Russlynn Haneefa Ali, Assistant Secretary of Education
NPR rejoices in the occupancy of the Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights by Russlynn Haneefa Ali, a first generation American, raised by a single mother from Trinidad, who is thoroughly committed to a philosophy that holds that inequality of results is immoral and intolerable and requires vigorous correction through an aggressive agenda of coercive federal social engineering.
Russlynn Ali, the youthful, curly-haired assistant secretary of the U.S. Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights, oversees the enforcement of all anti-discrimination laws related to education. With broad jurisdiction that includes admissions and recruitment, student discipline, as well as classroom assignment and grading, she investigates schools and districts nationwide to ensure equitable conduct across race, gender, national origin and disability.
It’s the same perch once occupied in 1982 by conservative Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. But over the past two years Ali, 40, has elevated the office’s work to new heights.
While previous OCR leaders have relied on filed complaints to launch probes, Ali has proactively opened 60 investigations based on the agency’s own research. That’s in addition to nearly 7,000 complaints recorded last year, the most in Education Department history. Of the thousands of cases handled in the first year under the Obama administration, resolution agreements increased by 11 percent. Voluntary resolutions, in which schools made sufficient changes without additional prodding, jumped 32 percent.
“My sense of urgency could not be greater,” Ali says in her raspy voice, punctuating each word with insistent hand motions over her office’s mahogany conference table. “We’re talking about questions of fundamental fairness.”
Ms. Ali describes the 1972 passage the 36-word Title IX amendment as “one of the most effective and profound Civil Rights laws in American History… One of the greatest Civil Rights accomplishments of the last 30 years. ”
“There’s been a great slippage in Title IX… We came so far from 1972 to 1980, then we started slipping. Then we picked back up in the early ’90s, but then by 2000 we started slipping badly… And I made a commitment… I promise you no more slippage. Not while Barack Obama is President of the United States, and not while Arne Duncan is Secretary of Education, and not while Russlynn Ali is the Assistant Secretary of Education.”
The Yale DKE business represents Russlynn Ali’s attempt to revive Title IX aggression on the liberties of Americans and the autonomy of American colleges and universities in the name of radical egalitarianism.
Caroline May, at the Daily Caller, quoted several opinions: those of Doug Lanpher, the executive director of the national DKE organization; Amy Siskind, president and co-founder of the feminist New Agenda; Robert Shipley, senior vice president of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE); and Hans Bader, Counsel for Special Projects at the Competitive Enterprise Institute on the peculiar action of the Yale University Administration in awarding new sanctions (banning the fraternity Delta Kappa Epsilon from the Yale campus for five years) in May in connection with a controversial initiation ritual last October. Despite denials by an obviously mendacious university spokesman, all agreed that Yale was acting in specific response to federal pressure.
So, why is the Federal government’s Department of Education twisting the arm of Mother Yale to beat up on DKE for a frankly sophomoric minor incident?
It seems that DKE was deliberately selected to serve as an example to demonstrate the renewed advance of Title IX federal enforcement, a key element of coercive social engineering fundamental to the strategic agenda of the democrat party’s radical leftwing base.
The complaint about an atmosphere at Yale allegedly hostile to ladies conveniently materialized early last month, from a small group representing in a Yale context the same strategic agenda at precisely the same time when the Obama Administration’s Assistant Secretary of Education for Civil Rights, Russlynn Haneefa Ali, issued a “Dear Colleague” letter to essentially every college and university in the land, declaring a federal witch hunt against “sexual harassment” to be underway, defining sexual harassment in the broadest possible terms to include “verbal, nonverbal, or physical conduct” in any fashion connected with sex which is “unwelcome” to someone or anyone, and asserting that harassing conduct in general may create “a hostile environment” anytime the conduct is deemed “sufficiently serious” as to interfere with some student’s ability to participate in or benefit from the schoolâ€™s program.
Instances of witchcraft presumably would be similarly worthy of federal intervention if someone engaged in verbal, nonverbal, or physical magic unwelcome to the alleged victim which created a hostile environment or interfered with a student’s studies.
Universities are not currently obligated to abjure witchcraft, to hire a particular person to receive complaints from persons claiming to have been hexed, and they are not federally required to conduct judicial inquiries into witchcraft complaints or to entertain spectral evidence, but Russlynn Ali’s Dear Colleague letter did decree that, in cases of sexual harassment, the federal government intends to require an official witch-hunter and an entire set of judicial apparatus and procedures be created, complete with victim counseling and support services. Additionally, universities are going to have to keep elaborate sets of records and keep Big Sister intimately informed about how many witches (Excuse me! sexual harassers) they have caught and punished and all the things they are doing to suppress heresy (Excuse me! sexual harassment).
German fraternity students led the revolution against autocracy in 1848.
The DKE fraternity chant affair has concluded with utterly contemptible behavior by the university, embodying cowardice and extraordinary and astonishingly unbecoming stupidity and violating the university’s own official commitment to freedom of expression.
Yale’s commitment to freedom of expression means that when you agree to matriculate, you join a community where “the provocative, the disturbing, and the unorthodox” must be tolerated. When you encounter people who think differently than you do, you will be expected to honor their free expression, even when what they have to say seems wrong or offensive to you.
No one is entitled to any “atmosphere” free of speech or expression he (or she) does not like. The erection by the political left of a variety of groups claiming, on the basis of historical grievances and ressentiment, special privileges and status is a moral and intellectual abomination.
In this case, a tiny minority of Yale’s most obnoxious and neurotic females, members of a gender comprising a slight majority of humanity, already empowered by Nature with staggering powers of influence and control over members of the opposite gender, particularly during a period of life when the reproductive impulse and any young lady’s powers of personal attraction are at their height, have been persuaded by ideological influences hosted and specially cultivated by Yale to see themselves on the basis of myths, stereotypes, and crude historical misunderstandings as victims, and then encouraged to exploit that status for personal and group power and rewarded for doing exactly that with attention and applause.
“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me” is an ancient article of life wisdom imparted by parents to very young children over many generations. Modern liberal society has retreated in maturity to an intellectual state on the other side of childhood, to a state of infantilism, in which name-calling is inflated into a national issue superseding First Amendment rights and the tradition of free speech in Academia, and is viewed as demanding federal intervention and a coercive university response.
The tradition of academic freedom is based upon a general recognition that the period of the education of young people at university is a special period in which a completely open and unprejudiced approach to inquiry is appropriate and in which students traditionally enjoy special immunities from responsibility and conformity.
College students traditionally mock society’s sacred cows and college students are traditionally expected to let off steam and express high spirits through a variety of outrageous pranks. Only fools and outrageously presumptuous tyrants would ever take expressions made by fraternity pledges undergoing a ritual ordeal as statements accurately representative of real positions or as in any way meaningful at all. The fact that two incidents of fraternity ritual farce have been treated as matters of literal heretical expression and as gravely important transgressions by federal and university officials demonstrates only that both Yale and today’s United States are prey to ideological impulses capable of causing them to lapse readily into totalitarian regimes governed by nincompoops.
With the threat of federal grant money potentially being withheld, you can count on the Yale Administration to jump eagerly through the hoops of political correctness and the Yale Executive Committee confidentiality policy be damned. The Yale Daily News reports the ultimate denouement of last October’s terrible fraternity initiation chant nightmare.
In an email to students and faculty Tuesday afternoon, Yale College Dean Mary Miller informed the University community about the Executive Committeeâ€™s actions concerning the controversial Delta Kappa Epsilon pledge incident Oct. 13. After a full proceeding, Miller said, the Committee found that the Yale DKE chapter had violated the Undergraduate Regulations by threatening and intimidating others that night, when pledges were instructed to chanted phrases such as â€œNo means yes, yes means analâ€ on Old Campus. The Committee also found several DKE brothers had breached the same regulations, resulting in individual penalties.
“Although it is unusual to send a memorandum regarding a particular Executive Committee decision to the Yale community, a wide range of community members have been affected by this incident,” Miller said in the email. “As a result, I have decided to share the Committee’s decisions regarding this case.”
Although Miller revealed that the Committee issued individual sanctions to fraternity members, federal and University privacy policies prevented her from communicating further details about these disciplinary actions, she said. But Miller did disclose that the Committee imposed penalties on the Yale DKE chapter â€” despite its status as an unregistered student organization â€” that prevent it from recruiting new members or holding any events on campus for five years. The sanctions also limit the group’s ability to communicate with the student body and use the Yale name in connection with DKE. …
The Committee has formally asked that the fraternity’s national organization suspend the chapter for five years. After the Old Campus incident, DKEâ€™s national organization promptly directed the Yale chapter to stop all pledge activities, including the initiation of new members. But the ban was lifted in early November, less than one month after it was imposed.
If, after five years, the fraternity has adhered to these measures and registers as an undergraduate organization, the Committee suggests that the Yale College Deanâ€™s Office lift the penalties.
Although the national organization has yet to receive a formal request for suspension from the University, Executive Director of DKE International Douglas Lanpher said the measures detailed in Miller’s e-mail to the Yale community were “excessive” and that the fraternity’s headquarters would want to appeal the decision if possible.
Yesterday, Yale alumni received from Richard Levin, Yale’s smarmy and unctuous current president, the following letter connected with the Title IX Civil Rights complaint made by 16 students and alumni associated with the Yale Womens’ Center.
April 15, 2011
Dear Graduates and Friends of Yale,
As you may know, Yale was recently informed by the Office of Civil Rights of the U.S. Department of Education that it will be investigating a complaint made by a group of current students and graduates alleging that the University is in violation of Title IX of the Higher Education Act. Title IX mandates that no one be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any federally supported education program on the basis of sex. We have not yet received a copy of the complaint, and the notification from the Office of Civil Rights does not provide details. We believe that the investigation will focus on Yaleâ€™s policies and practices concerning sexual harassment and misconduct.
It is imperative that the climate at Yale be free of sexual harassment and misconduct of any kind. The well being of our students and the entire community requires this. Should transgressions occur, they must be addressed expeditiously and appropriately.
We will cooperate fully with the Office of Civil Rights in their investigation, but the Officers, the Dean of Yale College, and I believe that we should not await the investigation before asking ourselves how we might improve the policies, practices, and procedures intended to protect members of our community. I write to describe some of the measures we are taking immediately.
I have appointed an external Advisory Committee on Campus Climate, chaired by Margaret H. Marshall â€˜76JD, the former Chief Justice of the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts and a former Fellow of the Yale Corporation [famous for contriving to have heard, and writing the infamous opinion in, Goodridge v. Dept. of Public Health which produced the ruling that the Commonwealth of Massachusett’s 1780 Constitution, adopted at a time in which sodomy was a capital offense, required Massachusetts to recognize Gay Marriage –JDZ]. The other members of the Committee are Seth P. Waxman â€˜77JD, former Solicitor General of the United States and a partner at WilmerHale LLP; Kimberly Goff-Crews â€˜83BA, â€˜86JD, Vice President for Campus Life and Dean of Students at the University of Chicago; and Elizabeth (Libby) Smiley â€™02BA, former president of the Yale College Council and a director at Barbary Coast Consulting in San Francisco.
I have asked the Committee for advice about how sexual harassment, violence or misconduct may be more effectively combated at Yale, and what additional steps the University might take to create a culture and community in which all of our students are safe and feel well supported. The Committee will spend time listening to members of our community about the situation as they live it and will make its own assessments. We have policies in place, and a number of recommendations developed during the last year are being implemented. Nevertheless, I am confident that there is more that we can do, and I am grateful to the members of the panel for contributing their time and wise counsel.
The Committee will advise me directly, and I will review its recommendations with the Yale Corporation after the report is completed early in the fall semester. After review by the Corporation, the Committeeâ€™s recommendations will be made public.
Even as the Committee does its work, I want to take advantage of the remaining weeks of this semester to ensure that student concerns are heard directly by the senior leadership of the University. I am grateful to the Womenâ€™s Center for initiating this week a series of dinners with students and administrators. Following this lead, I have asked senior administrators to join with masters and deans over a meal in every college dining hall and in Commons in Reading Period, during the days following Spring Fling when classes do not meet, and when I hope students will take the time to engage in a conversation about the campus climate and our policies governing sexual misconduct. These will be informal opportunities to engage with Deans Mary Miller and Marichal Gentry, Provost Peter Salovey, and Vice President Linda Lorimer, along with your master or dean. I have asked the Provost, Vice President, and Deans to report back to me on the suggestions for improvement that they receive and to share what they have learned with the external Committee as well.
