I am outraged about the offensive message directed toward women that was visible for a time on 43rd Street. Our students, campus community and alumni have been offended.On one level, we can respond to this as just another atrocity by the Thought Police, which appears to be how Robby Soave takes it at Reason.
While we constantly educate students, faculty and staff about sexual assault and sexual harassment, this incident confirms our collective efforts are still failing to register with some.
Some frat brothers are eager to have sex with girls—is this surprising? Have universities become so squeamish that students confessing their desire for sex are guilty of some kind of crime? The banners are suggestive and classless, but they’re not obscene.Or perhaps it's an opportunity, as Insta Pundit suggests, either to make a federal case out of it, or to heighten the contradictions.
Associating the banners with sexual assault, as Broderick did in his statement, is a considerable exaggeration. Sigma Nu members certainly didn’t threaten anyone with sexual assault; putting up some mildly suggestive signs does not constitute an act of violence. The banners don’t even clear the sexual harassment bar. They aren’t severe, pervasive, objectively offensive, or directed at anyone in particular.
My advice to these fraternity guys: (1) Immediately complain to the Department of Education and the Department of Justice that you’re being targeted because of your race and sex, and denied your First Amendment rights. No, nothing will come of this, but that’s not the point. The process is the punishment. (2) Sue on the same grounds. (3) The real killer: Go to the Virginia Legislature and tell them they should cut Old Dominion’s budget. Come prepared with figures on the number of administrators on campus now, versus 10 and 20 years ago. File freedom of information requests and get the travel expense figures for the folks in the administration. Look over them for suspicious and large expenditures. (You’ll find them!) Make a big stink about those.That second paragraph reinforces the idea that higher education has broken the social contract with the states that fund it, or perhaps aligned itself too closely with a failing political ideology, both of which have merit.
Administrative bloat leads to large numbers of “student life” educrats without enough to do, so they’ve created a quasi-police-state to fill the time. State legislators are looking for things to cut anyway, and higher ed doesn’t have the clout it used to have. This will hurt them more than anything else you can do.
Or perhaps, as Adam Steinbaugh of Popehat suggests, in reacting, the university overdoes it.
Moreover, at the end of the day, requiring the removal of offensive banners won't change the underlying behavior. It just makes it less likely that people will know who these guys are.Perhaps, although the simpler explanation might be that the only way for frat boys to subvert the dominant paradigm is to deliberately do something that's seriously over the top. (That's two plot events in Animal House.)
Rather, if Old Dominion is to regulate isolated incidents of speech, it would be better to force these guys to leave the banners up, so everyone recognizes these idiots for who they are. Remove all doubt.
Once upon a time, that was just a brand of motor oil. The sign is so over-the-top in-your-face these days that even a weblogger with Unionist sympathies might find a place for one in the garage. Perhaps that's what Sigma Nu had to do, come up with the most aggressive way of saying no to the prevailing ethos. Dr. Helen seems to be capturing that spirit.
If women and white knight university presidents are too fragile for this type of prank, they should have their own free standing universities (asylums) where they can live in a bubble filled with other people just like them filled with unicorns and butterflies. These people are idiots and the frat guys are freedom fighters. Fight the good fight and stand up for free speech, even if it is offensive.Might be even simpler than that: the Perpetually Aggrieved are so easily goaded that baiting them into such overreaction is sport. It's not, Mr Broderick, that your indoctrination failed to register. It's that your indoctrination is so over-the-top silly that the only sane response is over-the-top mockery.