Preventing Sexual Assault on Campus


Preventing Sexual Assault on Campus

Good Evening and Welcome to the Forum I’m Suzanne Goldberg
executive vice president for university life, and I
could not be more delighted to welcome you all this
evening for what will be a fantastic conversation in health and the launch of “Sexual Citizens: A Landmark Study of Sex,
Power and Assault on Campus”. To help introduce our discussion tonight, I want to bring you back to where we were on these issues in 2014. I suspect some of you might remember and might have even been a part of some of the work going on in these issues. On our campus and nationally, students were vigorously
protesting and engaging and calling more attention to the issue of sexual
assault on campuses here and around, at colleges and
universities around the country. Media reports were amplifying
that concern regularly. The Obama administration
was very focused on this issue as well through
the Department of Education with the introduction of
new policies and procedures for schools to address
sexual assault complaints, and also on the prevention side with the introduction of It’s On Us, a national prevention effort
to engage students around the country in addressing these issues. During the summer of 2014, as I became President
Bollinger’s special advisor on sexual assault prevention and response, and we were working as a university, on enhancing our
resources and our policies to support students and
address these issues, it felt urgent to me, and
to many of my colleagues who I was working with,
to understand really, truly and deeply what was
happening at Columbia, what was going on inside of our community. That knowledge I felt
sure, as did colleagues, would enable us to
tailor prevention efforts to our community, to
the diverse student body and the diverse student
communities on our campus. When I mentioned this issue,
this interest in mapping the problem at a meeting of the Women’s Gender and
Sexuality Studies Council, I had a good fortune to be
sitting near Dr. Jennifer Hirsch who came over to me right afterwards and said, “I want to do this.” So with lightning speed, Jennifer Hirsch, together with Dr. Claude Ann Mellins, came back with a proposal. And together, they, with
an extraordinary team of colleagues, launched the
Sexual Health Initiative to Foster Transformation, or
SHIFT, as it became known, a truly cutting-edge
and transformative study to think about sexual assault
on campuses in a new way, cutting at many different levels and layers of what
influences the environment in which sexual assault can occur, but also what supports sexual health and broader well-being
of our student body. You’ll hear much more
about this from Jennifer and Dr. Shamus Kahn in a few moments about their tremendous work, “Sexual Citizens”, that
comes out of the research. As you listen to the discussion, I want to offer you two points to keep in mind about
Columbia’s relationship to SHIFT and the research here. First, the SHIFT research
shines a light on one of the most incredible things
about this university. At Columbia, we have. Long standing deeply challenging Managing complicated problems, and bring all of the
resources we have to bear. An incredible faculty from so
many different disciplines, dedicated staff who are leading
these services on campus, and our students who contribute the ideas and the experiences that are essential to understanding this problem more deeply. That’s what happened here, right? We do this on a range of issues, but what we rarely do, as a
university, is study ourselves. And this was an opportunity to do that, and in doing that, to create knowledge that could benefit our much, much broader community
in higher education. And there I would add,
this is the second point, that SHIFT’s research has already had a significant impact on the
work we do here at Columbia and will have that impact
for many years to come. It impacts the way that we think about the work we do to support
our student body both with respect to the
issue of sexual assault, and more generally sexual health, and with the issue of community building. What are we, who are we
as a university community? What does it mean to be a
university community citizen? This work exemplifies one of the things that I think is best
about academic research. When it takes a problem, looks at the problem from
many different dimensions, produces knowledge, as we like to say, and contributes to the
discussions that scholars have, digging deep into the issues,
and, at the same time, translates that knowledge
for use on the ground and use in a community. And that’s exactly what the
SHIFT research has done. And what it means for us is that all of us who work with students
and who are committed to higher education can
take the lessons from SHIFT and use them and continue
to learn from them and take advantage of them in all we do. Indeed, last spring when SHIFT announced, the SHIFT researchers issued
their report on their research, we hosted the first ever
university-wide convening and conversation that included students, faculty and staff from
throughout Columbia, and leaders of our campus
services that provide support, as well as the researchers,
to get together, put our heads together and think how can we take this knowledge,
take this tremendous work and turn it into continuous
action for our community and for communities around the country? I have to add, on a personal level, that I am deeply grateful
to Jennifer Hirsch and to Claude Ann Mellins who
launched the SHIFT project and worked, somehow found the
48 hours in every 24-hour day to move this project forward, to Shamus Kahn and to
the entire SHIFT team, many of whom I know are here tonight to contribute of not just their work days, but their work nights
and their work weekends to make this all possible. We could not be more
proud, as a university, of what they have accomplished and what they’re
contributing to all of us. So when we think back
to 2014 and early 2015 and ask ourselves what did we do in the face of great need
to give more attention to the issue of campus sexual assault? I think we can fairly say
that while much work remains, we have brought our collective resources to bear on this challenging problem, and thanks to the colleagues
here and many in the room, and many across the country, we are continuing to help
change this landscape. So before turning to
our esteemed moderator and authors that want to offer just a few brief acknowledgments,
first, I really want to recognize Columbia
University’s president, Lee Bollinger, for his unwavering support and his office’s generous
funding of SHIFT’s research. I want to thank our many
partners across the university who contributed their time, their energy, their resources, their thinking, to the work of this project. I want to recognize
the generous support of the Levine family for SHIFT’s research. I want to acknowledge too
the tremendous partnership of faculty and staff from
across the university. These kinds of issues
require so many of us to get together and think
and give time and energy, and that is exactly what
so many colleagues did. And very importantly, I
want to thank the students who contributed their
thoughts, their experiences, deeply personal, and their ideas to what became this project, and to the students who continue to work with University Life,
with Sexual Violence Response, with all parts of Columbia Health and with so many other parts of Columbia to address these problems
in a meaningful way, day, after day, after day. So it is my pleasure now to introduce your conversation partners for this evening’s discussion, moderator, Dr. Jennifer Ashton and the co-authors of “Sexual Citizens: A Landmark Study of Sex
Power and Assault on Campus”, Jennifer Hirsch and Shamus Khan. So Jennifer, I guess
maybe you should come up, that seems like a good idea
while I’m introducing you. (cheering and applauding) Jennifer Hirsch is a professor
of socio-medical sciences at Columbia’s Mailman
School of Public Health, a graduate of Trinity School,
Princeton and Johns Hopkins, and a 2012 Guggenheim Fellow. Jennifer co-directed Columbia’s
Sexual Health Initiative to Foster Transformation
with Claude Ann Mellins, and co-led the SHIFT
ethnography with Shamus Khan. Shamus Khan is a professor and chair of the department of sociology at Columbia, and co-director of this
ethnographic team for the SHIFT research. Our panel moderator,
who we’re very grateful to have here tonight, Dr. Jennifer Ashton, will be familiar to many of you as she is the chief medical
correspondent for ABC News. And we are especially
grateful to have her here with us tonight given that there is some medical news happening out in the rest of the world too. Dr. Ashton is a graduate
of Columbia College and Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons, and she has a master’s of
science degree in nutrition from Columbia’s Institute
of human nutrition. She reports health and medical news on a daily basis for shows
like Good Morning America, World News Tonight and Nightline. She also actively treats patients as a board-certified OB-GYN
in her New Jersey office. And somehow, in her spare time, she is an author of five books, including “Life After
Suicide: Finding Courage, Comfort and Community
After Unthinkable Loss”, and her most recent work, a
newly national bestseller, “The Self-Care Solution: A
Year of Becoming Happier, Healthier and Fitter
One Moment at a Time”. Excuse me, “One Month at a Time”. (laughing) Moment and month’s both. Before turning over to Dr.
Ashton, I also want to recognize that the discussion
tonight involves issues that are sensitive and
sometimes very painful, and sometimes very personal
for many in the room. Feel free, if you would like at any point, to step out of the room. We do have colleagues here
from sexual violence response who are available just
outside the auditorium and will be glad to talk
with you confidentially, and as the students in the room know, you also have 24/7 access to Sexual Violence Response’s helpline by calling 212854-health. Columbia’s title nine
coordinator, Margie Fisher, is also in the room in the back and she’ll be available to talk with you about any questions as well. With that and with my thanks
again and congratulations again to the authors and my thanks again to Dr. Ashton for being here, and thanks to all of you
for joining us tonight, I turn it over to you. (applauding) – Thank you so much for
that warm introduction and incredibly warm reception back. Welcome, to all of you, and thank you for spending
some time with us tonight. I think this is going to
be an incredibly important, interesting and exciting evening. For me personally, it’s
very. With my allegiance to Columbia I like to say I bleed blue. But the title that is
perhaps most important, that was omitted in the boring list of what I’ve been busy with
since I graduated here is that I am the mother of a
Columbia College senior, Alex, who’s here tonight. (clapping) And so I will soon be crying
at his graduation, I’m sure. Before we get to Shamus and
Jen, I wanted to share with you, just very, very briefly,
why it was so important to me to be here and why it means so much to me to help you launch
your national tour of this incredible book. You know about my professional,
kind of, hats that I wear. You know that I’m a
mother of, not just one, but two, college students. But also as a gynecologist,
