UC Rethinks Rejection of Men’s Literature Course

In January, the University of California reversed itself and agreed to accept for transfer credit a course taught by Professor David Clemens at Monterey Peninsula College, “Literature By and About Men.”

In December 2004, Clemens complained that the University of California had rejected his literature course for transfer credit because, the university claimed, the course had a “narrow focus” and “no comparable course in lower division” existed at any of the University of California’s nine campuses.

Clemens wrote following the university’s decision that,

While I don’t question U.C.’s woeful admission that not even one campus offers a course in literature by and about men, U.C. does accept, for lower division transfer from community colleges, such English courses as “Images of Women in Western Literature” from Saddleback, “Contemporary Women Writers” from Santa Barbara, “Women Writers” from Foothill, “Introduction to Gay and Lesbian Multicultural Voices in Literature” from Diablo Valley, “Women in Literature” from Santa Rosa, “Images of Women in Literature” from Santa Monica, “Changing Images of Women in Literature” from Butte, “U.S. Women’s Literature” and “Her Story: Women’s Autobiographical Writing in Multicultural America” from Chabot, “Literature By Women” from Sierra, and “Literature By and About Women” from Shasta, among dozens of other clearly thematic literature surveys.

By what process can U.C. analysts find “Literature By and About Men” not comparable to “Literature By and About Women”? Apparently, U.C. sees comparability as defined only by gender, not by level or type of course, thereby applying a standard of gender discrimination that produces an inequitable, politicized curriculum and differential treatment based solely on sex.

After Clemens wrote about his course’s rejection on a number of web sites dedicated to academic freedom, the University of California initiated its own appeal of the course’s rejection. According to a press release from NoIndoctrination.Org,

Shortly thereafter, Professor Clemens learned that U.C. had a change of heart. It decided it would initiate its own unusual appeal of the course’s rejection. Dawn Sheibani, UC’s Principal Analyst for Community College Articulation, explained to Professor Clemens that U.C.’s rejection was in part because “we have never seen this before” while admitting that such reasoning sounded like “Catch 22.”

After further review by U.C. faculty, “Literature By and About Men” has now been accepted for transfer, making it the only English course in the nine campus U.C. and 109 campus California community college systems to survey “multiple sources, enactments, and depictions of maleness, manhood, and masculinity in essays, films, short stories, and poetry either by men or about men.” “I’m sure the publicity played a big part in U.C.’s decision to recant,” states Professor Clemens.


A Victory for Gender Equity at the University of California. Press Release, NoIndoctrination.Org, January 24, 2005.

Sex and the Multiversity. David Clemens, December 20, 2004.

DNA Test Clears Colorado Athletes of Rapes

Almost as quickly as the multiple accusations of rape by University of Colorado athletes emerged, the set of charges appeared to crash and burn due to lack of evidence and, in some cases, positive evidence of innocence.

Following the school’s recruiting scandal, a woman came forward an accused two University of Colorado football players of raping her after she supposedly met them in a tavern in August 2002.

But both DNA tests excluded both football players as the rapist, and the attorney for one of the players said the police were racial profiling. According to attorney Nancy Holton, the woman did not remember anything about the identities of the men who raped her except for the fact that they were black.

In total, eight cases of alleged sexual assault were reported as a result of the recruiting scandal, and prosecutors have set all of them aside due to lack of evidence.


Woman reported she was raped in 2002. Associated Press, May 13, 2004.

Afghan Women Training for Role in Information Technology

What a difference a couple of years and a war makes. Under the Taliban, women in Afghanistan could not work outside the home and the Internet was banned because of all the immoral content it carried. Now, women in Afghanistan are training in computer networking to help kick start Afghanistan’s information technology industry.

Reuters ran a story in April noting that of the 17 people who graduated from Kabul University’s first certificate program in networking skills, 6 were women. Reuters quoted 18-year-old Nabila Akbari saying, “My personal goal is to share this knowledge with other Afghans, especially Afghan women.”

Rita Dorani, 23, another graduate of the certification program added,

My message for all Afghan women is to try as much as possible to learn about computers, because it is essential for every man and woman to be aware of this global technology. Men should allow women to learn this technology.

No, the U.S./Northern Alliance war in Afghanistan did not turn the country into a democratic paradise overnight where women have the same sort of rights they enjoy in the West — in fact, as Reuters notes, some rural areas of Afghanistan have reimposed Taliban-style limitations on women. But even with that in mind, there’s still no doubt Afghanistan is a much brighter place for women today than it was prior to the U.S.-led overthrow of the Taliban.


Afghan Women Usher in IT Age. Reuters, April 8, 2003.

Columbia’s Sexual Harassment Policies and Its Status as a Private School

Wendy McElroy makes an interesting observation that I had not heard before about the controversy surrounding Columbia’s sexual harassment policy. If Columbia were a public university or college its policy would be clearly unconstitutional and the courts would take little time at all overturning it. Columbia is a private university, however, and so doesn’t have to abide by the Constitutional protections that a state institution would have to consider — the standard for private colleges is that it has to adhere to “fundamental fairness.”

But as McElroy points out, Columbia is using a federal grant to pay the university official in charge of administering the harassment policy,

Columbia’s Administration also points out that the University is a private institution and the courts have upheld its right to determine which procedures are appropriate to serve its needs. In short, students have no right to expect Constitutional protections from university procedures. Private or not, it is the government, which means the taxpayer, who will foot much of the bill for Columbia’s experiment with gender justice. As part of their Report, the Task Force mentioned that grant funding to finance a full-time officer responsible for disciplining sexual misconduct was available from the Department of Justice. The on-campus gender crusader is estimated to cost $125,000 of taxpayer money in the first year. Yet, according to Patricia Catapano, who chaired the Task Force, “The courts only have said that Columbia…has to have fundamental fairness” because it is a private institution.

If Columbia wants to maintain its Star Chamber-like system of student justice it may have the right to do so as a private university, but it certainly shouldn’t use taxpayer money to enforce a policy that would be unconstitutional at a public institution.


Gender Madness on Columbia’s Campus. Wendy McElroy, IFeminists.Com, March 20, 2001.

Columbia University Refuses to Defend Its Sexual Misconduct Policy

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education reports that Columbia University is apparently refusing to publicly defend its controversial sexual misconduct policy. The new policy completely strips persons accused of sexual misconduct of any meaningful rights and has garnered a lot of unfavorable publicity for the university.

On February 23, the Columbia University chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union organized an event to discuss the policy. Along with opponents of the policy, such as Columbia Law professor Vivian Berger, the ACLU invited Charlene Allen, the administrator in charge of Columbia’s Office of Sexual Misconduct Prevention and Education, as well as representatives from the campus group that pushed for the new policy, Students Active for Ending Rape (SAFER). SAFER declined the invitation, but Allen agreed to participate. Shortly before the event, however, Columbia issued a statement that Allen would not participate after all. Fox News recently aired a story about the policy, and again Columbia refused to comment on the policy.

FIRE’s Harvey Silvergate said,

Columbia cannot bear the public scrutiny. They didn’t show up at the ACLU event, nor for the television program, because there is no principled defense for their policy. How can they justify the stripping away of the due process protection deemed necessary for hundreds of years. HOw can they justify the stripping away of the due process protections deemed necessary for hundreds of years in a free and decent society? The policy is worthy of the kangaroo courts of the former Soviet Union, the current People’s Republic of China, or Spain under Franco. It is not worthy of a world-class class university in a free country.

A good insight into the sort of thinking that went into this policy was given last year by SAFER co-chair Sarah Richardson. Asked by a reporter about the rights of individuals accused of a crime, Richardson asked, “Why are we so concerned about the rapist?” Guilty until proven innocent is at the core of SAFER’s claims and the “justice” meted out by the Sexual Misconduct Policy.


Columbia University unable to defend policy in public; activist enemies of due process censor FIRE, then make a U-turn. The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, Press Release, March 13, 2001.

Will the Heather Mercer Case Help or Harm Women?

When Heather Mercer won a $2 million judgment from Duke University, it was hailed as an important victory for women’s athletics. Instead it will likely shut the door for women who want to follow in Mercer’s footsteps.

Mercer wanted to be a kicker for Duke’s football team. She was given a tryout by the coach, but since her range was about 35-yards in practice, while a Division I school needs someone who can kick 45-yard field goals during a game, her coach cut her.

Mercer sued and a jury agreed that she had been discriminated against based on her sex. So why isn’t this a clear victory for women?

Because of the provisions of Title IX as they apply to sports. Under Title IX, if a school doesn’t have a women’s team in a given sport it must allow women to try out for the men’s team, with one important exception — contact sports are exempt from this rule.

That’s right, the current law is that if you allow a woman to try out to be a kicker on the football team and then cut her, she could potentially sue the university for sex discrimination as Mercer did. If you just tell the woman point blank, sorry football is a contact sport and the university doesn’t allow women to try out for such teams, the student has no recourse whatsoever.

The federal appeals court that allowed Mercer’s case to go to trial explicitly upheld the contact sports exemption writing, “we hold that where a university has allowed a member of the opposite sex to try out for a single-sex team in a contact sport, the university is, contrary to the holding of the district court, subject to Title IX and therefore prohibited from discriminating against that individual on the basis of his or her sex.”

The obvious reaction from universities seeing what happened in the Duke case will be to institute policies, either written or informal, to refuse try outs to women who want to participate on a men’s contact sport team.

In the end, Mercer’s legal victory will end up diminishing rather than enhancing women’s sports opportunities.


Sidelined! Kimberly Schuld, The Women’s Quraterly, Winter 2001.

Mercer v. Duke University. United States Court Of Appeals For The Fourth Circuit, No. 99-1014, Decided: July 12, 1999.