Last Friday, November 14, President Paxson sent out an email to the Brown community that addressed a number of concerns regarding university sexual assault policy and planning for the future. In particular, she called attention to the Janus Forum event that was to take place the following week, “Valenti/McElroy: How Should Colleges Handle Sexual Assault?” Paxson wrote:
“Some people–including writer Wendy McElroy, who will speak with Jessica Valenti at a Janus Forum event next week–have argued that sexual assault is the work of small numbers of predatory individuals whose behaviors are impervious to the culture and values of their communities. I disagree. Although evidence suggests that a relatively small number of individuals perpetrate sexual assault, extensive research shows that culture and values do matter. Societies that have strong norms against sexual assault have fewer assaults.”
Further, Paxson informed the community of an alternative event to “provide… more research and facts about these important issues.” This lecture, “The Research on Rape Culture,” given by Brown University Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Human Behavior Lindsay Orchowski, Ph.D., would occur concurrently with the Janus Forum event, but in a different location. By initiating this alternative to the Janus Forum, Paxson made a bold statement to the student body, faculty, and the Brown community: she offered us the option to educate ourselves through a fact-based presentation or to attend a discourse in which two contending speakers posed significantly different solutions to handling sexual assault on college campuses. The events differed in purpose, in lesson, and in nature.
Though both events were videotaped, it was intentionally impossible for any person to attend both. So if you went to one and not the other, or if you missed them altogether, we’ve got you covered. BlogDH sent one writer to the Janus Forum and another to “The Research on Rape Culture.” Here’s what we heard: