is the next front in the transgender wars: Having successfully convinced much of the culture of the merits of gender ideology, activists will now attempt to redesign the very foundations of modern medicine to reflect it. This should be deeply concerning to anyone who cares about facts, truth and good medicine, all of which are threatened by such efforts.

MORE: Transgender activists gearing up to rewrite Harvard Medical School’s curriculum

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Student activists petition schools to censor pornography on campus

Catholic universities allow porn on school networks; students demand change

Activists at two Catholic universities are petitioning their schools to censor pornography on campus, claiming that explicit sexual content on the Internet runs contrary to the schools’ values and poses a health risk to students on campus.

Amelia Irvine, a senior at Georgetown University, recently began efforts to have the Jesuit school install a porn filter on its university network. The Daily Beast reported that Irvine is considering a petition effort this semester.

In an interview with The College Fix, Irvine criticized the school for its lax approach to pornographic material on its network.

“In the United States, three of the top ten most-visited websites are pornographic. Internet porn use is quite common among young people; a March 2017 study found that 10 percent of college students are clinically addicted to cybersex,” Irvine said.

“Georgetown seeks to educate its students on the harms of alcohol abuse and sexual assault, but completely ignores the addiction that can fuel sexual assault: pornography addiction,” Irvine added.

“To correct this enormous oversight, Georgetown should install a porn filter on campus WiFi and publicize the harms of pornography. Of course, students and faculty would still be able to access pornography using their cellular data or by working around the WiFi filter, but a porn filter would give Georgetown the opportunity to make the moral case against pornography use,” Irvine added.

Catholic university appears to endorse pornography use

At the University of Notre Dame, meanwhile, student James Martinson is leading the fight for pornography censorship there.

The College Fix previously reported on Martinson’s efforts to have the school filter pornography on its network. “Our goal … is to help students realize how damaging pornography consumption is to your physical and psychological well-being,” Martinson told The Fix last semester.

Martinson says now that his group is focusing on multiple avenues to addressing pornography at the school. “We’re still in discussions with the University and are at the same time exploring other pathways of enacting this kind of change at Notre Dame,” he told The Fix.

“Students [elsewhere] have been asking me to get something similar done at their schools,” Martinson said.

He added that numerous national news outlets have contacted him about his efforts. “This kind of exposure has allowed so many people to think differently about how many students feel about pornography consumption and how it affects individuals, relationships and campus communities,” he said.

Notre Dame did not respond to The Fix’s requests for comment on its porn policy. The website of the school’s counseling center, however, does offer resources for those addicted to pornographic material.

Curiously, the counseling center’s website appears to at least tacitly endorse consumption of pornographic material. A series of “pornography reduction strategies” on the site advises students to “set a limit of using porn no more than once per day” and “use porn only on pre-selected days of the week.” (In contrast, the school offers materials explicitly geared toward quitting smoking rather than merely reducing tobacco consumption.)

Watchdog group says schools shouldn’t censor

According to The Daily Beast, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, a campus watchdog group, would give any university that censored pornographic material a “red light” rating.

“Most pornographic, sexually explicit, and offensive material is protected under the First Amendment. As such, any institution that claims to protect free speech should not treat pornography substantially different than other protected speech,” a spokesman for the group wrote.

Last semester, Notre Dame student Jeffrey Murphy wrote an opinion piece to the school’s newspaper, titled “Give Me Pornhub or Give Me Death,” in which he argued against Martinson’s efforts to have Notre Dame go porn-free.

“The relationship between the codified suppression of sexually-oriented material and the subordination of women extends well into the modern era (and will inevitably persist into the future),” Murphy wrote, pointing out that numerous countries that censor pornography, such as Afghanistan, nevertheless have poor track records on women’s’ rights.

“Giving any governing body — even a private entity not bound by the First Amendment — the subjective power to determine what content is or is not permissible has never, and will never, lead to prosperity for the intended beneficiaries of such censorial measures,” Murphy added.

Irvine, in contrast, told The Fix that Georgetown is obligated to block sexually explicit material on its campus networks.

“Georgetown, as a private, Catholic institution, has not only the right but the duty to take a stand against pornography. Pornography is not speech or art; pornography is a drug,” she said.

Martinson agreed. “This kind of issue at Notre Dame should be a no-brainer,” he said.

MORE: Sociology prof warns: Internet porn leads to ‘cheap sex’

MORE: Porn star gives college students ‘Intro to BDSM’ training

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U. Oregon MLK Day march to focus on ‘voices of women and youth,’ climate justice

To celebrate the country’s annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the University of Oregon, in conjunction with the local branch of the NAACP and Lane Community College, will highlight “the voices of women and youth, as well as environmental justice” during a pre-rally and march on January 21.

UO’s Division of Equity and Inclusion will host the pre-rally, after which marchers will proceed to the Shedd Institute of Art to listen to speeches from various community members including US Representative Peter Defazio and UO president Michael Schill.

According to the Daily Emerald, the NAACP’s Isis Barone said of the march and MLK that “[t]he African-American struggle for dignity and equality is quintessential to the American dream.” This somehow translates to … concern over climate change:

“In these political times this is a unifying day where we recommit to working for a dignified and just society […] We will focus on excellence in our community with an urgency on environmental and climate justice,” Barone said. …

Our Children’s Trust, a nonprofit organization known for advocating for the right to a stable climate, will be co-hosting the event. Dylan Plummer, Recent UO graduate and grassroots organizer for OCT, believes that the fight for environmental justice has much in common with the civil rights MLK Jr. was known for championing.

“King’s work for social justice has influenced our nation and the world tremendously,” Plummer said. “But we all have a responsibility to continue his legacy and fight for equal rights.”

“A right to a stable climate”? Man-made greenhouse gas emissions notwithstanding, when has the planet’s climate ever been stable?

Our Children’s Trust is the outfit which has sponsored numerous climate-related lawsuits across the country, including one against Washington State to “reduce carbon emissions 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050,” and another against former Florida governor Rick Scott for doing “not much” about climate change, aka global warming.

Read more.

MORE: Students deface MLK chapel to protest ‘rape culture’

MORE: School replaces MLK Day with seminars on privilege, Islamophobia

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Students defend Portland State professor disciplined for ‘grievance studies’ publishing hoax

Boghossian helps us avoid ‘following bandwagons and losing our minds to flights of fancy’

Portland State University, like the city in which it resides, has a reputation as a hotbed of far-left activism that’s intolerant of insufficiently woke progressives.

Not all students fit this reputation. Some are even coming to the defense of the PSU philosophy professor whose “grievance studies” hoax publishing project got him punished by the administration, and who will likely face additional sanctions when another investigation concludes.

The public university’s chapter of International Youth and Students for Social Equality published its interviews with students about Peter Boghossian on the World Socialist Web Site, of all places. (IYSSE is the student arm of the International Committee of the Fourth International, a Trotskyite organization that publishes WSWS.)

“Even though no tenured or adjunct faculty at PSU have come on record to defend Boghossian against retaliation, there exists a sentiment of support among students and staff who are disillusioned with identity politics,” the club writes, using only first names for its interview subjects.

A pre-med student said the project’s “dog-humping article and the fat body-building one” – both published by peer-reviewed journals – “were seriously funny, but it is also very serious. … It’s good to know that someone is taking a risk to reveal that problem.”

A former Boghossian student said the “counter-institutional” professor “doesn’t come at you with an agenda, to make you believe his ways.” Boghossian simply “believes there is a right and a wrong that exist without a religious backing”:

We need people who are willing to kick the beehive, when something isn’t working how it should be. … He hasn’t hurt anybody. It does say something about PSU when they are going after Peter, of all people. We need black sheep at the universities, otherwise there’s just a homogenous set of ideas.

“He is the only professor I’ve had that I disagreed with, but the way that he presented his reasoning, it was, like, undeniable,” another former Boghossian student said. Without naming her major, she said the fact that so many hoax articles got published “makes me feel like my degree is so invalid.”

The student also agreed with the club that “affluent and privileged sections of the middle class” are the most opposed to Boghossian because they most strongly embrace “subjective identity politics.”

MORE: Scholars blast PSU for punishing Boghossian – he’s just ‘stress-testing’ standards

Universities need more professors like the “genius” Boghossian, said another former student studying public health, “to make sure logic and intelligent thought is not lost in the angst of popular politics”:

We need people like him at PSU so that we can still pursue social justice, without following bandwagons and losing our minds to flights of fancy through our emotions.

A sociology student praised “the idea of someone challenging the semi-religious beliefs that self-titled liberals hold … PSU’s response was that it would be too difficult to fix it, so they would rather embarrass and threaten him.”

A computer science student called the hoax articles “so absurd that they shouldn’t have been published, let alone praised,” and the attacks on Boghossian “speaks volumes of how far the academia has fallen for various reasons. He should still be welcomed by the university for making an important critique to better research as a whole.”

The most hilarious response might come from another Boghossian student, who called the professor “my favorite teacher ever” and praised him for “taking risks and bringing in diversity”:

My very first time at Portland State, I had to take a pop culture class and we had to write an essay on homoerotic relationships between Spock and Captain Kirk in Star Trek and learn about porn fan fiction. I was like, “What is this school?” The professor was from gender studies, which I don’t have any issues with gender studies but just the way that it’s being taught. It’s not doing the topic justice.

There are more interviews. Read the WSWS article.

MOREAnonymous professors attack Boghossian as threat to PSU

IMAGE: The Rubin Report/YouTube

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French quota on female academics results in fewer women being hired

It’s the men’s fault, of course

New research indicates that a quota system meant to put more women on hiring committees in French academies has resulted in fewer women being hired as academics, not more. A “male backlash” against the quota system is allegedly to blame.

The quota, which dictated that “recruitment committees…draw at least 40 percent of their membership from each gender,” has led to 38 percent fewer women being hired for academic positions, Inside Higher Ed reports.

Those numbers are allegedly the result of a “male backlash,” according to Parisian economist Pierre Deschamps. He claims that “men that are changing their behavior as a reaction to the reforms,” while a paper on the subject posits that “men discriminate against women when their identities are threatened.”

The quota system has also not resulted in an uptick in woman applicants, Higher Ed says.

From the report:

These latest findings from France tally with earlier research using data from Italy and Spain, which also found that more women on an appointment panel did not boost female applications. Nor were women more likely to vote for female applicants — and male evaluators become less favorable to women when female evaluators joined the selection committee, according to “Does the Gender Composition of Scientific Committees Matter?” published in American Economic Review in 2017.

Some other countries have taken similar measures to France. In the Republic of Ireland, universities are working toward having at least 40 percent men and 40 percent women on appointment committees.

According to Deschamps, the dearth of women in senior academic positions “was more likely to be due to a lack of applicants, rather than the hiring process itself.”

Read the report here.

MORE: College imposes gender quotas on panels to prevent ‘sausage fests’

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Harvard violates Title IX by adopting guidelines that call ‘traditional masculinity’ harmful, complaint says

UPDATED

Provides ‘significant assistance’ to American Psychological Association

An activist who prompted a federal investigation of Yale University for anti-male bias has a new Ivy League target.

Kursat Christoff Pekgoz filed a Title IX complaint against Harvard University for its partnership with the American Psychological Association, saying it creates a toxic environment for male students.

The APA issued “guidelines” in August describing “traditional masculinity” as harmful, but didn’t widely publicize them until earlier this month. Pekgoz, a provost’s fellow in the Department of English at the University of Southern California, claims Harvard’s association with the organization violates Title IX in light of the APA’s report.

Harvard’s Clinical Psychology Program is accredited by APA, all clinicians in the program receive APA training, and all of Harvard’s staff psychologists and counselors use APA guidelines, according to the complaint. The university loans space on campus and its website to the APA as well. These ties demonstrate Harvard is providing “significant assistance” to the association.

The university’s endorsement of these guidelines “creates a hostile environment against men,” said the complaint, filed Tuesday with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights.

In addition to Pekgoz, attorney James Preston and John Davis of the Perses Institute are listed as complainants. Pekgoz told The College Fix that if necessary, Preston would also file litigation against Harvard in support of the Title IX complaint.

Shortly before this article was published, Pekgoz told The Fix he had learned that Preston may not be currently licensed as an attorney. (The complaint says Preston is “admitted District of Columbia” and gives his license number.) Pekgoz said he would remove Preston’s name from the complaint if he didn’t get verification of the lawyer’s status.

In an email to The Fix Thursday, Davis said Preston was “a member in good standing of the DC Bar and that is a matter of public record.”

Title IX complaint says Har… by on Scribd

‘No reasonable male person would seek counseling’ at Harvard under guidelines

The guidelines claim that “traditional masculinity ideology” has been shown to “limit males’ psychological development, constrain their behavior, result in gender role strain and gender role conflict, and negatively influence mental and physical health.”

Since the APA has classified traditional masculinity as a form of mental illness, and Harvard sponsors the association, it will lead to a discriminatory environment for men at Harvard who exhibit traits aligned with traditional masculinity, the complaint argues. (It refers incorrectly to the “American Psychology Association” throughout the filing.)

Pekgoz alleges that Harvard “discourages men from seeking counseling services” by using the APA guidelines: “No reasonable male person would seek counseling at a clinic where his sexual identity is considered to be a form of mental illness (or a driving factor for mental illness).”

“The American Psychology Association [sic] has made an insidious and ideologically charged move to declare masculinity itself to be a form of mental illness,” Pekgoz (left) told The Fix in an email. “APA’s move demonstrates the degree of radical feminist infiltration within America’s once-mainstream organizations,” he said.

“As per DOE policy, a hostile environment can occur even in the absence of intent to harm or even if the hostility is not directed at a particular target,” the complaint states. It cites 2010 guidance sent to colleges by the Office for Civil Rights under the Obama administration. “This includes situations in which ‘students are harassed for exhibiting what is perceived as a stereotypical characteristic for their sex.’”

Pekgoz’s complaint offers three suggestions for “injunctive relief.” The APA can “repeal the guidelines” on masculinity or alter them to “not rely on the kind of broad and regressive sexual stereotypes discouraged by Supreme Court doctrine,” or Harvard can “sever all ties” with the APA. Neither Harvard nor the APA responded to requests for comment.

