Those who went to the filming of the Stossel Show at UNC heard a representative of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) discuss the speech codes at our University. UNC has the rare dishonor of being put BACK in the “Red Light” zone. For more on that, you can go here, but the purpose of this post is to address the sexual harassment part of FIRE’s complaints about the University.
The Dean of Students has a list of examples of “sexual harassment” (or “sexual harasment” as they call it). According to this list the University considers you to be sexually harassing another student if you “explicitly or implicitly” ask for sex. Obviously if you do NOT do that before having sex, it is rape.
Also, the list names “sexually explicit jokes” (which is free speech, and quite widespread at UNC in my experience) and ”Physical interference with or restiction of an individual’s movements” (which is so broadly worded that a hug could arguably be banned) as examples of sexual harassment. I’m fairly certain that the vast majority of Carolina students engage in any combination of consensual sex, jokes involving sex, and hugging. These students could potentially have their lives completely ruined were these restrictions fully enforced because in the digital age, “punished for sexual harassment” will follow and plague an individual for the rest of his or her life. The University therefore has a responsibility to its students to answer FIRE’s criticisms and craft new policy that gives those who are legitimately being sexually harassed recourse, but that does not so grossly over-generalize and overreach on these issues to the point of making them a punchline.