I have seen, unfortunately, many, many patients over my 15-year career in clinical practice
affected by sexual assault. And I think that this is
really a seminal work. I hope and believe that it will
not only open people’s eyes to this issue and bring this subject from being whispered about
to being openly talked about, but I really do think that
this book can save lives and change lives. So I really feel incredibly
privileged to be a part of it. With that I want to share
some very good news, breaking news, if you will, as we like to say in
the news-media business. Just today, Science Magazine has put out an incredible review of “Sexual Citizens” and described it as, wait,
(clapping) just wait, it gets better, “A
profoundly eye-opening book. “Hirsch and Khan present a novel model “for explaining and responding
to campus sexual assault.” This is just the tip of the iceberg with how I know this book
has already been received and will continue to be received. So Jen and Shamus, I would like
you to start by just giving, kind of, five minutes each, if you can, your elevator pitch on the book. Because, obviously, I know most of the people here have not yet read it. And Jen, why don’t you kick us off? – So first, thank you so much and thank you to Suzanne for
that wonderful introduction. Any book this big, which comes
out of a much bigger project, there were a lot of people
involved along the way. And so before we give
you our elevator pitch, we want to start just by
sharing our gratitude. I’m related to half the
people in this book. (laughing) So it’s nice to have all of you here. But a huge thanks to Claude
Ann Mellins for being such a terrific partner. (applauding) (Jennifer mumbling) She matched me, worry for worry. To Suzanne, as we already said, and to the office of the president, which was extraordinarily generous, not just with supporting SHIFT, but also for planning
this incredible event. – Norton, which published the book, our editor John Glusman
and the entire team there. And then, as Suzanne
suggested, the book represents, sort of, our interpretation
of a portion of the SHIFT data but
there was a massive team that worked on this. And so, in the audience
right now there are a bunch of people from that research team, as well as a group of students who are what we called our UAB
Undergraduate Advisory Board, who met with us Monday morning every week for two years from eight
’til 10 in the morning. So just imagine being part of that group. – They need a round of applause. – Yeah, well, could you stand? (applauding)
I would love it if people, part of the team that are
here, do you mind standing up? Researchers, UAB institutional advisors. – Don’t be shy.
– There’s like a lot of you here, I know.
(woman mumbling) (applauding) Thank you. (laughs) A special thanks, you
know, a project this big is so complicated and
it’s only gonna be as good as it is managed and Lee Reardon was just unbelievable in helping
get us all to do our work. And then finally to the students. We spent time interviewing
over 150 students. We were hanging out in, well, we weren’t hanging out
in fraternity basements, but some of our research
team were hanging out in fraternity basements, on sports fields, on intramural athletic
teams, in the dining halls, all kinds of spaces
throughout campus life. And for those students
who shared their stories and their lives with us, this book really wouldn’t
have been possible without it and we hope that it does justice to what it is that they told us. Our elevator pitch.
– So, that was, okay. – Okay.
– So sorry to be unruly, but we just, you know? So as I was observing the national conversation
around campus sexual assault, it felt to me like there
was a piece missing. I’m in public health and what we do, if we do our job well, you
never hear from us, right? Everyone is healthy. And so it seemed to me that there was a piece missing in the conversation. There was a lot of focus on adjudication, which is important,
and there was, sort of, the notion that if we could stop the sociopathic predators, then
there wouldn’t be a problem. And I thought actually, let’s go upstream. Let’s stop working one penis at a time. Let’s prevent this before it happens. And so that was the beginning
of my pitch to Suzanne. I said if we understood
where the problem came from, we could do more. – Love it. – And then I think the
second part of it was, once we had this, sort of, vision, or Jennifer had this vision
and pulled this team together, we began to think about
prevention along lots of different dimensions. So often when we think
about sexual assault, we think about it as something that’s totally separate
from sex, for example. And we began to explore the ways in which the organization of everyday
sex on college campuses and beyond may actually be part of what’s producing sexual assault. And so we decided to put
sexual assault into dialogue with the broader context
of people’s everyday lives and the ways in which
they live their lives, in order to identify ways in
which we could help prevent it. – So part of, by the
way, I should have kind of started with a disclaimer that because, not only of this subject matter, but because of my medical
specialty of OB-GYN, you are probably going to hear
words like penis and vagina. But my objective in this, as it always is, is we might laugh, cry, learn, and unless you can have
these conversations openly, you really can’t move the needle. I remember when my daughter
was in, I think, first grade, and my mother who was a nurse
and also a Columbia alum, came to me one day and said, “I think there’s a problem with Chloe “and the language she’s using.” I said, “What kind of a problem?” And she said, “I mean, she’s
using the word vagina.” Although she couldn’t say vagina
so she would say bus-gina. (laughing)
Don’t ask why. And I said, “Well, that’s great, Mom, “because her mother is a gynecologist. “So I would hope she’s
using the right word “because there are a slew of other words “that might be a little less ideal.” So you might hear some of those words and I think that that’s appropriate. One of the things that struck me, the book is so well-written, by the way. It doesn’t feel like you’re reading a big academic dissertation. It really feels like you’re
reading an important novel. It gets into sex in the
college sphere by, first, kind of doing an assessment
of college life in general. Explain why that was an
important starting point. – The kind of research that we did, which is called ethnography, where you spend time
directly with students. So we had a team, as Shamus said, spending time with students. And the book pulls back
the curtain for all of you who are parents and sort of wonder what your children’s
lives are like at college. The book pulls back the
lives on what it’s like to be a college student. Sex is not a cognitive behavior,
it’s not a health behavior, it’s a social behavior. And so you can’t understand
what people are trying to do when they’re having
sex without understanding the world that they’re navigating through. – And Shamus, what surprised
you just in taking, kind of, the scan of college life now, before you got into sexual
activity and sexual behavior, what was one of the things
that really jumped out to you about how college life is now? – I think one of the most, Jennifer and I are in college
classrooms all the time. I usually teach a pretty
big lecture course and so I have a lot of
interaction with students. But I think I was sort of overwhelmed by empathy for their lives and what they go through
on a day-to-day basis. And if we, sort of, pay attention to the national rhetoric right
now about college students, it’s that they’re snowflakes
and they complain about the little smallest things. And I have to say, the
portrait that we saw of college students were
people who were really, I’d say like they’re full
people who are facing a lot of challenging things. We tell a story in the book of a young man whose parents
were undocumented, he identified as gay and he didn’t feel comfortable going home. And so he spent the
winter break sleeping on the subway during the day
and, I mean, I’m sorry, sleeping in rooms here at Columbia and all around New York
City during the day, and then riding the subway at night because that was how he found a way to sort of live over the winter break. And you can’t listen to a story like that and think ah, you know,
these college students, they’re just like complaining
about these minor things. I think that their strength and their humanity really came forward to me as we did more
and more of this work. – Jen, I know you have two in
college also, right, as do I. – One actually at home in his room. – Oh. (laughing) – But he’s about to go to college. – They let you out? (laughing) Back to the room, no. (laughing) I was, as a parent, was
really taken aback by a lot of the anecdotes that
are shared in this book. Some of it is hard to read. Obviously, as a parent, and
I shared with you backstage, as a gynecologist, as someone who deals with sexual assault medically, I think that we’re a great
audience for this book, parents are a great audience, but I also hope that my
children in college read this. Who was your audience when you wrote it? – Everyone who reads. (laughing) I mean, and I think that we’re trying to- – Everyone with a penis,
everyone with a vagina? – That’s right, everyone
with any kind of parts. – That’s right, go ahead. – We’re not in the binary. So I think we have different things that we want to do with
different audiences. So for parents, I think we want to say to them this is what
your children are living. And so you need to hold them with empathy and without judgment and, instead of telling them what to do, you need to make space
for them to talk with you and figure out what their
values are around these things. And for young people, it’s been so moving to us how many of our
early readers have said I saw myself in your pages,
like that you told my story. So I think that by
helping people feel seen, they know they’re not alone. And I think that figuring out the values questions around sex, kids shouldn’t have to
do that on their own. – You share, of course,
many anecdotes in the book that really get us into
sexual citizenship. And I love that terminology because it really broadens it
beyond sexual assault. And I love how you get into
that too, what sex means, the currency in which it is given today, especially in this age group. But you share a story
of a young woman who, I’m sure you remember, it was
about giving a blowjob just so that she could get out
of a certain situation. Can you share that with the group if– – I mean, actually, the story we tell in the book is one story, but this was a story we
heard on multiple occasions. And it was a story that
sort of opened up our view to assault but things that
maybe weren’t assault but that were a real problem with the way in which sex was organized in our community, and really, more broadly, in our nation. And this is a context where a young man and a young woman were together in a room. She didn’t really want to be there anymore and she was kind of just not feeling it and she didn’t know how to extricate herself from the situation. And so she said to us,
“Well, I just gave him “a blowjob so I could get out of there.” And this experience to us represented just a fundamental failure of what we call the sexual citizenship of two
people, not just that woman, but also that young man. And by sexual citizenship, what we mean is that people have an
