What we learned at yesterday’s sexual assault lectures

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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:

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9 things we learned at the Janus Campaign Finance Debate

As politically and socially active as Brown is, three (vastly important) words rarely enter the myriad of debates and discussions taking place on the Main Green, in classrooms, dorm room floors and, because this is Brown, at parties on Saturday nights: campaign finance reform.

Everyone sort of knows what it is (“we need to get money out of politics!”), but few talk about the specifics. How are we going to get money out of politics? Exactly why is that so vastly important? Is it an attainable goal?

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The Janus Forum sought to answer this question by organizing an informal debate between Harvard Professor of Law Lawrence Lessig and UCLA Professor of Law Eugene Volokh. Both are outspoken members of the campaign finance reform debate, Lessig an advocate for overhauling our current campaign finance system (he recently started a grassroots PAC to support candidates pledging to reform campaign finance laws), Volokh, an eminent critic of reform.

What ensued was a nuanced and in-depth discussion of not only the theoretical problems and solutions (or lack thereof, according to Volokh) but also of tangible steps forward. Here are the highlights.

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What to do this week: September 15 – 21

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Monday, September 15:

Event: William Deresiewicz Lecture
Time: 6 – 7:00 p.m.
Location: 70 Brown St, McComack Family Theatre

Deresiewicz is the author of Excellent Sheep: The Miseducation of the American Elite (and a recently trending article on the New Republic that spoke of the same subject). Come hear and question him tonight on the subject of our very own education.

Tuesday, September 16:

Event: Pell Grant Symposium
Time: 6 – 8:00 p.m.
Location: Macmillan 117

Come to this event hosted by the Education from the Inside Out Coalition to learn about the barriers currently facing previously incarcerated students reintegrating into society. With rising populations in both state and federal prisons, this symposium will discuss the necessary reforms for helping students get back on their feet. A panel of experts (that includes previously incarcerated students) will speak.

Event: BlogDailyHerald Info Session!!!!
Time: 7 – 8:00 p.m.
Location: 195 Angell St (The Herald Offices)

All are welcome to our info session tomorrow night to learn the details about the best organization on campus, and to ask any questions about our applications, which are due Friday, September 19. We’re hearing all the cool kids are coming so you should probably mark your calendar.

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