Pekgoz has either filed or aided in more than a dozen Title IX complaints against colleges and universities, charging that they have illegally discriminated against men. He frequently notes that while women are a majority of college students nationwide, an inordinate number of scholarships are granted to women. “Almost every college offers a Women’s Studies Department, but no equivalent programs exist for men,” he says in the complaint.

The Harvard complaint “seeks to eliminate gender discrimination against men without jeopardizing the civil rights of women.”

UPDATE: The name of one of the complainants, John Davis, was misspelled in the original article. It has been fixed. Davis emailed The Fix Thursday to say that another co-complainant, James Preston, is listed in the public record as “a member in good standing of the DC Bar.”

MORE: ‘Reconstructing masculinity’ effort at UO works to end ‘oppression’

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Medievalists’ new behavior policy protects ‘vulnerable’ scholars from microaggressions, jokes, body language

The Medieval Academy of America has just installed a modern-day code of chivalry for the protection of its most “vulnerable” scholars.

On Jan. 2, the academy’s ad hoc committee on harassment released a professional behavior policy for its members, covering topics ranging from microaggressions to social media posts at conferences.

According to the document, it is meant primarily for the protection of “those in vulnerable positions” from other medievalist members, who could potentially “assert a relationship of power” over them.

What actions does the policy define as troublesome? While it is highly specific as to what constitutes sexual harassment, all of the other potential violations in the categories of “harassment,” “microaggressions,” “bullying” and “social media” are very general.

“Harassment includes demeaning, humiliating, and threatening actions, comments, jokes, other forms of verbal and/or written communication, body language, and physical contact,” the policy states.

This generality has been taken by some to be problematic; despite the academy saying it “will not take breaches of professional or ethical behavior lightly,” what exactly constitutes a breach in its judgement appears to be lightly outlined, if at all.

Much of what is written about is based upon an individual’s personal judgement or feelings. For example, the academy strictly prohibits harassment in the form of “demeaning” or “humiliating … body language,” but does not state what types of online actions are considered violations of either. It also says that bullying “may include refusal to recognize … personal constructions of work,” which, as the word “personal” implies, differs from one professional to another.

Under the category of “microaggressions,” instead of detailing in the policy what types of behavior are restricted, it links to a Tumblr blog titled “Microaggressions.” The blog’s last post was from over a year ago, and in the FAQ section in response to the question “What makes you an authority on microaggressions,” its authors admit that they “aren’t.” They do, however, define the term as “the subtle ways in which body and verbal language convey oppressive ideology about power or privilege against marginalized identities.”

The generalities regarding online violations are particularly concerning, especially given the importance of social media platforms like Twitter for the field; a lack of specificity in what is considered a punishable offense could end up decreasing the amount of conference tweets, hurting a valuable academic resource.

Professor Dorothy Kim, in a 2014 post on the prominent medievalist blog “In the Middle,” explains just how essential a free forum for discussion—#medievaltwitter—is. She compares conference tweeting to “the space of marginalia [the area in the margins that provides valuable commentary] in medieval manuscripts,” a modern-day, “real time” replication of the “conversations and connected marginal glosses of [medieval] readers.”

Even an argument, she says, just like the highly publicized debate between her and Professor Rachel Fulton Brown, “makes for a fantastic Q&A session,” and gives those who could not attend the conference a chance to participate in the discussion; one should “enjoy being in the thick of twitter marginalia.”

In short, Twitter makes it so that “you are part of a floating community that allows you—as we can see in Marie de France’s Fables, or Chaucer’s Parlement of Foules—to speak radical (and often uncomfortable) politicized, intellectual, and social truths.”

When reached for a comment, her frequent opponent, Professor Fulton Brown, agreed that one should be able to speak the necessary truth, even if some interpret it to be “uncomfortable.”

“The Medieval Academy,” she explained, “was a professional body founded out of mutual interest … for everyone who wanted to talk about the Middle Ages. I’m concerned about the effect that [this policy] is going to have on the professional body for its primary function, which was about open discussion about things that we might actually disagree on. If feelings are going to be the way in which we determine whether or not people belong in the conversation, then… it’s a change in the character of the professional body, from one of mutual interest to social belonging, and that will change its effectiveness.”

In response to such criticism and a request to comment, Professor Lisa Fagin Davis, the executive director of the academy, said this: “As stated in the introduction to the Policy, ‘Mutual respect is expected; neither harassment nor bullying will be tolerated. A Medieval Academy in which members behave professionally and ethically is an important component of the continued health of our field in the next scholarly generations.’ Academic freedom and free speech are cornerstones of our values as an organization. This Policy is designed to clarify behavioral expectations, support our values, and protect vulnerable attendees.”

MORE: Medieval Studies scholars deem field too white

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