understanding that they have the right to say yes to sex and the right to say no to sex, and that the person that they’re with has the same rights. And for us, the failure of that young man’s sexual citizenship is that he kind of just asked
himself what he wanted and not what the person
he was with wanted. And men, we found, are
often pretty attentive to their own wants and not very attentive to the wants of the
people that they’re with. And that, from our perspective, is a failure of sexual citizenship. And this woman, and
actually these many women that we talked to, we thought to ourselves like here’s someone who has, sort of, triumph in so many areas
of her life, and yet, the communities around her, her parents, religious organizations,
schools, had really failed her, because to her the best option was not to say you know what, I don’t
really want to be here anymore or you know what, I’m
tired, I’m going to go home, but instead, to perform oral sex to sort of like complete the
encounter so she could go home. – But whose primarily
responsible for that failure? Is it the parents, is it the society, is it the peer group, is it media, pop culture or all of the above? – So it’s all of the
above but I think that the people that we would most like to hold responsible are
families and schools because those are two
institutions that are changeable. Families, schools and
religious organizations. So we don’t want to point
the finger at the girl and the boy and say be sexual citizens. We want to point the finger at parents and say raise sexual citizens. And at schools and say you can’t give kids a message that sex is a
dirty rotten nasty thing that you should only do to someone you love
after you’re married and, by the way, you might die, and then expect them to somehow
transition into being able to have sex in a way that is pleasurable and respectful and kind. – So I want to share a, sorry, Alex, but you probably had to
know that, by coming, there was going to be at least
one personal anecdote shared. You’re amongst friends and family so… (laughing) – My son is like, right? – You’re up next. (laughing) So you talk about families and schools. When Alex was in middle school, at an independent school in the area, I picked him up from
school one day and I knew that they were taking
reproductive health in school, which, as a gynecologist, you can imagine I have quite
a field day with because the overall health literacy is pathetic. So obviously those two areas
are not really meeting a mark. And I said, “Alex, tell me what
you’re learning in sex ed?” You know, we used to call it
sex ed, reproductive health, and he said, (sighs) “Well,
you know, they told me “that we should hold the
door open for a girl.” (laughing) I said, “Good one, okay, no, really, “what are they teaching you?” And he goes, “That’s what
they’re teaching us.” I said oh, no, no, no. “What about condoms, are
you learning about that?” And he said, “Don’t worry, Mom, “they tell us how to use a
condom, I know all about it.” And I said, “Well, we’re gonna go over it “because let me tell you something, “every year a patient
strolls into my office “and I have to retrieve
a condom that falls off. “I don’t know how the guy
doesn’t realize it’s fallen off “but somehow that happens and,
because I am a gynecologist, “it would be very embarrassing
to me if that happened.” So we are going to go over it. I told you Alex Sorry, but you talk about
what’s being taught in schools and what’s being taught at home. And it’s 2020 and we
have students at Columbia from all over the world bringing in a variety of different
perspectives and societal views and cultural views and
it’s really not advancing. Why do you think that is? – Well, I mean, Alex probably
had some of the best sex ed. (groaning)
I mean, the students that we
spoke to sort of joked that their sex ed was a
sexual diseases course or all about terror, risk, fear, what the likelihood of
pregnancy, et cetera. Often very biological. So these are fallopian tubes,
here’s how they’re connected to different parts of the body. And an analogy we used in the book, we say like this is like teaching somebody to drive by instructing
them about spark plugs. Like it’s not that helpful. (laughing) And you need to sort of
move yourself down the road. And so for us, comprehensive
sexual education is really a central thing that needs
to be done with families, communities and schools, that
actually takes sex seriously. And the holding the door, you should hold the door for everyone. – I agree. – It doesn’t need to be gendered– – And he does, he does, Shamus, he does. – And if you’re a man,
you shouldn’t freak out if somebody holds the door for you. It’s not gonna emasculate you in any way. But there is something
to an education where, I think, that part of that education is the values of education about
how you treat other people. And part of the idea of
sexual citizenship is not just that you have the right
to say yes or to say no, but that you treat the other
person that you’re acting with like they’re a human
being, not a sex toy. – Right. – But sex ed has to do that,
it has to do a lot more but that’s part of what it is. – And they have to do
a better job, for sure. Jen, the book is centered
around these three big ideas of sexual citizenship, sexual projects and sexual geographies. This is really the lens
through which you then kind of try to decipher and make sense, figure out sexual assault. You mention three big
take homes from the book. What are they? Can you go through them for us? – Are you gonna quiz me? – I’ll give you a hint,
first syllable, no. It’s prevention, power,
which I found interesting, and the fact that we
all have responsibility to help reduce the
chances of sexual assault. But start in reverse, if
you will, start with power. ‘Cause I was the most surprised by that, first of all, in the title, but also in the content
and the material of the book and your research. – So you can’t prevent sexual assault without thinking about power. But we need to think about
it in a more complicated and thorough way. So I’ll tell you a story, Lucy and Scott, obviously,
these are all pseudonyms. Lucy was a freshman and so she had gone to a sheltered boarding
school, she was excited to sort of start her
life in college socially. She met Scott in a bar, orientation week. They wandered drunkenly
up Amsterdam Avenue and eventually he escorted
her into his fraternity, he brought her upstairs to his room. He started to take off her pants. Up until that point, she had felt like she was living her dream. Her life was about to start in college. He took off her pants and she told him to stop and he said, “It’s
okay”, and then he raped her. And it wasn’t okay, like not in any way. And so you can see that as an interaction that’s about gender, because he’s man and she was a woman.
– Sure. – But he was four years older than she was and he was in a space that he controlled and he was not as drunk as she was. And there were so many
different forms of power. And the most generous interpretation that we could give of
that story thinking about, because we heard the story
from her, not from him, is that he was not aware of
those other forms of power that he thought his job, as a man, was to move the ball down the field and that he didn’t
understand what it was like to be four years younger,
overwhelmed by somebody who is bigger and in
control and in a space that he is in charge of. So that’s power. Thinking about the complexity of power, thinking about power in relation to race. Every single black woman
who we spoke with in the ethnography had experienced
unwanted sexual touching, every single one. So that suggests that, if you’re thinking about
sexual assault prevention, you have to also think
about racial justice. So that’s a whole other dimension of power that we want to bring
into the conversation. – What about, just to jump
ahead, when I got this book, I literally went flipping
through in search, specifically, of your chapter or the section on assault amongst members of the LGBTQ community. We never hear about that and if we do, it’s usually a heterosexual assault. I’m wondering if you could
explain a little bit, Shamus, what was surprising to
you in your research for students who identify and
in that particular community, and what do you think does
not get spoken about enough, in particular, with the LGBTQ assault? – So in the survey that Claude Mellins ran and one of the main findings
was that LGBTQ students had the highest rates of sexual assault. And this is sort of consistent with results from many other surveys, nationally, in other college contexts. And this highlights that
there might be something about the experience of these students that requires particular
attention and that requires us to think about how we’re failing them. And there were a few
things that we identified. So Jennifer and I are social scientists who sort of, things
are always complicated. And so one of the things that we noticed that the LGBTQ community
is not a community that all experiences the same thing, they actually experience
many different things. So the experiences of bisexual
women is very different than the experiences of women
who identify as lesbian, which is different than
queer-identified people or people who have
different gender identities. Still, with that in mind, I
think there were two things that we really saw that were important. The first was that every
single LGBTQ student that we talked to said that the sex ed that they received formally and informally was completely irrelevant to their lives. And so the failure for us to talk with young people about
sex and sexuality in ways that are relevant to LGBTQ
students is really important. And we need to realize that
many of those young people, when they’re having
sex ed, don’t identify, in any particular way, at the moment that they’re having that sex ed and so we can’t predict who we’re failing. But they don’t feel like they have, they’re not really taught
how to have a sexual voice in a way that feels comfortable to them, that they’ve practiced, that
they’ve sort of spoken through. And if we want young people to be able to express their sexual desires, one of the things that
we can not do is make those desires something that
are inherently shameful, or something that, when
it comes to alcohol, as one young person told us, “Alcohol was like Novocaine for me.” It helped them have sex. Being drunk was really helpful because they didn’t
have to think about it. And that’s about sexual shame that those young people are
experiencing, in large part, because of the communities
that they’ve been raised in. – So I want to then follow
that with this concept, you have a whole chapter
called What is Sex For? And I was really fascinated
by that chapter because, as a parent, as a gynecologist
who talks about sex with every patient I see, in this age group where most of us know the frontal lobe is not
developed in some people, ever. (laughing) Oh sorry, did I say that? (laughing) But especially not, you
mentioned that story of the freshmen with the senior, there is a massive difference
between an 18-year-old and a 22-year-old, and
there’s a difference between a 22-year-old and a 25 or 26-year-old, but it’s almost like we’re trying to enforce or expect much
more mature behavior in a behavior like sex
which is already loaded and charged and starting
behind the eight ball in a group that doesn’t
