In February 2015, Columbia University—currently ranked the fourth most distinguished academic institution in the United States by U.S. News and World Report—announced that all its students, undergraduate and graduate alike, would be obliged to take part in a “Sexual Respect and Community Citizenship Initiative.” This “new, required programming,” the Columbia bureaucracy explained, was designed to explore “the relationship between sexual respect and community membership.”
Columbia’s students were given a menu of “participation options.” They could watch a minimum of two preselected videos about “rape culture” and gender identity and write a “reflection” about what they had learned. They could attend film screenings about sexual assault and masculinity and engage in a monitored discussion afterwards. They could create a “work of art” about the “relationship between sexual respect and University community membership.” Or, if they “identif[ied] as survivors, co-survivors, allies, or individuals who have experienced forms of secondary trauma,” they could attend workshops on “Finding Keys to Resiliency.”
Options in the “Finding Keys to Resiliency” module included a “mindfulness workshop” on “cultivating nonjudgmental awareness and being more present for their experience.” If attending the book launch for SLUT: A Play and Guidebook for Combating Sexism got one too agitated about female oppression, one could unwind at a “Yoga class for women” or a “knitting circle.”
To help students organize their required “reflections” on the videos, Columbia provided a set of questions suggestive of a New Age encounter session: “Kalin [a speaker in a video] shares his ‘why’ for passion around prevention education. What is his why? If you have a passion for prevention, ‘what is your why’?”
Another prompt suggested: “Reflect on the idea of manhood as discussed in this talk. What is the interaction of the constructs of manhood and power dynamics?”It sounds ghastly. But surely they don't send you to the gulag should you resist, right?:
Students who failed to log the requisite sexual-respect hours and complete the requisite sexual-respect assignments could be blocked from registering for academic coursework—or from graduating.Okay, it's not an actual, physical gulag, but it is a gulag of sorts.
Update: More campus madness--UNC’s ‘Literature of 9/11’ course sympathizes with terrorists, paints U.S. as imperialistic
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