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					Negotiating Passion on Campus
B ON N I E P FI ST ER



What's an activist to do when everyone from
George Will to "Saturday Night Live" satirizes
your work and accuses you of infantilizing
women and taking the fun out of sex?
    "I find it exciting," says Jodi Gold,
coordinator of STAAR, Students Together.
Against Acquaintance Rape at The--University
of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. "You don't get
a backlash until you've ruffled some feathers.
It means we've really pushed the envelope and
things are happening."
    The backlash has all but obscured the
radical importance of student efforts to
develop new, fairer—rules for sexual liaisons.
The emerging new code includes the
apparently controversial idea that potential
lovers should ask before foisting sexual
attention on their partners, and that partners
should clearly answer "yes" or "no." In other
words: people should communicate about their
desires before making love, rather than
waiting to be "swept away" by overwhelming
passion.
    While a deadpan legalistic approach to sex
is easy to ridicule, Jodi Gold believes that the
real reason media coverage of today's campus
activism is so highly critical is that Americans
are still scared silly by its sexual frankness—a
frankness that today's generation of young
people desperately need.
     "Sexuality is perhaps the most defining issue     Negotiating Passion on Campus         491
for today's students," says Alan Guskin, president     retool the policy while the administration con-
of Antioch College in Ohio for nine years, and a       sulted lawyers about its constitutionality. Womyn of
supporter of the often-mocked Sexual Offense           Antioch demanded the policy out of strength, not
Policy, the student-written rules for sexual con-      weakness, notes Saltman. "We get to say who
duct at the college, which have been in place since    touches us, and where."
fall 1992.                                                 The policy has been criticized as a return to the
     "Men and women students come to the cam-          1950s that disempowers women by viewing them
pus with a very different consciousness about          as damsels in distress and spells the death of
sexuality," notes Dr. Guskin. "The women have          amour.
learned they have a right to determine how their           Perhaps the critics are upset because they're
bodies are used, but many of the young men still       embarrassed, says Elizabeth Sullivan, Antioch '93,
think-the central question is how to get women to      now of Seattle. "It's still very hard for people to be
do what they want." The best way to deal with the      explicit about sexual intimacy. The policy limits
situation, says Guskin, is for women and men to        certain options, such as casual, thoughtless sex,
learn to communicate with each other. "The             while encouraging other options, such as
policy gives no specific checklist or statements.      accountability, sexual equality, and living in a
But there is a sense of how you should behave."        community with a reduced fear of harassment or
     The Antioch policy says verbal consent is         coerced sex."
needed before all sexual contact, and that                 Sullivan notes that critics act as though, with-out
con-sent is an on-going process that can be            this policy, there is no social context influencing
with-drawn at any time. Students who are               students' interactions at all. "Most of us acquire a
sleeping or unconscious or incapacitated by            whole set of norms and attitudes be-fore we become
alcohol or drugs are not considered capable            sexual with other people. We \ lk learn who is an
of consent. The policy also defines offenses           acceptable partner, we learn unspoken codes of how
as unwanted touching, verbal harassment,               to proceed, and we develop a set of expectations
and non-disclosure of sexually transmitted             about what sex should be," says Sullivan. In an
disease, including HIV, and defines                    intentional community like Antioch, people can
punishments for violations of various parts            choose to re-structure that context.
of the policy. All students are required to                Some students from other campuses who have
attend an educational workshop on consent              adopted the Antioch rules as their own, don't
and sexual offense each academic year.                 understand what all the fuss is about. Matthew Mizel,
     Guskin notes that the media swarming over         a student at Stanford (CA), likens the current
the campus for two and a half months reporting         resistance to people's initial embarrassment about
on the controversial policy accomplished more          asking a partner to use a condom during the early
student education on the issue than the college's      years of the AIDS crisis. "Why do people feel asking is
past five years of effort.                             not romantic?" asks Mizel. "All it does is clarify things.
     The policy emerged when thirty feminists dis-     For me, it's not a romantic situation until I know the
rupted a campus government meeting in Novem-           woman is comfortable."
ber, 1990, demanding institutional rules to deal           As a letter writer to The New Yorker noted,
with rape, says Bethany Saltman, Antioch '93 and       asking permission, as in—"may I kiss the hollow of
member of the original group, the Womyn of An-         your neck?"—does not have to be devoid of
tioch. Even at this tiny (650 students last fall)      amour.
alternative college, the administration seemed to          Students should be relieved to discard the old
prefer to keep rape reports under wraps. Faced         stereotypes that "masculine sexuality is dangerous,
with vehement, relentless protest and a flurry of      passionate, reckless, and that the woman is passive
local news attention, the administration reluctantly   and just laying back there," according to Mizel.
accepted the feminists' demand to remove any               Callie Cary, an Antioch spokeswoman, herself out
accused perpetrator from campus within twenty-         of college for less than a decade, scoffs at
four hours of a reported rape. But the rule was
adopted on the condition that a committee of
concerned staff and students would work to
  492         CHANGE * Change Makers

