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Opening Arguments

Good old college daze

Sometimes it's possible to not think about how insane it's getting on college campuses. But when there are three crazy stories on the same day, the culture of oppression becomes pretty hard to ignore. First up, Duke University:

A new word-discouragement campaign at Duke University has labeled phrases such as “Man Up,” “That’s So Gay,” and “Don’t Be a Pussy” offensive language that “delegitimizes” homosexuality and oppresses and insults people.

But as the campaign has gained national popularity, its detractors have bristled at the effort, calling it a politically correct war on words that will stifle free speech and suggesting its true aim is to redefine terms to control public opinion and – ultimately – public policy.

In fact, the “You Don’t Say” campaign creators have admitted as much.

“Language is a reflection of how we think about others and view the world,” Jay Sullivan, a student leader of the campaign, tells Duke Today. “My goal is to…. help facilitate discussion about how language affects many social issues, from race to gender and sexuality.”

It's not especially comforting that this seems to be bubbling up from the students rather than being dictated by the university. It means all that indoctrination the students have been subjected to all their lives has taken hold.

Next up, Dartmouth, where the Alpha Phi sorority and Phi Delta fraternity had planned  a cardiac-care fundraiser to be called Phiesta (moderately clever that). But a single complaint from a student was enough to get the event cancelled:

But when Daniela Hernandez ’15 heard about the event, she sent an email to complain that the theme was racially insensitive.

“There are various problematic structures and ideologies regarding a Cinco de Mayo-inspired event, and I am sure that we, as a Dartmouth community, could learn from the extensive literature written about the Americanization of Cinco de Mayo and its construction as a drinking holiday in the United States, cultural appropriation and the inappropriate usage of cultural clothing, and the exploitation of groups of people and cultures for the sake of business opportunities,” Hernandez said in an email to several Dartmouth organizations, including Greek Letter Organizations and Societies, the Office of Pluralism and Leadership, and Dean Charlotte Johnson.

“As a Mexican-born, United-States-raised, first-generation woman of color, it was sadly unsurprising that a culturally-themed party was seen as a casual venture for such a privileged institution such as Dartmouth,” she added.

When somebody calles herself a "Mexican-born, United-States-raised, first-generation woman of color," you just know you're going to be delighted by the next thing she says, huh? It's tempting to tell her to chill out, it's just a party. But I suspect her outrage is pretty much manufactured, or perhaps because she was raised in the U.S. she doesn't know that Cinco de Mayo ain't that big a deal in Mexico. But she surely knows that there have been huge Ciinco de Mayo celebrations here -- by Latinos and non-Latinos both -- for the last 150 years or so, the largest of them (in the world, actually)  in Los Angeles.

Those two stories are merely irritating. Leave it to Occidental to come up with the truly scary one, at least for male students who might end up charged with sexual assault:

These basic guidelines--the preponderance of evidence standard, severe limitations on discovery, mandating that an accused student can't have an attorney present during proceedings--are, sadly, all too common on today's college campuses. But Occidental's sexual assault policy contains at least one provision that is extreme by any standard. "Under this policy," Occidental's guidelines explain, "'No' always means 'No,' and 'Yes' may not always mean, 'Yes.'"

Consider the ramifications of this assertion. A male Occidental student could obtain verbal (or even, it seems, written) consent from a female Occidental student before commencing sexual intercourse. But that male student could still be found guilty of sexual assault if an Occidental tribunal found--with a 50.01% degree of certainty--that in this instance, "yes" did not mean "yes." This is part of the star-chamber procedures that the Occidental activists were deeming too friendly to the accused-- a policy under which an accuser's "yes" to sex might nonetheless have yielded a finding of sexual assault?

Even in the Orwellian world of college sexual assault tribunals, Occidental's standard is an extraordinary one.

Basically, it means they will find a way to get the accused, whatever the facts. "Yes" means yes except when the woman changes her mind after the fact.