even have the maturity or experience or life lessons, really, to behave in that way
in other spheres, right? So your chapter, What is Sex For?, I found particularly
interesting and compelling because it sets the
landscape for how we view sex in general as a society,
and in particular, how sex is viewed on the college campus. And the sentence that I
thought really tease it up and then I’d like you
to comment on it, Jen, if you can, starts the paragraph, “But underlying the
diversity of encounters “are five sexual projects, “being a skilled sexual
partner, seeking pleasure, “connecting with another
person emotionally, “defining oneself and impressing others, “all while managing a complex set “of social opportunities and risks.” That really says it all, doesn’t it? – You’ve got the topic
sentence, I love that. (laughing) Right, I mean how, if you could just pick a couple of those points. I mean, I know that they
could each be an hour, explain how they could each bring a set of unique challenges
to this age group and on college campuses
why this is so difficult. I know, again, sorry, Alex,
but as a parent of both a son and a daughter, I really, even without the professional training and education to advise a
young man as well as I could a young woman, I still had
it in the front of my mind that yes, I want my son to be a respectful and generous lover, I want
him to find pleasure in sex but I want him to treat others the same way he would want to be treated. So a lot of that was informed
by my career as a doctor. But when I read it in this paragraph, it really seems like a
massive Herculean task. – So, I mean, I will
just take one of those which is being good at sex. We were so struck by the level of anxiety that young people have
about being bad at sex. But many of them failed to capture that it’s a partner-specific behavior. So they practice it like in
the same way they drill for the SAT or there was one woman who, (laughing) she wanted to get good at
sex and so she hooked up with random people she met on
Tinder throughout high school. And she described herself, in retrospect, as lucky that something
terrible didn’t happen. She said if a guy sent her
a dick pic, that was a no, but they had to have grammatically
correct communication and no dick pics, and that
was sort of the filtering. (laughing) And she just wanted to practice having sex with all of these random
people to get good at it. She didn’t ever occur to her that it was about anything other
than like tab A and slot B. And many students said, “I
just didn’t want to be bad.” And so I think that that’s,
again, we have failed them. We have not given them a values context to think about what sex means and what it would mean to
actually be good at sex. And then I think the other
thing is getting it over with. So there were this sort of freshman year, like oh, you’re a
virgin, I’m a virgin too, lets just have sex so we get it over with. So that was also a thing. Just sort of get on the other
side and students described to us some really heartbreakingly
awful experiences. – Shamus, were you gonna? – Yeah, I think this was
my favorite question on the interview schedule. So when we were asking people questions. And it was like an utter
failure as a question. So we kept asking like what is sex for, what is sex for, and like
nobody could answer it. And I think part of the project of the book was coming up with
an answer to that question and realizing that sex
is for lots of things. I mean, it’s for pleasure, it’s often to sustain relationships, it’s to increase the status
of the group that you’re in or your status within
the group that you’re in. And so sex can be part of status projects. And what this highlighted to us was that it’s really unlikely
that we’re gonna find a vaccine for sexual assault, that there’s gonna be sort of one thing that we can give everyone
and just inoculate them. But there are lots of reasons
why people are having sex and that those different
reasons often produce risks for sexual assault. If you think about the
sex that you’re having as increasing your status within a group. Because other people are
gonna be like oh wow, he’s really hot so you
must be pretty hot too because you just had sex
with somebody really hot, that is going to, you know,
– Yeah. – and that’s actually, there
are a lot of stories in the book that actually
tell that exact example a little bit more fleshed out. Then when you’re having
sex with that person, like you’re not having
sex with that person, you’re having sex with
a hot object in order to increase your own status relative to other people in the world. And we try not to be too judgy about what a good sexual project is, but we do think that if we don’t take seriously
the ways in which sex is a behavior that isn’t just about pleasure but it can also be about status, we’re not gonna be able to think through the ways in which we might address those status projects of sex in such ways that they’re less likely
to produce sexual assault. – How much of the responses
that you got from students, in some way, drew on their upbringing and some kind of interaction, either implicit or
explicit, that they had had with their parents
before coming to college? – A lot, I mean, I think
that the parents are part of what produces people with a robust feeling of
sexual citizenship or not. So the young woman whose mother told her if you’re gonna get birth control, I’m not gonna judge you but I
don’t want to talk about it, that’s very different than the young woman who grew up watching
Girls with her parents. And so she, the latter one,
was assaulted early in her time at school but she knew that
she could talk to her mom. She felt like she was
disappointing her mom by telling her that story but she knew that they would be there for her. So I think they should that
they had helped her develop the resilience to face
other people’s bad behavior. – What advice would you give to students if you were redoing the
curriculum for the whole country, which I hope you both do,
not to give you more work. But what advice would you give to parents, we’ll start with students. What advice would you give to students, ’cause coming to college with how to talk to their parents about
their sexual behavior? – Do you wanna take this
one or do you wanna? I mean, I’ll take it. I thought the parents, well.
– Yeah. – So the thing about college
is really quite late for this. The survey team, their work showed, and this is fairly consistent with lots of other surveys on this that one of the strongest predictors of
experiencing assault in college is experiencing assault in high school. And these conversations have to start early. And you know, college is a booster, it’s not the first time that
you have this conversation. And I think for young people, if their parents aren’t
comfortable talking with them about it, they
might explore other options. There are other adults in their life who may be willing to
have these conversations. And so my first would be
to say it’s sort of find the people who are willing
to talk to you about this. You can also buy the book
(laughing) and ask your parents to read the book and talk to your parents about stories in the book instead of stories
about your own life. And say what about this one
time with Lucy and Scott, like can we talk through that? Yeah, I am shameless,
– I think that’s great. – by the way, you guys
should know that, but yeah. – Me too, me too.
– Shameless. (mumbling) – Just one last question then we do want to open it up to some audience questions. But speak about, specifically, what can be done at Columbia, what more can be done
to help sexual wellness, sexual citizenship here on campus, and to combat sexual assault, and what has been done
here at Columbia to date? – I mean, Columbia has been
incredibly responsive to, as Suzanne was saying,
to the SHIFT findings and really tried to, sort of, in the way that you wish all institutions would, to build out an evidence-based response. So I’m just gonna call
out my favorite impact of the SHIFT research. We talk in the book a lot about spaces and how spaces produce vulnerability. And so Columbia actually has
been thinking about changing the social landscape. One of the cafeterias
is now open all night. When the bars close down and the parties end A place to go and be together so that they don’t just always enter into a dorm room where there are
four pieces of furniture and the only comfortable
place to sit is a bed. As I think that, in general,
the openness to the findings from the broader SHIFT project
has been extraordinary. Yeah.
– I was just gonna add, I mean, I think schools can do a lot but it’s also time for us
to talk to our legislatures and really put comprehensive sex ed on the legislative agenda. I mean, this is incredibly important. In part of the survey
research led by Johnson Tally, what they found was that young people who had had comprehensive
sexuality education that included practicing refusal skills, sort of, practicing saying no, were half as likely to experience assault. I mean that’s a huge impact. And as much as we think that this is gonna be really
difficult, we need to know that across the political spectrum, not among politicians but around people, there is widespread support for comprehensive sexuality education. And so we really need to
push legislatures on that because I think it needs to start young and it needs to be something
that we’re dedicated to or we don’t just rely upon schools or elite schools, like Columbia, who can throw money at a
problem and help all of the kids who happen to go here, but across the nation,
then there’s still gonna be this sort of really extreme problem that so many young people are facing. – I mean, you know in
public health we have the idea of herd immunity
that you need to get to sort of like a certain level of vaccination before people are safe. And comprehensive sexuality
education is what’s going to get us to herd immunity. You could be great with your own kid Then they go off to school. With kids and you don’t know
if those kids have spoken to their parents so that’s
the community-level solution. – Right before we go to
Q&A, I just wanted to share a major epiphany that I had
one of many in my 15 years of being in practice as a gynecologist, and as a mother, and as a woman. It was a real light bulb moment for me and then I’d like to
hear your comments on it. But I see, half my practice
is under the age of 21 and then I have women of all ages. And what I’ve seen in my
adult patients, quite a lot, especially in my patients
who are in their 30s and 40s and 50s, is a lot
of sexual dysfunction, a lot of low libido, which
is not what these women want. They don’t want to have a low libido. And when I talk to them
about it and try to get a little bit deeper into what’s going on and what’s causing the problem, a lot of it, I began to recognize, is because it seems like
these were women who, heterosexual women mostly,
although some gay women as well, who had viewed sex for most of their adult life in
an emotional currency. That was how they connected
love and emotion and intimacy, emotional intimacy with their partner. When they had been with
that partner 20 or 30 years, things kind of started to take a nosedive. I then started to realize
that men, in large part, view sex as a physical currency. And so I started to wonder well, why aren’t men struggling
