In February, Northwestern film professor and liberal cultural critic (and occasional Slate contributor) Laura Kipnis wrote an article for the Chronicle of Higher Education called “Sexual Paranoia Strikes Academe.” Kipnis’ piece was critical of what she called the “layers of prohibition and sexual terror” that have inspired campus rules prohibiting romantic relationships between professors and students. Wrote Kipnis:
It’s the fiction of the all-powerful professor embedded in the new campus codes that appalls me. And the kowtowing to the fiction—kowtowing wrapped in a vaguely feminist air of rectitude. If this is feminism, it’s feminism hijacked by melodrama. … The result? Students’ sense of vulnerability is skyrocketing.
Later in the piece, she argued that students “so committed to their own vulnerability, conditioned to imagine they have no agency, and protected from unequal power arrangements in romantic life” will struggle to deal with the problems and conflicts of the real world.
On Friday, Kipnis published another piece in the Chronicle, revealing that, in a twist that’s ironic on more than one level, she is now the subject of an investigation into graduate student complaints that her earlier column and a subsequent tweet violated Title IX, the law that prohibits sex discrimination in education. Her piece, in addition to pointing out the absurdity of being charged with discriminatory behavior because of an essay, alleges an investigatory process that’s ridiculously opaque for the accused…
Kipnis was not allowed to have an attorney present during her interview with Title IX investigators, she writes, but she was allowed to bring along another faculty member as a “support person” provided that the person she brought did not speak.