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Earlier today CNN ran a story (Update: since removed!) about new research suggesting that women’s political views are shaped by their menstrual cycles. I’m not going to rehash everything that’s wrong with the piece, beyond what I’ve already tweeted, but I did want to point out one thing.

The study, “The Fluctuating Female Vote: Politics, Religion, and the Ovulatory Cycle,” which is to appear in an upcoming issue of the journal Psychological Science, has three authors —Kristina Durante, Ashley Arsena, and Vladas Griskevicius.

Thought you might find that illuminating.

Last week a former Amherst College student’s harrowing account of being raped on campus — and of the administration’s subsequent appalling failure to support her or deal with the incident responsibly — was published in the college newspaper and almost immediately began to draw attention across the country.

Angie Epifano’s story of rape, involuntary institutionalization, and administrative failure brought other campus rape survivors forward, sparked vigils and other organizing, and prompted Amherst president Biddy Martin, until recently the chancellor of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, to announce an investigation of Epifano’s allegations and a series of possible revisions to campus policy.

In her statement, released six days ago, Martin declared Epifano’s experiences “horrifying,” and declared that the administration’s approach to rape complaints “must change.” As a result of an open meeting with students, she said, students would immediately be added to the campus Title IX and student life planning committees, campus penalties for sexual assault would be reviewed, and new regulation of off-campus fraternities would be considered.

On Friday a group of students secured a meeting with the Amherst board of trustees to discuss the crisis on campus, and the next day the board announced the establishment of a committee, to include student representation, which will conduct a review of campus policy in the area. The committee will make a public report in advance of the board’s next meeting in January, though it will have no formal institutional authority.

A crucial question going forward will be which students are brought into these processes, and how they are chosen. The president of the Amherst student government, not the administration, chose the delegation for the trustee meeting, but some students have been critical of the composition of that group, and are pressing for a less “manufactured” process for choosing representatives to the upcoming advisory committee.

Some activists also express concern that a narrow focus on written policies evades the core issues at stake. “The policy in place isn’t the heart of the problem,” senior Alexa Hettwer told the school paper. “Its enforcement by the administration has been shameful. This is more than just tinkering with policy; it raises serious questions about the direction and inclusiveness of the College in the future.”

Meanwhile, organizing continues. A new student website devoted to exposing sexual assault at Amherst appeared in the immediate aftermath of the publication of Epifano’s story, and yesterday they posted a photo essay of survivors (and allies) “featur[ing] eleven men and women who were sexually assaulted at Amherst College and the words that members of our community said to them following their assaults.” (The photos appeared on that site in slideshow form. They can be seen here in a single page format.)

And the impact of Epifano’s statement continues to be felt, most recently just this morning with the publication of another student’s account of how the Amherst administration mishandled her own rape complaint, leading to her transfer. (This student was enrolled at Mount Holyoke, a nearby college closely affiliated with Amherst, and was raped on the Amherst campus.)

“Now it’s a war on women? Tomorrow it’s going to be a war on left-handed Irishmen or something.”

—Paul Ryan, three days ago.

“But gosh, to tell our kids that before they have babies, they ought to think about getting married to someone — that’s a great idea… We can make changes in the way our culture works to help bring people away from violence.”

—Mitt Romney, five days ago.

•          •          •

The alleged shooter in today’s mass shooting in Brookfield, Wisconsin is a man named Radcliffe Haughton. Mr. Haughton’s wife left him not long ago, and shortly thereafter someone slashed the tires of several cars in the parking lot of her workplace.

Haughton’s estranged wife believed that he was responsible for the slashings, and thirteen days ago a judge granted her an order of protection against him. Haughton appeared in court three days ago in connection with that complaint, and was ordered to surrender all weapons in his possession to the sheriff’s department.

Today’s shootings took place at Haughton’s estranged wife’s workplace. It is not yet known if she is among the three dead and four injured at the scene.