as much with low libido? And it’s because for them it still had their physical currency. And of course, the ideal is
a hybrid between the two, but it made me want to start talking to my younger patients about
sex as a physical currency and say you know what,
it’s okay to masturbate. I know we only think it’s okay for guys to masturbate but it’s
actually okay for women to masturbate and to
learn about their bodies and to learn about physical pleasure. So, of course, I had this
epiphany in my work life and I had to bring it into
my personal life as a mother. And so that when my daughter was 14, she went off to boarding
school, we were jogging one day, and I was behind her, of course. And I said, “Chloe, I want to talk “to you about getting a vibrator. (laughing)
“I think it’s very important. “If you learn physical pleasure, “you might have less
problem down the road.” And she bolted away from me. (laughing) She’s like, “Mom, you’ve
officially lost it.” But I do actually believe that just a drop of that would help. So I’d like you to comment
on that if you can. (laughing) – I’m happy that I am no longer the most embarrassing mom in the room. (laughing)
– There you go. No problem. (laughs) (clapping) – I think that we spoke
with a lot of young women who were keyed into sex as achievement. So that was very clear. But we also spoke with a lot of young men who had incredibly romantic dreams. They talked about the swan
boats and wanting to find a girl and take her on the swan
boats in Central Park. And so I think, I guess,
and they did actually. There was some swan boat action. (laughing) So I guess the take
away from me might be in a different direction that there’s a lot of heterogeneity both among
young men and among young women and among people of all genders, in terms of what they’re
hoping for out of intimacy. And we tried, this goes back
to what Shamus was saying, we tried really not to be judgy about what sex should be for, but
also to remind. If you are having sex with people in a way that treats them Like an object you are, more likely to assault
them or be assaulted. So hold those two things in tension. – So I want to open it up to Q&A. We would love for students to go first. So I just shared, god knows, one of the most embarrassing stories so it’s really free reign for anyone. This is a judgment-free
zone but we would love to hear from students first but anyone who has questions for Jennifer or Shamus. – Yeah, there are microphones over here. – Come on down.
– Come on down, yeah. – Yeah, don’t hold back.
(laughing) – It’s a little bit
like The Price is Right so you can just.
– Yeah. (laughing) – Hi, what’s your name? – Hi, ooh, sorry. Hi, I’m Crystal. I am a graduate student in
the department of sociology. I just was very curious, thank you so much for all your information, by the way, but I’m an alumnus of
Saint John’s University. And as you can imagine, sexual assault was a little taboo on our
campus and I really wanted to know just about your findings and your thoughts about
how, sorry, that was a lot, how we can address sexual assault when there’s so many institutional things, specifically going to an institution that sees sex as like a taboo? I mean, we didn’t have condoms to hand out to students on campus. So some of your thoughts about that and maybe how we can
shift those conversations. – Thank you Crystal, and we’re
just gonna take your question and then let Jen and Shamus answer. What’s your name? – Hi, my name is Andrew. I just graduated from school
up in Maine, actually. How big of an obstacle do
you see the drinking culture? On College campus’s today How big of an obstacle That is to making meaningful
change around this issue. It seemed like it’s so core to the problem to me when I was in school. – It’s an important question, go ahead. – So I think that people go to school in all
different kinds of places. And, in fact, most college
students in America go to community colleges and live at home. And so I think that’s,
again, the set of questions that we bring to this issue
really suggests that the way to move the needle on
prevention is to start younger. We have to start with K through 12 comprehensive
sexuality education, we have to have these
conversations at home so that people are ready, regardless of where they end up in school to engage in whatever kind of
sex they’re gonna engage in in a more thoughtful and caring way. – For alcohol, alcohol
is incredibly important to this discussion. But we need to remind ourselves about the relationship between
alcohol and sexual activity. So people don’t just get drunk
and then happen to have sex, they get drunk in order to have sex. So alcohol consumption and sexual activity are often tightly
partnered with one another, and we might ask why. Some of the answers is like it’s fun, and that’s part of an answer,
but the other answers are that if you view sex as something that is so shameful or you’re so afraid of that you can’t really do it
until you get really drunk, then we need to ask
ourselves why is it the case that people are relating
to sex in that way? Also, just one. Second thing in the Survey work. Work, the research team found
that a little over half, about, I think it was 56%, of
the assaults involved alcohol. But that means that more than
40% didn’t involve alcohol. People were sober or
they weren’t that drunk. They were in relationships. And so we need to think about
alcohol but we also think the alcohol problem isn’t
gonna get us very close to addressing the issue of sexual assault. – Hello.
– What’s your name, hi. – My name’s Haylin, Shamus, you actually were my research advisor for my research in undergrad
which was a file about the relationship between
binge drinking and sex. – Yep.
– So I’m so excited to see this. – Yeah.
(laughing) – I have been teaching
sex ed for 10 years, my main expertise is in consent education. So I’m actually here
to give you a question that I have not been able
to answer at conferences when I’ve spoken about consent. I’m hoping that you have an answer. – Wow. (laughing)
– That’s a lot of pressure. – Yeah.
– That’s for Jennifer. (laughing) – I’m actually, I’m gonna ask what (mumbling) answer this one. – So oftentimes, when
I’m talking about consent and sort of the main talks that I do are about reconfiguring
a definition of consent, which I think that once I get to the end of this I’ll have
a lot more answers about. But the unanswerable question
has been I work in prevention, I’m working with kids to
prevent them from ever getting to that point, but from the
perspective of intervention, right, consent is a really
black-and-white legal framework that does not actually map over on the complexities of how human
beings interact sexually. So I’m wondering if there was anything that came out of this
project that helped you, maybe, have some clearer ideas on what a definition of sexual consent is that also works for intervention, right? Does that make sense, or? – Yeah, absolutely. – The chapter on consent is incredible and before we get to that answer, we’ll take your question. Hello I am Carol Ann I am a sophomore at Columbia College. I am the Gen and Sexuality representative for student Council. – There was a new pursuit council. And something I found,
as a good student leader on this issue, is that
students will often, let it be students I know or don’t know, come up to me about questions about like experiences they’ve
had, how to report it. And I think, not only as a leader but students in general
who may have friends who become co-survivors, any kind of tips and tricks on like let it be
holding space for your friends, your family who are experiencing that, but also kind of taking care of yourself as you kind of take on, I
wouldn’t necessarily say a burden, but such difficult
truths about someone who you really do love and care for? – Great question. – So I’ll take the consent one. – Yeah. – As it was kind of directed at me. – Yeah.
– Although we did publish an academic paper, we have, there’s a chapter on consent and an academic paper on
consent of what Jennifer was the first author on that paper so… – But we’re essentially
now the same person. – Yeah, kind of.
(laughing) So the thing that complicated
consent for us was that people consented to
sex that they didn’t want to have and people had
sex that they wanted to have without ever
consenting to that sex. And this sort of highlighted to us the problem with the consent framework. And it’s not that we’re
opposed to affirmative consent. And affirmative consent is the idea that you can’t just assume that
somebody wants to have sex. They need to express
in some way either with a verbal yes or clear communication that they want to be having that sex. And we are fully supportive of that. But in the context of relationships, we heard stories where, in one one couple, a gender-queer couple, one
of the people kept pressuring the other to have sex and was pretty emotionally
manipulative about it. Was sort of said like oh,
you don’t find me attractive, you’re not interested me
since I’ve been transitioning, et cetera, et cetera. So this person continued to have sex with their partner even
though they didn’t want to. And they consented to that sex. And so for us, like so much of our project is thinking about moving
the analysis away from that two-person interaction where you have a transaction of consent or
not between two people in a room to the world around them, and the sort of systems around them. And so thinking, Jennifer
answered earlier about power, where consent education
thinks fundamentally not about a moment of transaction between two people and the presence of yes or
the expression or affirmation, but instead tries to understand bringing that social world into that moment, we think will be really important. – I mean, just to add
on, we’re very fond of the driving metaphor. And you wouldn’t teach someone to drive by like only teaching
them to observe stop signs. And I think that we want to make sexual assault prevention easier because we’re gonna be able to deliver it in a 90-minute module. And so consent is, it’s a good part of it but it’s so much more complicated. And so we just have to acknowledge and hold the complexity of that. And I am so glad that you asked the question about holding
other people’s stories as co-survivors. We were really very moved by the ways in which sexual assault has a sort of community-level
mental health burden because students tell their friends, that’s mostly the only people they tell. Students are not mental
health professionals, they’re just fellow students. And they’re trying to hold
these very complicated, painful experiences
that have the potential to drive apart whole friend
groups and it’s a lot. And I think that the student
who asked the question pointed to an important issue
which is that you have to acknowledge your own boundaries. It is your job to be a friend not your job to be a therapist. And I think When you can support and
when the best support that you can give is walking your friend to SVR or to the counseling center and helping them get help, somebody whose job it
is to listen to them. It is really, if you think about the broader concern about
student mental health and well-being, I think,
under the drumbeat of all of the hard things that students hold is the complexity of being a friend to somebody who is endured
an enormous trauma. – I agree. Your question and your name, please. – Hi, my name’s Susan,
I’m a history student at City College, and I’m working on a history project about
