Weekly News Round Up
A roundup of current news story on the state and national level, with a focus on feminist issues
By Tess Koenigsmark
Southern Connecticut State University students held a protest Tuesday against alleged university mishandling of a sexual misconduct case. Two years ago, the university concluded that Professor David Chevan had violated school sexual harassment policies after a student came forward with claims that he trapped her in a storage room and made sexual advances. Chevan was suspended for two weeks, but remains on campus and has not suffered any university disciplinary action beyond the suspension. While Chevan’s lawyer denies the allegations, the take-away here is that SCSU found Chevan guilty of serious misconduct and continues to employ him. This is not a question of he-said, she-said, but a failure to appropriately discipline a staff member found to be at fault.
Connecticut is using a unique approach to encourage enrollment in the state healthcare exchange, which opens in October. Outreach workers have been going to beaches, concerts, and other local events to market the exchange to residents. Connecticut’s investment is a smart one, as the more people enroll, the more successful the exchange will be. The exchange is targeted at the uninsured as well as people paying too much for their current insurance, and will offer substantial subsidies to offset costs.
NAACP leader Ben Jealous is stepping down as the organization’s President and CEO. Over at RH Reality Check, is it time for a black feminist NAACP president?.
Debate over the constitutionality of an Ohio abortion law is headed to the Supreme Court. The law requires doctors to follow FDA protocol for prescribing Mifeprex, the medication (sometimes referred to as the “abortion pill”) taken for a medical abortion. While following FDA protocol sounds innocuous enough, the Slate article linked above explains how this actually requires doctors to administer the medication in a manner that’s less safe for patients, making the law a blatant attempt to undermine women’s reproductive options.
India has sentenced 4 men convicted in a New Delhi gang rape and murder to death by hanging. The rape and murder of the 23-year old victim sparked outrage in India over the frequency of sexual assault and the government’s failure to address sexual violence.
In a recent study of 6 Asian countries (Bangladesh, China, Cambodia, Indonesia, Sri Lanka and Papua New Guinea), 1 in 4 men admitted to committing rape. The study highlights the widespread nature of sexual violence, and the need for proactive solutions addressing rape culture. A necessary reminder: While it’s easy to let outrage over sexual violence in other countries placate us about the state of affairs in the US, our “developed” nation is far from perfect in regards to this issue.
Speaking of which, members of the Peace Corps currently do not have access to abortion coverage in cases of sexual assault. Other federal employees, including members of the military, already receive this coverage. The Peace Corps Equity Act was introduced in the Senate earlier this year to correct this glaring oversight. To be sexually assaulted while doing your job is traumatic enough without having to worry about the consequences of an unintended pregnancy. You can sign a petition in support of the Peace Corps Equity Act here.
A report on the performance of Hartford students shows that that students attending magnet or suburban schools outperform their peers who remain in Hartford Public Schools. The initiative to desegregate schools is a result of a 1996 Supreme Court Case, and CT is still shy of its required integration benchmark. While it’s hard to deny that integration is beneficial (for urban and suburban students, I would argue), the bigger question is how to best achieve it.
A report by Connecticut Voices for Children found that arrests in CT schools declined over a three-year period, but many students are still being arrested for minor school violations. While schools should take legitimate safety concerns seriously, it makes little sense to criminalize children for non-threatening disciplinary issues. There is also a striking racial disparity in rates of arrests.