Students are being asked by universities to “date” and to have sexual relationships with each other, as part of the ongoing debate over sexual violence on campus.
The proposed new policy, proposed by the Association of American Universities (AUS), has been criticized by civil rights groups, students, academics and activists.
“This is an attempt to silence, shame, marginalize and demean women,” said Alexandra Shamsi, a professor of psychology at Stanford University, in a statement published by the Huffington Post.
“It also perpetuates a culture of sexual violence.”
The proposed policy has been the subject of much criticism from students, professors and others, who say that the proposed measures violate the civil rights of women and girls.
A survey released earlier this month by the advocacy group NARAL Pro-Choice America found that 79 percent of American women and 63 percent of women in the US are concerned about the proposed new regulations, which include a ban on sexual relations with students and staff, a ban against using sexual violence as a defense, a requirement that students disclose their past sexual history and requirements for “safe-space” spaces such as dorm rooms, offices and library spaces.
It also prohibits the use of the word “dating” and the phrase “relationship”.
Students who have been sexually assaulted by a student have reported that they were pressured, subjected to degrading remarks and asked to share sexual information about the student with their male classmates.
The new policy has drawn widespread criticism, with some saying it does not go far enough.
“Students are being subjected to this kind of treatment that they’ve never been subjected to before,” said Laura M. Burden, a senior fellow at the liberal Center for American Progress.
“If this is the kind of environment that these students are living in, and if they are being treated this way, what does that say about our country?”
“A lot of people have been saying that [this policy] is a way to suppress discussion of sexual assault,” said Margo K. Meehan, a researcher at the National Women’s Law Center.
“But it’s also really about saying, ‘We will not tolerate this kind or that kind of conversation.'”
Kaitlyn McIlwee, a former student at Brown University, told the Associated Press that her sexual assault experience was “not a ‘date.'”
“The [AUS] proposal has the opposite effect of helping people who have experienced sexual assault and who are suffering and want to talk about what happened, because it does nothing to help survivors,” McIlwege said.
“I have to say that I’ve been incredibly disappointed in how this has been handled.”
University of Texas at Austin President Gregory Fenves called the proposed policy “unprecedented and deeply troubling.”
The university’s student government is currently studying whether or not to propose a similar policy.
University of Michigan President Lou Anna Simon, who is also the first female president of the university, said the proposed policies will not be acceptable to students and that “we must all work together to address the needs of survivors.”
A recent study by the New York Times found that about one-third of female college students report experiencing sexual assault at some point in their lives.
According to the university’s Office of Student Life, students are among the most likely group of college students to report sexual violence to the school.
“The proposed new policies are not based on credible evidence and are not reflective of the best interests of students, faculty or the university community,” Simon said in a release.
“They are deeply troubling, and we will continue to work with our faculty and staff to ensure these policies do not hurt our students.”
The new policies have prompted criticism of the universities’ own policies, which do not require students to disclose their history of sexual misconduct, nor do they prohibit sexual relations between students and their faculty.
In May, the University of Maryland announced that it would not allow its students to “come forward” to report assaults of any kind.
Other universities have not yet announced similar plans.
In August, a federal judge ruled that the Obama administration did not have the authority to block the proposed changes.