campus sexual violence in the early 20th century and looking at how students
can talk about sexuality and campus and consent in different ways. But I was wondering how
you guys thought about the campus as a very
specific environment where, at the same time, experiencing a sexual assault on campus
is like you’re in your home but you’re in your school, but
you’re at your friend’s house but you’re at like your
nemesis in class’s house, like it’s kind of like a
weird like, how you guys, I guess, how did you think about the campus as an environment
and how did that affect the kind of questions you
wanted to ask students? – Great question, and your question. – Hi, my name is Ruby. I’m a graduate student in public health. I wanted to thank you so
much again for the talk and thank you for touching on the specific experiences of
black women in the study. I wanted to ask about what
you thought was interesting in the study when it comes
to the intersection of racial discrimination
and sexual violence, and especially how
institutions like Columbia, but also not like Columbia,
just higher education, can address students of color,
queer students of color. All type of students of color that experience sexual violence If and how those
interventions can help them. – So I’ll take that
question and then you can. So I think that institutions
face a challenge in terms of the legislative streams that
drive their prevention work. So the legislative stream that drives prevention
work around sexual assault is only focused on gender. And there’s an entirely
different legislative stream that requires the creation
of a racial climate in which all students can thrive. And so I think bringing those together programmatically,
it’s not impossible but it takes some institutional leadership to recognize that sexual
violence prevention needs to acknowledge and be grounded in a commitment to racial justice, and that work around
racial justice also needs to think about gender and sexuality. So I think that the challenge,
we’re not gonna wait for people in Washington or Albany to bring those two things together, we’re gonna realize that,
in the institutions we live and work in, we’re gonna
bring them together and see it as one project. – I mean, just quickly, a
story to highlight this. In addition that what we
heard from black women, black man’s fears of policing
and what an experience with the justice system, the
so-called justice system, does profoundly affected their behavior. One man told us a story of how he had had a sexual encounter with a woman. And he had read up on
what New York state laws were in terms of recording a conversation. And after they’d had a sexual encounter, he recorded this woman saying
she’d had a really good time. And he knew that New York
was a one-party consent state so that he could make that recording and it was admissible in court. Imagine, just imagine for a moment, what it means for that man
to have done that research, to have made that discovery
and to feel compelled to have a recording of her saying yeah, I had a really great time. And so when Jennifer and I, sort of, try to highlight the
intersections of gender, race, inequality, power,
fears of policing, this is the sort of thing
that we’re talking about and the sort of thing
that we think there needs to be institutional responses for. The history project. I’m super excited about that and you should send me your
work because, actually, not part of this book
but a different paper that I worked on with Connie
Nathanson, who’s here, and Desiree (mumbles)
who I think is not here, looks at the history of sexual assault on Columbia’s campus
going back to the 1950s. And in that, it’s very interesting, the ways in which sexual
assault and rape on campus in the 50s at Columbia was really
conceptualized as things that black men did to white women. So things that men in the community inflicted upon the campus. And part of the analysis of
that paper is showing how the attention to sexual harassment and sexual assault moves closer and closer to interpersonal
relationships with students. So at one point in time,
the attention was really on the ways in which faculty
were assaulting students and that has all but, you know, it’s not quite disappeared but
it’s not nearly as prevalent. But I think that we are very attentive to the ways in which, the
analysis that we do in this book is about one campus in one
very particular geography. And our hope in the book,
in introducing this idea of sexual geographies or the
geographies of experience, the ways in which place is infused with power asymmetries has
a really important aspect to the analysis of sexual violence so that when we think
about what’s happening, we need to have a
geographic analysis to this. And so thinking beyond the
campus sort of pushes us to see how those things happen. – Hi, my name is Nisha Sahai Achuthan.
– Hi. – I’m a Columbia alum. I was also heading the National
Commission for Women in the government of India, a decade ago, and I still run projects
in India on sexual assault, rape in the campuses, outside of campuses. I thought I’d share, in a
few seconds, maybe a minute, some of my experiences in India if only to point to the fact that
such problems are endemic to all cultures, and solutions
are also pretty similar. And the second part of what
I am going to be conveying to you is a report back
to Columbia University, the incidence of sexual harassment and how this is what appeared
in the Columbia Spectator, so I’ll come to that, and how there’s a systemic failure there. So in respect of the role
of parents in sex education and in the prevention of,
eventually, sexual violence, particularly in the context
of sons, men and boys, that is moreso more relevant
in the context of India where patriarchy is
still deeply entrenched. You’d be surprised, not
just in rural India, in middle class urban India where boys are slavishly aping the West and where rape and sexual
assault. A conquest and a exbihination of power But there too, I think, the root of the problem is discrimination between the girl child or the
girl and the boy at home. Where the boys are given a free hand, do what you want, and the
girl is supposed to conform. So our projects in India therefore focused on charity begins at home,
the role of the parent and, in particular, the mother to gender sensitization
programs focus on just this, on telling the, at a
very simplistic level, telling your sons look,
if you want your mothers and sisters not to
experience what others do. You have to give respect to
all women you interact with, and that has worked. So, okay, it’s just–
– Wait, I’m sorry, before we get to the second one, I just want to give her a
chance because then we’re, I think this is gonna be the last question and then I want us to have
time for the reception. – The systemic failure of Columbia, that should take just
about maybe one second. – Okay, one second. Well, okay, go ahead. That’s good news that it
will only take one second. – Well, five seconds. I just want to, all of you are aware and I’m sure all of you,
all (mumbles) from Columbia, this extensive reporting
of what appeared in The Spectator, Columbia Spectator, I just read out the conclusion to you and I’d like your comments on how the systemic failure can be addressed. (paper rustling) Okay, at the end of this. Extensive coverage it says based of interviews with students. Most Students have concerns
about mandatory reporting. That are not only about the policy itself, they fear that the policy is paired with the system that they
believe does not work. And that they would not want to participate in one, that places a disproportionate burden on
them throughout the process. So if one of you could address that, I think that would be very relevant. – Hi. – Hi, my question actually
follows from that. My name is Renata, I’m a doctoral student at Teachers College, and
I feel like you’re kind of letting Columbia a little off the hook. So in addition to asking what is sex for, did your book also ask why Columbia failed to protect certain students
back in 2013, 2014, and why other universities
have similar failed to do? – I was actually gonna bring up, to the point of history and stories that have been high-profile. Most of us, I’m sure, remember the St. Paul’s
prep school sexual assault that was national news. And if you could comment
on, not just at Columbia, what works, what doesn’t work, but why at institutions in
general when someone does have the courage to come forward, why so often we see it
not handled optimally? – So I think it’s really
important to just underline that the book was not about adjudication. We know from research at Columbia, from research nationally
that a very small proportion of cases are reported. And, unquestionably, it is important that people develop processes
that are. That are just and do not cause more harm and are respectful That our survivor-centered,
all of those things. That is not my area of expertise, it’s not Shamus’s area of expertise. What public health does is it
looks upstream at prevention. And so we want people who
are trained in those areas to do better and what we really want to do is focus on preventing the harm. – And I think, we speak at
the end of the book about what victims’ justice would look like and how we think that should
be integrated into this. But a lot of our view is that we are just, like so many other American problems, we are not going to punish
our way out of this. And less than 5% of
instances of sexual assault on Columbia’s campus are
reported to the university. – And Columbia is not
_ And Columbia’s – really different than other schools. – not very different than other places. And so the rates of reporting are so low that part of our vision
is that just getting the adjudication process right is going to address maybe 5% of cases. And for us, we really want to
think about this differently. So the question about mandatory reporting and what should be done
about mandatory reporting, it’s a very difficult
question and it’s not one that we can address. What we want to do is say how
do we create systems where the incident rate goes down considerably? And that, we can honestly say, like if you read “Sexual
Citizens” you will not find out what to do about instances of sexual assault when they’ve
happened. We have some thoughts. What you will find is a set of ideas. For how to make it less likely to happen in the first place. And so this is sort of, we are
in the prevention business, not the treatment business. And that’s really because of where, intellectually, we come from. Jennifer is an anthropologist,
I’m a sociologist. We don’t really know a lot in
our professional lives about how to adjudicate things. Instead, we try to draw upon this broader knowledge about
systems and communities to think about how to prevent things. – Yes? Hi.
– Hi, my name is Gracie. I go to Harvard where final
clubs as physical spaces are really notorious for sexual assault. And I’ve found, as a student
activist, that on my campus, we have almost no ability
to organize around control and challenging those
physical spaces in relation to sexual assault, particularly
when the administration has abandoned or disqualified any efforts to challenge final clubs like legally or even just socially on the campus. So obviously physical space
is not the only dynamic that plays into sexual
violence but I was wondering how you would advise
