Air Force Academy Installs New Leadership, Proposes Changes
One week after replacing its top brass, the embattled US Air Force Academy is bracing for institutional changes, promising to confront the embarrassing rape scandal that has plagued the academy the last several months. Last Thursday, Brig. Gen. Johnny Weida, who replaced Brig. Gen. S. Taco Gilbert II as commandant, pledged to a crowd of 4,000, “We’re going to attack [sexual assault] three ways: culture, communication and commitment,” reported the Denver Post. The same day, Col. Debra Gray replaced Col. Bob Eskridge as vice commandant of cadets.
The Agenda for Change as the proposals are termed, calls for dramatic shifts in student body structure, including greater adult oversight and a weakened student command chain, as well as implementation of 24-hour dorm security and monitoring. In addition, the agenda mandates reporting of rape by anyone with knowledge of the incident, including fellow cadets, academy counselors, and medical staff—regardless of the victim’s request for confidentiality. Victim advocates warn that this violation of confidentiality is not only insensitive to a victim’s space and sense of safety, but the “inappropriate sharing” of information heightens distrust of academy officials, who victims fear may use post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) from rape against them for career advancement. “Victims have to have a right to talk to somebody and have that held in confidence,” said Jennifer Bier, director of Tessa, a Colorado Springs domestic violence agency, according to Salon.
The military’s consideration of special policies for women, including segregated dorms during basic training and clustered rooms, has sparked similar controversy. Professor Hillman told Salon, “[granting women special protection] sends the wrong message to the women there… It’s as if we’re saying, ‘You need to be protected.’ These are women who are going to be officers in the Air Force. They are going to do the protecting. When you’re perceived as a victim, it makes it difficult to assert power and authority.”
Media Resources: Salon.com 4/18/03; Chicago Tribune 4/14/03; Denver Post 4/11/03; Associated Press 4/10/03, 4/11/03; Feminist Daily News Wire
12/11/2013 Human Rights Day Celebrated Around The World - Yesterday marked International Human Rights Day, a day to celebrate human rights advances and to assess the challenges that lie ahead in protecting them.
"The fundamentals for protecting and promoting human rights are largely in place: these include a strong and growing body of international human rights law and standards, as well as institutions to interpret the laws, monitor compliance and apply them to new and emerging human rights issues," said United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay in a statement. . . .
12/11/2013 UConn Under Federal Investigation For Mishandling Sexual Assault Cases - The US Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights (OCR) informed the University of Connecticut on Monday that it will investigate the school for allegedly mishandling sexual assault cases and violating Title IX, the federal law that requires all recipients of federal financial assistance for education programs and activities to prohibit sex discrimination and sexual harassment [PDF].
The investigation was sparked after seven women filed a formal complaint in October alleging that UConn had failed to protect them from sexual assault and exposed them to a sexually hostile environment.One woman says her attacker was expelled from campus but later readmitted without her knowledge. . . .
12/11/2013 Massachusetts Democrat Katherine Clark Wins Congressional Seat - Democrat Katherine Clark will become the fifth woman to represent Massachusetts in the US House Tuesday, after easily defeating three opponents in a special election.
"Six years ago, there wasn't a single woman representing Massachusetts in Congress," said Niki Tsongas, the only other woman representing Massachusetts in the House. . . .