Harvard Law students don’t want rape law taught because of ‘potential to cause distress’

Harvard Law students don’t want rape law taught because of ‘potential to cause distress’

According to Harvard Law School Professor Jeannie Suk, she and her colleagues have been pressured by students to avoid writing exam questions involving sexual violence or even teaching about the law regarding sexual violence in order to protect students from potential distress.

Harvard Law students don't want rape law taught because of 'potential to cause distress'

Like the students arguing they are too traumatized by recent grand jury decisions to complete their final exams, Suk’s account, published in The New Yorker yesterday, is a perverse result of a culture in which intellectual and emotional comfort is prioritized over the core functions of a university. Suk writes about student demands, many of which defy logic and common sense:

Student organizations representing women’s interests now routinely advise students that they should not feel pressured to attend or participate in class sessions that focus on the law of sexual violence, and which might therefore be traumatic. … Individual students often ask teachers not to include the law of rape on exams for fear that the material would cause them to perform less well. … Some students have even suggested that rape law should not be taught because of its potential to cause distress.

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6 Responses to "Harvard Law students don’t want rape law taught because of ‘potential to cause distress’"

  1. Ernest Greene   December 17, 2014 1:13 pm at 1:13 PM

    This is beyond ridiculous, even for academia. Some of these students will go on to become prosecutors and defense attorneys in criminal justice, bare-knuckled but necessary occupations in which emotional distress to counsel is the least of anyone’s concerns. I would think those who want to see an improvement in the dismal performance of our legal system where sexual assault is concerned would be the first to demand the most complete education on the subject possible.

     
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  4. Sten   December 22, 2014 12:03 pm at 12:03 PM

    I was interested in what this article had to say, but I can’t say I reccommend it. There were a lot of potential points to be made or ideas to be discussed that were missed. What we SHOULD be having is a conversation about how we can engage with sensitive topics in the classroom in a way that doesn’t shy away from important subject matter (which rape law obviously is), but remains sensitive to victims (which the author of this piece clearly isn’t). Rape is unusual in that an incredibly high proportion of college students have already be subjected to this violent and horrific crime. It’s easy to discuss tough crime issues when no one in the discussion is a victim. But when many of them ARE victims and even more have a close loved one who is a victim, and when most of the students are all too aware that there is a distinct possibility of them becoming a victim if they haven’t already… You *have* to acknowledge and deal with that.

     
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    • Voltaire   December 22, 2014 2:44 pm at 2:44 PM

      Only 3% of college students have been subject to sexual misconduct. Hardly a “high proportion”. I suspect you’re using a terribly misquoted NIH (I believe) study to gain your “facts”. The same study that started this rape culture mess, which should be noted, was an online volunteer study conducted at two universities…

       
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  5. Pingback: Harvard Law Professors Argue for Teaching Rape Law - TRPWL : TRPWL

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