student activists, kind of, navigating that process
around fraternities and eating clubs, final clubs
as physical spaces of control? – You’re gonna love the book. – Yeah.
– ‘Cause there is– – It’s all about space. – Yeah, it is all about space. But yeah, that’s a great question. Go ahead.
– Oh sure. So to sort of expand upon your
question in other contexts, in the Columbia context,
Columbia has fraternities and sororities and by, some of the Columbia
students may know this, some of the people here
may or may not know this, by national rule,
sororities are not allowed to serve alcohol. And what that does is it
gives men control over the spaces where alcohol is distributed. And that has a profound impact, we think, on the ways in which
socialization and sexual activity is organized because it happens in spaces that men tend to have control over. Not solely, but a lot of it. And so we might ask, and in
the book we talk a lot about why it is that freshmen are
often propelled out of spaces that they control, their dorm rooms, into spaces that older students control? Some of that is because, we
believe, for some reason, that as you get older,
in a college campus, you’re entitled to better space. So like we don’t really question why it is that seniors should have
better housing than freshmen. Because we just believe like, well, you’re older and you’ve earned it. I mean, all you did was
age a year but still, we might begin to interrogate these things and ask why is that the case? And why is it that we propel younger, less-experienced people
into spaces that older, more experienced people happen to control? For the LGBTQ students,
control over space, their capacity to have spaces that, as our own, becomes really important. And so I am not an activist, Gracie. I’m not, Jennifer is actually much more of an activist than I am so maybe you have a better idea for
activist strategies on how to organize around this, ’cause she’s an incredible organizer. (chuckling) Do you? – I think that what you see,
you have a spatial analysis. And I would, don’t just
focus on the bad spaces, have a bold vision of what
better spaces would be. So in my fantasy university,
there would be great spaces for freshmen to party,
parties that they control. There would be more
spaces for queer students, there’d be more spaces
for students of color. So I think that there are ways
that institutions are higher. Education especially wealthy ones Can undermine the power of those spaces By making other spaces available to different groups of students. And I’m happy to continue
the conversation. – Yes?
– Hi, my name’s Isabel. I’m a junior in Columbia College. I’m a leader of several student groups and also campus media publication,
so I was just wondering, especially given how
few assaults go reported and how many assaults go unreported, like what role student leaders
and student groups can have to sort of shape the conversation
around sexual respect and sexual citizenship, and
also what way campus media can sort of help further
this conversation? – Great question. – One last question? – We can take one more. Wanna go ahead? – Hi, I’m Andy, I’m a
graduate student from the school for social work. And Dr. Hirsch, you mentioned
earlier about if we want to address the social (mumbles) on campus, we gotta also address the
ritual injustice on campus. And I want to raise that
to a different level of international students. So I am international student
and I’m sure that during the course of interview,
students, a lot of them, are internationals, and we
know that Columbia is made up of diversity, of students
from different nationalities, and we were taught we have
different sex act back there. And so like my question
is are like how did you and would you get international students to be more involved in the
sexual assault prevention effort? And involved here can mean
that having safer space to. To Report to talk about to evocate. – So I don’t know that we have time to answer all of the questions. I think one thing that
I want to touch on is the student group question. We talk in the book about
how students are afraid or worry about getting involved with students in their own activity group. Because, as you know, student
extracurricular activities are sort of substitute families. And so it’s easier to hook up with someone who’s like on the
periphery than it is within the student group. So I think that setting
clear community norms within your group about
how people are expected to treat each other as
human beings is important. And I also think, and this
is sort of thinking in the most expansive way possible about what sexual assault prevention looks like, is having more porous boundaries
to enter student groups when students aren’t freshmen anymore, to let their interests change. And so that, if you’re in a student group, we were very struck by
the stories of students who stayed in an activity group for years with somebody who had assaulted them because they didn’t want to
give up their extracurricular and they didn’t want to
make the assault public. And so I think thinking about creating a social world on campus
where students can enter in and exit out of activities when
they’re no longer freshmen, as opposed to feeling
like they sort of have to be in a groove, freshman
year, and stay in that groove. And it’s a longer conversation that I would be happy to have. – And just briefly on the
international students, we did interview a lot of
international students. They often marveled at just
how bizarre American sexual and drinking culture were. And I think one way to
approach this would be to say how do we educate
international students in what the American culture of this is, but another way to look at
this would be to invert that and say how is it that we
can expose American students to alternates, different
ways in which sex, sexuality and drinking
cultures are organized? And so instead of thinking
about international students as people that we need to instruct, thinking of them as also a resource that can help transform the local culture. – Last two questions, quickly. – All right, all right. Thank you so much. My name is Xing Jen. I graduated from Columbia
College this past May and I studied anthropology. I currently work as an
applied anthropologist in the private sector, and what
I found super exciting about this project is how you
harnessed what I love about the social sciences to tackle a really complicated social problem. And I’m wondering, for both
of you, what do you think is the future of maybe a public anthropology or public sociology and what
would be your ideal future for this kind of methodology? (laughing) – You’re hired. (laughs) – You know Shamus is the editor
in public culture, right? (laughing) – Oh, did we wanna get the second and the last one and then…
– Oh, second, go ahead. – Hi, my name is Andreas. I’m actually a high school
senior up in Westchester. And I know that you guys are talking a lot about college
campuses and college life. How do you think that
I, as a student leader, could do for my school to
better this environment, this sexual environment? – That’s such an easy question. You all, senior year,
should read the book. – Right, that’s right.
(laughing) – I mean, you’re not
doing any learning anyway in spring, senior year.
(laughing) So I think reading clubs
where you think about what your college project is
and how your sexual project is gonna fit into that, read the book, talk about it and let us know. – Yeah, report back. – Great answer. – And in terms of doing public sociology, public anthropology, Jennifer and I, I think, began this project
knowing that we wanted to publish a lot of academic papers. And we did. But so knowing that we wanted to try and communicate with a broader public. This book is not really
written for sociologists or anthropologists,
it’s written for parents and young people. And it’s sort of bolstered
by a bunch of research that we’ve done in other contexts and that we’ve drawn upon
from people we’ve worked with and people we’ve never worked with. I don’t think we always have to do this kind of work as scholars. I think that what enabled us to do this project was actually some of the really difficult, mundane
process of publishing papers that constantly were getting
rejected from journals. We’re still like, today I was working on a RnR for one of the papers
on this project and it’s, but those two things, I think, don’t have to exist in
opposition to one another. And they don’t always have to happen. In this case, it was just something that both of us felt in order to change the conversation in the direction that we hoped to see it changed, we needed to speak to
this broader audience. – Before I give you each 30 seconds to say what your favorite
thing about the book is, I’ll give you a little
time to ponder that, and before we wind up so that
we can get to the reception. I just wanted to add, from my perspective, not just as a medical
journalist but as a parent and as a gynecologist, I
really think that we’re at a really critical time in
our society on many levels. And, medically I think our overall health literacy is pretty embarrassing. There’s a lot of room to improve, and I think that you
can’t have literacy in a behavior without literacy
in the way our bodies work and vice versa. So I really believe that
the medical profession has the onus of responsibility to help to foster these discussions and education, not just for women, obviously,
but for men as well. And when you talk about
sexual citizenship, and I just love that term and the title, I think that what I applaud you both for, and literally everyone who came tonight, whom I hope will read
the book and continue this discussion in your circles
is I really believe that to grow and to move the
needle intellectually, academically, socially,
medically, behaviorally, we have to be comfortable
with being uncomfortable. And this is a topic that does make a lot of people uncomfortable, whether you have an MDF to your name, a PhD, you’re a college student, whomever, and I really really want
to applaud you for taking the steps to break that stigma and make an uncomfortable
topic, like sexual assault, one that we can talk about
and not whisper about so I thank you. Now 30 seconds, your favorite
thing of the book, go. – I did not set out to write a manifesto about adolescents’ right to sexual self-determination
but there’s no way around it. We can’t solve this
problem without addressing and moving beyond our fear
of young people’s sexuality. They’re gonna have sex,
we’d like them to enjoy it. We’d like them not to hurt each other. – Love it, Shamus? – My favorite thing about
the book is the stories. You know as much is there is a conception apparatus to it. The thing that drives this book is the stories of the young people, that they told to us, that we observed. If you read this,
hopefully what you’ll get a sense of is what it’s like
to be a college student today. And hopefully you’ll have,
not this idea of fear, but instead, hope and empathy, that we can actually do this. – Shamus Khan, Jennifer Hirsch,
you’ve done amazing work. You’ve made Columbia and the
Columbia community proud. I think you’ve made it a better place. And you’re gonna go across the country on an amazing
tour, spreading these stories. And I want to thank all the students who shared their stories
so bravely in this work and invite everyone to
the reception downstairs. Thank you. – Thank you. (applauding and whistling)