This is our country’s war on women. This is the crucial nexus between single parenthood and gun violence. It’s real, and it’s an epidemic — half of all women murdered in the United States are killed by a husband, boyfriend, or ex, and they are never at greater risk than when they leave an abusive relationship.

If you want to talk about the social roots of violence, Mr. Romney, this would be a pretty good place to start.

8 pm update | Police have confirmed that Haughton slashed his estranged wife’s tires earlier this month, and that she subsequently obtained a four-year restraining order against him. All three of those killed today are said to have been women, but there is still no word as to whether she is among the dead.

8:15 update | Local media say that all seven of those Haughton shot were women, and that his two daughters (who I’ve seen referred to as his stepdaughters in other reports) have been confirmed safe.

9:20 update | One local television station is now reporting that Haughton’s estranged wife Zina Haughton was one of the three women he killed today. The four injured women are all expected to survive.

10 pm update | Although neighbors remember Haughton as a “good guy,” court records show that Haughton was prosecuted in 1984, 1990, and 1991 on battery charges. Twice he was found not guilty, and once — in 1991 — a domestic battery charge was dismissed when the complaining witness failed to appear.

In the last 21 months he was arrested three times. In January 2011 he was arrested for disorderly conduct, on charges that were later dismissed. In January of this year he pled guilty to misdemeanor disorderly conduct and sentenced to a year’s court supervision. A few weeks ago he was reportedly arrested in connection with the slashing of his estranged wife’s tires.

10:30 update | The January 2011 disorderly conduct charge, like the 1991 domestic battery charge, was dismissed when an essential witness failed to appear.

George Galloway, a controversial member of the British parliament, is suing the country’s National Union of Students for calling him a “rape denier.”

Galloway, a supporter of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, said in August that though Assange was accused of “sordid” behavior and “bad sexual etiquette,” the allegations did not “constitute rape … as anyone with any sense can possibly recognize it.”

One of Assange’s accusers has said that after she repeatedly refused to have unprotected sex with him, she awoke to find that he was penetrating her vaginally without a condom. The other says that he attempted to pry her legs open so that he could penetrate her while he held her arms down to keep her from reaching for a condom. The courts that considered Assange’s extradition appeals consistently held that these allegations amounted to rape under British law.

A few days ago the National Union of Students voted to ban Galloway from speaking at NUS-sponsored events, saying in a statement that the organization would not “offer a platform to speakers who are rape deniers or apologists, or support events where such individuals speak.”

A BBC article on the lawsuit does not specify what damages or other redress Galloway is seeking.

When the student union at the University of Florida was built in 1967, students requested that it be named in honor of outgoing university president J. Wayne Reitz. Today, students are fighting over whether that name should stand.

As UF president, Reitz participated in a purge of gay faculty and students that involved the firing and expulsion of dozens of people. During his administration, the university also failed to integrate until placed under court order, and then only haltingly, and in 1967 a popular professor was denied tenure  because of his political views.

Student activists at UF want the union building renamed for Virgil Hawkins, a local black scholar who fought a ten-year battle to integrate the UF school of law in the 1940s and 50s, but the attempt has run into resistance from the campus student government.

Student of color and LGBT groups on campus have held several demonstrations around the issue, with tensions rising after a popular law professor’s car was vandalized with the word “faggot” in mid-September.

Activists collected five hundred signatures in recent months in favor of a non-binding campus referendum on the name change, but student government officials have attempted to block it twice — first by claiming that the signatures were improperly obtained, and then, when that challenge was rejected, by objecting to the wording of the referendum question. Critics of the student government say the body is being improperly influenced by the Reitz family, who remain major donors to the university.

In a late September ruling the student government court stripped the contested language from the question, but allowed the referendum to be placed before the students, with the referendum expected later this month.

About This Blog

n7772graysmall is the work of Angus Johnston, a historian and advocate of American student organizing.

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