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
10/31/2014 Federal Judge Exempts Another Catholic University from Birth Control Coverage - A federal judge ruled Tuesday that Ave Maria University, a Catholic university in Florida, does not have to comply with federal rules meant to ensure that covered employees can exercise their right to obtain birth control at no cost.
The Affordable Care Act requires all new health insurance plans to cover all FDA-approved contraceptives - such as the pill, emergency contraceptives, and IUDs - without charging co-pays, deductibles or co-insurance. . . .
10/31/2014 Women of Color in Tennessee Are United in Opposition to Amendment 1 - Just days before the general election in Tennessee, a coalition of community leaders, clergy, and advocates led a press conference encouraging women of color to vote no on Amendment 1, a dangerous and far-reaching measure on the state's ballot.
SisterReach, a grassroots organization focused on "empowering, organizing, and mobilizing women and girls in the community around their reproductive and sexual health to make informed decisions about themselves," organized the press conference "to call attention to the unique concerns Black and poor communities throughout Shelby County and across the state of Tennessee face on a daily basis" and to emphasize how the upcoming election "could further limit [black women's] reproductive, economic, political, and social autonomy."
"We assemble today to impress upon black women and women of color, many of whom are heads of households, to get out and vote," said SisterReacher Founder and CEO Cherisse Scott at the event.
SisterReach has been educating voters about the particularly dangerous impact of Amendment 1 on women of color. . . .
10/30/2014 Medication Abortion Access Threatened by Oklahoma Court Ruling - An Oklahoma state district court judge has refused to block a state law restricting medication abortion, clearing the way for the law to go into affect on November 1.
The Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice, together with a local abortion clinic in Tulsa, challenged HB 2684 in September, arguing that the law was an unconstitutional restriction on non-surgical abortion in the earliest weeks of pregnancy. . . .