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

15 thoughts on “Preventing Sexual Assault on Campus”

  1. Tyler_ Lalonde- says:

    Hope this also focuses on false accusations and the lie of 1 in 5 women are sexually assaulted on campus.

  2. malik 1986 says:

    Columbia University
    I have two questions about the eleventh dimension theory -M theory
    The M-theory contains the super gravity of the eleventh dimension
    Therefore, this theory must explain how the big bang that created the universe occurred
    For this reason, M-theory must be developed to describe the high energy in the birth of the universe
    So I ask this question about describing the Big Bang in M-theory
    Can physicists develop M-theory?
    The second question is about new methods such as quantitative computer and artificial intelligence
    Do these new methods help us discover how the laws of our universe appears among the trillions of different universes In M-theory?
    Please communicate these questions to physicists

  3. Optimus Phoenix Prime says:

    Women at a male strip club are far worse then men
    I'm serious
    At a female strip club most men can't touch a women
    Female strip clubs and women can do wtfe
    A bias exists
    In women tords men
    And men tords men

  4. Who likes beans says:

    Female privilege exists and this university just proved it with "Jane Doe"

  5. single batch23 says:

    Columbia "university"….where chicks can rape men and the men get arrested for rape…..its all gonna come crashing down and its gonna be epic #bagofdicks

  6. Derrick Henry says:

    This could not have been timed more perfectly! Dude gets sexually assaulted here and they kick HIM out!

  7. aholesubs says:


  8. Derrick Henry says:

    It's only one day old and ALREADY hasn't aged well! That's gotta be a YouTube world record!!!!

  9. Spunky Monkey says:

    You guys are Trash

  10. Daddy S says:

    When you make a video to prevent sexual assault but promote sexual assault against students

  11. Don Keedick says:

    If you cared about sexual assault, you would have kicked that girl out for blatantly false claims. Great job you ruined a young mans life

  12. GonzotheGonz1 says:

    Even here in Sweden, we are now aware of what a travesty of a learning institution this has become. So happy that I finished my Masters before some universities became THIS poor.

  13. Bronze Vulpes says:

    This University Has No Prestige Left .
    It's Called the American Dream, Because you have to be asleep to Believe It…

  14. Alex Ad says:

    stop ruining innocent people's life. that would be a great start

  15. الحياة والعدم says:

    Columbia University
    I have three questions on how to test M-theory On the cosmic background
    The first question is whether theoretical mathematics predicts an effect on cosmic background radiation?
    For example, spots, temperature or Super Strings imprints?
    The second question is do cosmic background exploration devices need to be developed for testing M-theory?
    What are the predictions of the theory of supergravity from the eleventh dimension?
    We hope that you send these three questions to the famous physicist Brian Greene

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *