'A Complete Culture of Sexualization': 1,600 Stories of Harassment in Higher Ed

Q. You mentioned systematic elements of academe that make it rife with harassment. What are those elements?

A. First of all, professors have access to a constantly renewing supply of very young undergraduate students who generally have left home for the first time and are exploring lots of different things in terms of their sexuality as well as their intellectual ideas and emotional ideas. And they, professors, can really insinuate themselves inappropriately in young women’s development.

At the graduate-training level, the relationship is so intimate, and you spend endless hours in an office alone with your adviser or in the lab with your professor. The line between your professional work and your personal life becomes very blurry, because academia is much more a way of life than it is a job.

Departments routinely have departmental happy hours. You have wine-and-cheese receptions after visitors. You go out to dinner together all the time. Scholarly conferences always have at least one open bar, if not several. Interviews for a tenure-track job take place in hotel rooms.

It’s profoundly hierarchical. So all of those who are situated lower, like a grad student, Ph.D. candidate, a new Ph.D., or a job seeker, are completely dependent on the sponsorship and goodwill of those who are higher — the tenured professors, the deans, and the provost. If they offend them, they lose access to their funding, to their enrollment, to their letters of recommendation. They basically lose access to their ability to continue in their chosen field.
— Karen Kelsky, interviewed by Nell Gluckman

Success Academy's Radical Educational Experiment

At this, the girl adopted a stern expression. ‘You’re not supposed to play!’ she said, commandingly. She seemed pleased that the game afforded her an opportunity to reprimand her teacher—a chance to express a different facet of her imagination. ‘You are not supposed to play in preschool,’ she said, with conviction. ‘You are supposed to work.’
— Rebecca Mead

In England's Dreaming: The Crown and the British Heritage Industry

In museums and stately homes, in classrooms, and in television shows like The Crown, history has a macroeconomic job to do. Its role in Britain is to bring in tourists, to create neatly packaged cultural products, and to regenerate towns and cities. Even Britain’s instruments of government, the royal family, the sclerotic House of Lords, and the hollering Commons, are becoming part of the heritage industry. Under these circumstances, major constitutional questions have come to be drenched in a mawkish hue as it becomes harder each day in Britain to meaningfully connect the past with the present.
— Sam Wetherell

Something Has to Give

In 1989, the ninetieth percentile carried $5,598 of student debt, while the same percentile had $44,000 of debt in 2016. … In 1989, the debt of the ninetieth percentile was 11.5% of their current income. By 2016, it was 109.7%.
— Matt Bruenig

How the Sandwich Consumed Britain

The rise of the British chilled sandwich over the last 40 years has been a deliberate, astonishing and almost insanely labour-intensive achievement. The careers of men and women like Roger Whiteside have taken the form of a million incremental steps: of searching for less soggy tomatoes and ways to crispify bacon; of profound investigations into the molecular structure of bread and the compressional properties of salad. … ‘It is an absolute passion,’ one former M&S supplier told me. ‘For everybody. It has to be’.
— Sam Knight

The Banality of Virtue

There is a temptation — how could there not be? — to present the success or failure of societies in the grandest of terms, as evidence for the rightness or wrongness of this or that ideology or worldview. But whether or not our social world is likely to implode is more often than not determined by small acts between individuals. ...

Yet what remains crucial is the commitment to public institutions. That commitment matters not simply because it is a way to channel passions, but also because social practices are often contingent on institutional faith. ...

’[B]elievers in liberal freedom,’ he observes, ‘should worry not whether their regime can prevail in competition with authoritarian ones, but whether they can prevail against their own forms of institutional entropy: elite capture, corruption, and inequality.’ Our societies are, in a peculiar way, both stronger and weaker than we typically suppose.
— Madhav Khosla, reviewing Michael Ignatieff

Birth of a White Supremacist

After arguing himself out of every previous position, he had finally found the perfect ideology for an inveterate contrarian—one that presented such a basic affront to the underlying tenets of modern democracy that he would never run out of enemies. …

With each episode, though, the co-hosts’ anti-Semitism sounded more sincere.
— Andrew Marantz

Black Liberty Matters

These intellectual and cultural paradoxes in antebellum America survived abolition, and in mutated form survive to this day. The language of freedom in American political discourse has very often been appropriated for the defense of white supremacy. We have often heard the loudest yelps for liberty among those trying to protect the terror and apartheid states of the Jim Crow south, the quasi-serfdom of sharecropping, segregated schools, miscegenation laws, and the suppression of black votes. Particular types of freedom or particular strategies for limiting governmental power—freedom of association, religious liberty, federalism, bicameralism, and so on—all came to be identified at one point or another primarily as ways to prevent the federal government from breaking the power of white rule, just as before the war the protection of private property rights had so often been identified primarily with the protection of slaveowners’ supposed property in other human beings.
— Jacob T. Levy

To Be Black at Robert E. Lee High School

‘I wanted to say to them, “Where were you when they erased Emmett J. Scott? Where were you when they erased my history?”‘ she told me.
— Tasneem Raja

The Disasters of War

Just as the British tradition offers no equivalent to Walt Whitman’s poetry of the Civil War, so the American tradition seems to lack its [Wilfred] Owen. ...

The total number of American soldiers killed in those six months is roughly the same as those killed over twenty years in Vietnam.
— James Fenton

The Jesuit Martyrs of El Salvador

The University of Scranton campus has a memorial to six Jesuit priests (and a housekeeper and her daughter) who were murdered at the University of Central America in November 1989 by El Salvador's U.S.-backed army. This semester, I included the story of that event in my world history survey.