I have also asked the Deans of the Graduate and Professional Schools to ensure that similar conversations occur in each school.
The deepest values of our institution compel us to take very seriously the issues raised by the complaint brought to the Office of Civil Rights. We welcome this opportunity to learn from our community and from best practices elsewhere to protect all who study and work here.
Those deepest values being sanctimony, cant, and conformity to fashion.
Glenn Reynolds (another Yale alumnus) observed with justifiable disgust:
[Y]ou used to be able to punish the sort of behavior complained of here on the ground that it violated general principles of decency and acceptable public behavior. But after a half-century or so of attacking even the notion of general principles of decency and acceptable public behavior â€” especially where sex is concerned! â€” that doesnâ€™t work.
Universities have long told the larger culture that it must simply put up with whatever is said, however offensive, in the interest of free expression. Now we see more evidence that that was always a lie, a self-serving cover story that was really meant simply to protect speech that the larger culture didnâ€™t want to hear, with no intention to protect speech that people at universities donâ€™t want to hear. Universities, meanwhile, have become some of the most hostile environments for free speech anywhere in America.
Two years ago, the walls of the Yale Womenâ€™s Center bore paintings of female genitalia.
The artwork, abstract representations board members made of their own vaginas, was meant to welcome visitors to the Womenâ€™s Center, said Isabel Polon â€™11, a former political action coordinator for the center.
â€œWhatâ€™s more inviting than a vagina?â€ she said.
Drawing the loudest outcry are a 2006 episode in which frat pledges chanted, “No means yes! Yes means anal!” in front of the Yale Women’s Center (a refrain they reprised in 2009), and a 2008 stunt in which frat members posed for a photo in front of the center with a sign proclaiming “We love Yale sluts.”
But before you shed a tear for Yale or its feminists, consider the role that both have played in saturating the campus with vulgar sexuality. In an effort to foster “dialogue” and “acceptance” of every possible sexual choice or act, they’ve drenched students, faculty and administrators in images and vocabulary of graphic sexuality.
The Women’s Center has hosted screenings of lesbian pornography, workshops on drag and talks about “sex toys and how to get the most out of them.” In 2006, the event “Who’s on Top” was intended to address lack of “discussion about the act of penetrative sex itself” and to explore feminist Andrea Dworkin’s theory “that intercourse and patriarchy are inseparable.” The center even throws naked parties to boost Yale women’s sense of body image.
These are the shrinking violets shocked that a bunch of frat guys would gather around their front door crassly chanting about sex.
Those chants were disgusting, of course. But when every taboo around sex is systematically eradicated, aren’t cries of “We Love Yale Sluts” inevitable?
Wendy Kaminer comments on the Department of Education’s witch hunt in search of hostile atmosphere creators at Yale.
What accounts for such feminine timidity, this instinctive unwillingness or inability to talk or taunt back, without seeking the protection of university or government bureaucrats? Talking is apparently beside the point. “I just want to be able to walk back to my dorm at night without hearing all this crazy stuff from these guys,” one student complains. I sympathize (I was a young woman once, too), but “hearing crazy stuff” from people in public is part of life in a free society, a society in which you enjoy equal rights to say crazy stuff.
Putatively progressive feminists might agree, if only they regarded women as equal to the task of talking back, if only they distinguished between men who “say stuff” about women and men who “do stuff” to women. In the feminist view reflected in the Yale draft complaint, the misogynist rants of some undergraduate men (perhaps a relatively small percentage of them) is not speech. It’s a series of “dangerous,” “sex-discriminatory threats” that “intimidate” and “terrorize” women, constituting a hostile environment (or “rape culture”) that causes sexual violence.
That simplistic, practically hysterical anti-libertarian approach to offensive speech appears to be shared by the Obama administration. OCR [Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights] has initiated an investigation of alleged civil-rights violations at Yale, and, coincidentally, on April 4th, it issued a “Dear Colleague” letter to schools, colleges, and universities nationwide, clarifying their obligations to prevent and address sexual harassment. OCR’s letter conflates harassment and rape. It defines sexual harassment as “including” sexual violence and ignores the conflicts between sexual harassment regulations and free speech, or, in public schools, the constitutional limits on regulating “offensive” speech. Given OCR’s expansive and potentially repressive approach to punishing and preventing “bullying,” it’s not surprising but still distressing to find no concern for speech in its letter on harassment.
The only nod to civil liberty in OCR’s letter is a reminder that students accused of sexual harassment (including sexual violence) should be accorded due process. Indeed, “(p)ublic and state-supported schools must provide due process to the alleged perpetrator” — but not too much due process, it seems: “However, schools should ensure that steps taken to accord due process rights to the alleged perpetrator do not restrict or unnecessarily delay the Title IX protections for the complainant.” This suggests, oddly and ominously, that the statutory rights of the accuser trump the constitutional due-process rights of the accused.
Generally, the OCR letter displays much more concern for the sensitivities of accusers over the rights of the accused. Schools should, for example, separate complainants and alleged perpetrators while investigations are pending, and in doing so, they should “minimize the burden on the complainant.” Why not also minimize the burden on the alleged perpetrator? The Obama administration, like the administrations of so many colleges and universities, implicitly approaches sexual harassment and sexual violence cases with a presumption of guilt.
Campus investigations and hearings involving harassment or rape charges are notoriously devoid of concern for the rights of students accused; “kangaroo courts” are common, and OCR ‘s letter seems unlikely to remedy them. Students accused of harassment should not be allowed to confront (or directly question) their accusers, according to OCR, because cross-examination of a complainant “may be traumatic or intimidating.” (Again, elevating the feelings of a complainant over the rights of an alleged perpetrator, who may have been falsely accused, reflects a presumption of guilt.) Students may be represented by counsel in disciplinary proceedings, at the discretion of the school, but counsel is not required, even when students risk being found guilty of sexual assaults (felonies pursuant to state penal laws) under permissive standards of proof used in civil cases, standards mandated by OCR.
I don’t know the ages of Obama’s OCR appointees, but they seem to be operating under the influence of the repressive disregard for civil liberty that began taking over American campuses nearly 20 years ago. As FIRE President Greg Lukianoff remarks, students have been “unlearning liberty.” Concern about social equality and the unexamined belief that it requires legal protections for the feelings of presumptively vulnerable or disadvantaged students who are considered incapable of protecting themselves has generated not just obliviousness to liberty but a palpable hostility to it.
The Left simply invokes a simplistic kind of sophistry to re-define speech it doesn’t like as an aggressive act and to transform disapproval and displeasure at oppositional mocking speech into victimization.
“Those DEKE and Zeta Psi initiations dared to ridicule our self-important ideology of victimization, and that created ‘a hostile atmosphere’ preventing us from feeling equal, and that should be a federal offense.”
The claim being made here is arrant nonsense, which any rational adult should recognize immediately, but American society has not been headed by rational adults since at least the 1960s.
ABC News has a short segment on the sexual harassment complaint against Yale.
The ABC reporters fail to remark that 12 complaining feminists (including alumnae), seconded by a small supportive chorus of 4 poofters, do not represent a terribly significant portion of a student population of roughly 12,000 or of an alumni community of a few hundred thousand.
Both the (October, 2010) misogynistic chants so vulgar that prim ABC could not replay them (which went “No means yes. Yes means anal.”) and the (January 2008) “derogatory signs” outside the Yale Women’s Center which were the alleged tipping point that prevented Hannah Zeavin from having “Bright College Years” were fraternity initiation ordeals, inflicted respectively by Delta Kappa Epsilon and Zeta Psi.
Ms. Zeavin clearly tips very slowly, over a period of years, and her Yale education has clearly done little for her skills at hermeneutics. If Ms. Zeavin were a better interpreter of meanings, she would grasp the fact that fraternity initiations are ordeals intended to demonstrate the pledge’s worthiness for admission to membership by his voluntary undergoing humiliation and suffering. The misogynistic chants and sign were, obviously, intended to embarrass and inflict discomfort on the initiates, so one must be awfully dense to interpret them as authentic representations of the political views and moral sentiments of those pledges. If DEKE sent them out chanting, “I’m a conventional, politically correct Ivy League undergraduate who supports Barack Obama,” there would have been no ordeal to it at all.
Hannah Zeavin and her fellows, who chose to make a federal case out of nothing, are either viciously irresponsible and malicious or as dumb as a bag full of hammers. Which is it, womynists?
It is the absence of such public manifestations of protective authority which bother her, it seems. “No one has ever been expelled for rape and there have been 41 years of coeducation.” Zeavin observes. It is, I think, generally known that some authentic rapes have occurred at Yale. Several were committed by intruders from the nearby inner city underclass community. A major explosion of new security measures, locked gates, cameras everywhere, buses to Science Hill, followed. I think I can recall hearing, many years ago, of an authentic rape by one undergraduate of another, but rather than expulsion, I would expect that such an incident would have led to arrest and incarceration. The removal of that kind of offender from society would tend to render his expulsion from Yale beside the point.
The university naturally avoids publicizing attacks and assaults on students, so reliable statistics and detailed factual accounts are unlikely to be readily available to the leaders of Yale feminism.
The final evidence of an intolerably hostile atmosphere for women at Yale was another trivial politically incorrect scandal from 2009, an anonymous email ranking 53 freshmen women in order of attractiveness. Obviously, a federal injunction needs to be issued commanding Yale men to stop making comparative judgments about female Yale undergraduates’ sexual attractiveness, and if Yale men persist and ignore that federal order, Barack Obama can federalize the Connecticut National Guard and send soldiers with rifles and bayonets to stop male students from checking out the available female talent.
Last Wednesday, the Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity annual pledge hazing ritual took the form of open defiance of political correctness. Pledges were required to march across the Old Campus, blindfolded, hands on each other’s shoulders in a human chain, chanting deliberately outrageous expressions of anti-feminist machismo.
Some of the slogans used included: â€œNo means yes, yes means analâ€ and â€œMy name is Jack, Iâ€™m a necrophiliac, I f— dead women.â€
Persons of normal intelligence would realize, of course, that the purpose of such an activity would be to test the courage and commitment of those aspiring to join the fraternity by subjecting them to an ordeal exposing them to personal humiliation and to a certain amount of genuine risk.
Since America and Yale are both presided over today by prigs and nincompoops with less than normal intelligence and overdeveloped faculties of indignation, the risk was clearly a bit greater than the officers of Yale’s DKE chapter had expected.
Deep thinkers in the national media and the Academe, people like Tracy Clark-Flury at Salon, the management of Yale’s Women’s Center, Yale College Dean Mary Miller , and Feminist and Queer Studies Prof Melanie Boyd who doubles as Special Advisor to the Dean of Yale College on Gender Issues, all got their knickers in a twist and began blathering about “hate speech,” “sexism,” and “verbal assault.”
Inevitably, a forum on “Yale’s Sexual Climate” (which I would have guessed would be intensely favorable) was held, allegedly representing “the first step in a long process of dialogue and systemic change.”
An apology was extorted from the fraternity’s president, the international DKE organization suspended the Yale chapter’s pledge activities, and the virago enforcer of political correctness indulged in a few threats.
I wouldnâ€™t say the question of disciplinary action has disappeared from the conversation,â€ [Melanie] Boyd said.
One Yale Daily News commenter found it ironic that DKE was being so thoroughly pilloried for tongue-in-cheek outrageous expressions, while the Yale Women’s Center in complete earnestness has taken the following positions:
# Women who choose to act as stay-at-home moms are traitors to their gender
# Capitalism is anti-feminist
# The United States is the most anti-woman nation in the world
# All hierarchies are by definition patriarchal since hierarchy and structure are masculine constructs
# Post-birth abortion should be legalized (see: Peter Singer)
# There is no biological difference between men and women – it is entirely a social construct
# The overwhelming majority of men at Yale actively and knowingly attempt to oppress women in their everyday lives
# Gendered pronouns (ie: he or she) are relics of a bigoted society.
# Marriage is sexual slavery
# Letting the man pay on a date is tantamount to prostitution
# Directed Studies is an attempt to defend the patriarchy
# Women who vote Republican are brainwashed
# Religion was designed to oppress women
# Condoms are patriarchal since they put men in control of safe sex
# Condoms are feminist since they let women avoid pregnancy
# Men should be required to submit their DNA to a database upon entering college, since 1 in 4 women is raped in college.