   the idea that the asking-before-you-touch policy               RATS IN THE IVORY TOWERS
   infantilizes women. "The assumption that this
   policy is about women saying no to men is based       At Lehigh University (PA), Jeanne Clery was
   on the idea that men initiate sex all the time. But   robbed, sodomized and murdered in her dorm
   I know there are men on this campus who feel          bed by a student she had never met. Jeanne's
  the women are very aggressive."                        own actions that night—it is believed that she
                                                         left her door unlocked for her roommate's con-
                                                         venience—made it clear that students are often
        ACTIVISM ON OTHER CAMPUSES                       shockingly oblivious to the dangers around them.
                                                         At the time, in 1986, Lehigh students regularly
While Antioch's policy contains the most detailed        propped open outside doors to allow friends to
rules for sexual correctness to date, feminist ac-       come and go easily. Lehigh had "studied" the se-
tions on a number of campuses have expanded              curity problem for eleven years but taken no ac-
from helping rape victims after the fact to including    tion until after Jeanne's death, according to Lynda
a preventive approach: These efforts by female—          Getchis of Security on Campus, a group founded
and      male—students     are    cropping     up   at   by Clery's parents.
conservative, co-ed universities like Syracuse (NY)         After this incident, then-freshman congressman
and Vanderbilt (TN), as well as traditionally liberal    Jim Ramstad (R-MN) joined forces with Clery's
women's colleges, such as Barnard (NY) and Mount         parents and crafted the Campus Sexual Assault
Holyoke (MA). Private schools such as Stanford and       Victims Bill of Rights. Signed into law in 1990, it
Duke (NC) Universities boast dynamic men's groups        requires that all post-secondary schools that receive
examining why men rape and striving to prevent it,       federal funding publish annual re-ports about crime
while students at public Evergreen State (WA) and        statistics on campus, institute policies to deal with
Rutgers University (NJ) are reaching out to local        sexual assault and offer rape awareness educational
high school girls with educational programs. On          programs.
black college campuses the emphasis is on how the           For 1991, the first year statistics were collected,
negative depiction of women in rap music                 2,300 American campuses reported 30 murders,
discourages fair treatment in the sexual arena.          1,000 rapes, and more than 1,800 robb e r i e s ,
   Most student organizers express some reser-           according             to       the         Chronicle
vations over Antioch's policy: some hate it, while       ofHigherEducation.             Most campus crime
others herald it as swinging the pendulum dra-           (78%) is student-on-student. While the crime
matically to the side of open communication about        incidence on campus is lower than that of the
sex—so far, in fact that they might not need to          country as a whole, student and parent perceptions
adopt such a radical approach at their own schools       of the campus as a safe haven make the crime levels
(phew!).                                                 seem more shocking.
   "I would love to address the Antioch policy, but         There is much controversy about just how many
from what I can gather from other people on our          women experience sexual assault at college—the
committee, it would be suicide for us to consider it     figures range from a scary 1 in 25 to a horrifying 1 in
here," says Melinda Lewis, a sophomore at                4. But even the smallest estimates amount to a large
Vanderbilt University in Nashville and president of      threat to women's safety.
Students For Women's Concerns. After speaking in            So it's no wonder that student activists are in-
spring 1992 with rape survivors who felt revictimized    creasingly pressing their colleges to own up to the
by the school's judicial system, Lewis returned in the   reality of crime and to codify, in writing, the kind of
fall to push for a new sexual assault policy. Although   campus they want. The demands usually include
she is sensitive to Katie Roiphe–inspired charges of     more stringent acquaintance rape policies and
"victim feminism," she counters that the term does        mandatory peer education for students of both
not accurately describe the activism—or the               genders.
problems—she sees around her.                             In the past five years, student activists have
                                                              increasingly focused on university policies, notes
                                                              Claire Kaplan, sexual assault education coordi-
                                                                 Negotiating Passion on Campus       493

nator at the University of Virginia. "This strategy    amine male socialization and responsibility in a
can be construed as students asking for protection,    rape culture. In fact, at NCSU, it was REAL-Men
but it is not a throwback to in loco parentis.' The    that organized last fall's Take Back the Night
institution has a contract with the student—the        march. The resident women's group, Help, Edu-
same kind of contract that could result in a third     cation and Activism on Rape (HEAR-Women) de-
party suit against employers or landlords who fail     veloped out of that.
to provide adequate protection against crime on            "In some ways it was easier for a group of
their premises."                                       men to come together to offer some legitimacy on
    Today's students are also coming of age in a       the issue," Ammons says. "Women on our
litigious, capitalist culture and many adopt a con-    campus are afraid to speak up about a lot of
sumerist creed: "I pay a lot of money to go to this    things. The fear of being labeled a feminist and
school, I deserve to be protected from assault,        being alienated here is very real."
and, at the very least, informed of its incidence on
campus."
                                                                                 '
                                                                  WHITE WOMEN S FEMINISM?

           COMING OF AGE IN THE ' 90s                  Melinda Lewis, an African American, is a sopho-
                                                       more at Vanderbilt and president of Students For
Today's young activists have a point of view so        Women's Concerns, a predominantly white feminist
different from those of the 1960s and '70s, that       group. "People question my involvement," she says.
commentators have had difficulty making the            "The rape issue is perceived as something with
connections. In the '60s it was college men who        which only Anglo, middle-class women are
had their lives on the line with the threat of being   concerned. But that's a misguided notion. Women of
drafted to serve in the unpopular war in Vietnam.      color are raped and assaulted tb much more
But today it is the women, and threat of rape,         frequently than Anglo women."
that's the flashpoint.                                     Jennifer Lipton, a Barnard College student in- Y
    And unlike the rebels of the '60s and '70s who     volved in rewriting sexual offense policy for the
were trying to tear down repressive rules, insti-      Columbia-Bamard community amidst administrator
tutions and social establishments, the generation      recalcitrance, agrees that the perception of
growing up in the no-rules '90s is striving to build   acquaintance rape as a "white women's issue" flies in
up a foundation of acceptable personal conduct         the face of reality. At the rape crisis center at St.
and institutionalized norms.                           Luke's–Roosevelt Hospital nearby, where she is a
    At Evergreen State College in Olympia, WA,         volunteer, most of the survivors she sees are women
the administration had spent two years, with no        of color, most very poor, some homeless.
end in sight, developing an anti-rap e protocol. In        "Their concerns are very different," Lipton , says.
the spring of 1993, rage at slow adjudication of a     "If their perpetrator is also black, they won-der if
rape charge boiled over into graffiti hits around      they should report it to the police. They are very
campus. The scribblers named names and pro-            aware of the racism of the iudicial system, and
claimed, "Rape Me and I'll Kill You," said Nina        worried about what it will do to their own community
Fischer, a member of the Rape Response Coali-          if they turn in this man. They also know that, as poor
tion. The university protocol went into effect last    black women, society doesn't really value what they
fall, and students plan to take their rape aware-      say."
ness workshops to local high schools this spring.          However, at many African American colleges,
    Radical approaches are less popular at a           date rape is a significantly less prominent gender
school like North Carolina State University in         concern than how women are depicted in rap
Raleigh, says Brian Ammons, a founder of that          music and advertising, reports Dionne Lyne, a
school's REAL-Men (Rape Education and Active           student at the all-women Spelman College in At-
Leadership). Originally active as the male-            lanta and member of the new campus organiza-
involvement voice in crafting a campus sex of-         tion SISTERS (Sisters in Solidarity to Eradicate
fense protocol, Ammons formed the group to ex-
494          CHANGE + Change Makers
 Sexism). There's also anger at the persistent ref-           "It's always coming up: `What if this happens?
 erence to certain Pan-Hellenic parties as "Greek          Is this rape? How about that—is that rape?"' said
 Freaks," because of the use of "freak" as a dispar-       James Newell, a senior at Syracuse University
 aging term depicting black women as nympho-               and president of the five-year-old co-ed student
 maniacs.                                                  groupSCARED (Students Concerned About Rap
"There is a silence on the issue, a sense of,             Education). "Men feel victimized by groups like
 `Yeah, it happens but we really don't want to            ours. But we are not a group that's against sex."
 know about it.' It reinforces the [idea] that these               Examining male expectations of sex is one
 things happen to bad women, and we're just go-          tactic used at Duke University in Durham, NC, by
 ing to assume that we are all striving to be Spel-      the four-year-old student group Men Acting for
 man women, who are finer than that," Lyne says.
     Spelman and brother school Morehouse College           the eight-session course on men and gender is-
                                                            sues, a topic that precedes the class on rape, says
  frequently co-sponsor educational programs               Jason Schultz, a MAC co-founder who graduated
  about acquaintance rape, but Lyne says many in spring 1993.
  women get the sense that Morehouse men are                   While most of the women activists inter-
  lecturing them about the issue, as if the men don't viewed praised the men's organizations that are
  have a thing or two of their own to learn about working against sexual violence, many ex-
  date rape. Morehouse organizations have fre- pressed reservations and some suspicions about
  quently scheduled their programs on Spelman's token support from other men's groups. One
  campus rather than their own, and fill the room woman who asked not to be named criticized a
  with women and just one or two men.                      men's group on her campus whose sole pro-
      Thomas Prince, associate director of counsel- feminist action is an annual day-long wearing of
  ing at Morehouse, counters that there are nu- white ribbons to signify opposition to sexual as-
  merous anti-rape programs on the men's campus sault. "Frankly I think it's a very shallow and
  for co-ed groups, but his description of them trivial way of responding," she said.
  seemed to indicate upon whom the responsibility              Kelly Wall, a founder of HEAR-Women at
  is placed.                                               North Carolina State, expressed irritation that the
      "We cover the FBI statistics, . . . talk about the most visible anti-rape presence on campus be-
  things that might be contributing to the rise of ac- fore HEAR was comprised of men.
  quaintance rapes and what to do if it happens to             The REAL-Men group is aware of the appar-
  you. [That is] . . . what women can do if they find ent irony of the situation. "We're very conscious
                                                           of what our place is. We don't want to take over
  themselves in that situation," Prince said.              the issue," Ammons says. Although his group
      Prince states that there is no student group does deal with "secondary survivors" (men who
  specifically organizing around this problem at are grappling with their feelings about the rape
  Morehouse, and felt the Antioch policy did not of a lover, friend or relative), it is with some hesi-
  encompass the way African-American men and tation that they discuss the issues of male survi-
  women communicate about sex. "The language vors of sexual offense.
  used around African American males is different,"            Anti-rape activist Matthew Mizel at Stanford
  Prince said. "They have their own way of University says he sometimes feels his motivation
  communicating verbally."                                 questioned. Mizel founded Stanford Men's Col-
                MEN AGAINST RAPE                           lective in fall 1992 to discuss where rape comes
                                                        i) from and how to stop it by examining men's own
 Some male activists are just as disturbed as their behavior. A talkative, outgoing senior easily rec-
female counterparts with men's penchants during J ognized on campus by his long blond hair, Mizel
educational programs for doggedly questioning the says the praise he gets from women for his work
technical definition of rape or assault, rather            generates curiosity and the occasional impres-
  than focusing on the nature of sexual relationships sion that he's doing it to "get laid."
  themselves.
             Many Students Press Colleges to Substitute `First-Year Student" for the Term `Freshman"   495

      "Men have asked if I'm trying to gain points
with women and be some kind of super-
heterosexual.... And some women have asked if
I'm gay—as if there was no chance that I'm just a
regular person who cares about this issue," Mizel
said.
      These young men make it dear that anti-rape
work is not just a woman's thing, and that the
most progressive voices among college students
are determined to rewrite the sexual code to fit
the needs of their generation.
      And they agree that a rewrite is necessary. At
the University of Virginia, Claire Kaplan de-
scribed a seminar in which several fraternity men
asserted: "When you get to a certain point during
sex you can't stop," an attitude she thought had
long since fallen to the wayside. "That's why the
Antioch policy was created," she notes. "There is
still the attitude—don't talk, just do."      [1994]

Note
   1. IN LOCO PARENTIS: Literally "in place of the
   parent," the view that colleges have the re-
   sponsibility to control all facets of student life.
Understanding the Reading

1. Why are students today implementing sexual
   codes on campuses?
2. What does the Antioch policy require students
   to do?
3. What initiated the Antioch policy?
4. How do students at schools where sexual
   codes exist feel about them?
5. What was the effect of the rape and murder of
   Jeanne Clery?
6. What role have men played in activism against
   sexual violence?
7. Why is sexual violence not just a White
   woman's issue?
8. How do some men respond to rape educa-
   tion workshops?
9. What is a "secondary survivor"?
Suggestions for Responding

1. Alone or in a small group, develop a sexual
   conduct code for your campus.
2. Research and report on the crime statistics
   for your school. +

				
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