I am really optimistic about the future of sexual misconduct policy at Yale. Which is a very surprising thing to realize.
I’ve been giving this a lot of thought recently. Today I went to an end-of-year breakfast for student consent educators, and a workshop where I evaluated a prospective employee of the campus rape crisis center. I’ve been working in health education and sexual violence prevention for about as long as I’ve ever done anything, and next year I won’t really be doing it any more.
I first met my boss, before the student group that I’m now employed with even existed, when I sent her a really angry email about sexual misconduct policy after the DKE initiation incident. It was a bad time for that kind of stuff, and it’s a unique feeling for someone with my blood and vinegar disposition towards systems failures and sub-par authority figures to feel so strongly about something so wrong and be able to do so little. “Frustrating” feels like too small a word. There was no administrative support for a campus-wide discussion about sexual culture. There was no concerted sexual violence prevention effort at all. There still aren’t in most colleges.
This job has been one of the toughest things I’ve ever done, not really because the job itself is that hard (it is, but I’m well-suited to it), but because putting faith in the Dean’s office to use my skills and passions appropriately was a really torturous trust fall for me. I loathe nothing so much as being underused, and submitting to supervisors who had delicate political games to play with administrators was a bit of a roller coaster for me this year.
But I’m really proud of the work that I’ve done. Our group of forty educators has worked with 3.5 thousand students this year. I myself have probably administered workshops to 200. I co-wrote and developed a bystander intervention program that I helped deploy this year and that will likely become mandatory for many students next year. It took a federal Title 9 investigation, but I feel like the administration has actually had my back on this stuff this year. Which makes a huge difference. We like to think we act alone, but especially with this kind of work there’s nothing like being supported.
The kind of discussion that I always hoped for is finally starting to happen, and it’s happening in a systemic way; these aren’t angry debriefing discussions after a major campus harassment incident, they’re ongoing and unprompted, and well attended.
I was wrong about this program, and I was wrong about this school, and I was probably wrong about people in general. And I’m very glad about that.
I really enjoy following Aditya’s tumblr.