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non-punishment for sexual assault at virginia?

with 8 comments

There is a serious crisis at the University of Virginia after Rolling Stone published an article that, unsurprisingly, argued that the administration failed to punish sexual offenders on campus. Soon, the University president, Teresa Sullivan, announced a suspension of fraternity activities until Jan. 9 but otherwise defended the school.

This is very disappointing. It has become increasingly common knowledge that universities are unable to handle rape allegations, they have almost no control over fraternities, and national fraternity organizations have set themselves up so that they are not liable for student violence. President Sullivan’s punishment is especially disappointing because the suspension only applies, essentially, when VA is out of session. Literally, the suspension applies now (Thanksgiving break), final exams, and the winter break. UVA is out of session until Jan. 12. Some “punishment.”

Here is the difficult discussion that universities have to have if this horrid situation is ever to end:

  • Rape is a felony. It’s something you go to prison for. Thus, colleges are not in a position to investigate or handle these claims. Student/faculty juries for felonies are a joke. All rape allegations should be immediately transferred to the police.
  • Develop new procedures for victims. Instead of going to the dean (who should be supportive in any case), all victims should go to the health clinic or local hospital *immediately* for medical attention and collection of physical evidence. This is especially important as research shows that violence is committed mainly by a small group of serial offenders who exploit the party scene. Even charges are never filed, physical evidence and documentation is needed to expel people suspected of violence.
  • Universities should divest themselves from fraternities because they are extremely dangerous and unaccountable. How bad? Essentially, insurance companies in America won’t ever cover claims related to fraternities any more. It’s that bad.

Sadly, we will always be faced with the challenge of sexual violence. However, universities have allowed a hot house environment for violence to grow on their campuses. Allowing large groups of unsupervised young men to throw alcohol drenched parties with no liability is a recipe for disaster. This has to end.

50+ chapters of grad skool advice goodness: Grad Skool Rulz/From Black Power 

Written by fabiorojas

November 26, 2014 at 12:01 am

a comment about agent based models in sociology in response to freese

with 4 comments

About a week ago, Jeremy stopped by ye olde alma mater to give a talk on some new work. I was at SocInfo 2014, but my spies told me he made a quip about me. He mentioned that I thought that computer simulations were on the decline, even though his talk was about simulations. Of course, haters being haters,* the whole thing got blown out of proportion. Maybe, but it almost came to fisticuffs.**

Still, there remained a basic point – was I wrong? First, it helps to clarify. I never said that simulations were declining overall. In fact, simulations are a core technique in engineering, biology, physics, and computer science. Simulations also have a long history in *some* social science areas. Demographers, for example, have used them for population projections for decades. So, I fully admit (and have always admitted) that outside sociology, simulations are alive and well.

My point is specific to sociology. Simulations are honestly quite rare. Sure, a few folks do them. James Kitts, Kathleen Carley, and Peter Bearman are card carrying sociologists who have routinely used simulations. But how frequent is this? Not very, I’d hazard that less than 5% of papers in our main soc journals (top 4 + regionals). And yes, a few famous papers have been simulations (the 72 Cohen, March, and Olson comes to mind), but that generally doesn’t trigger a wave of simulations *IN SOCIOLOGY.* For example, how many authors in the Journal of Artificial Societies and Social Simulation  have been tenure track faculty in sociology programs? Some, but not that many. How many readers of this blog have ever read JASSS?

I’d love to be wrong. I would love for their to be a large and growing contingent of social simulation in sociology programs.But right now, it’s niche area. Why? My guess is that there is a lot of inertia and there is a selection effect. I hope that changes.

* Hater = Fabio looking for twitter action on a Sunday night.

** How old people fight.

50+ chapters of grad skool advice goodness: Grad Skool Rulz/From Black Power 

Written by fabiorojas

November 25, 2014 at 12:01 am

Posted in fabio, mere empirics

congrats to awesome IU grad students

with one comment

The December ASR has a number of articles by IU related folks, including Brea Perry, who just joined us. Notable is an article by three IU BGS* called “Formal Rights and Informal Privileges for Same-Sex Couples: Evidence from a National Survey Experiment.” From Long Doan, Annalise Loehr, and Lisa R. Miller:

Attitudes toward gay rights have liberalized over the past few decades, but scholars know less about the extent to which individuals in the United States exhibit subtle forms of prejudice toward lesbians and gays. To help address this issue, we offer a conceptualization of formal rights and informal privileges. Using original data from a nationally representative survey experiment, we examine whether people distinguish between formal rights (e.g., partnership benefits) and informal privileges (e.g., public displays of affection) in their attitudes toward same-sex couples. Results show that heterosexuals are as willing to extend formal rights to same-sex couples as they are to unmarried heterosexual couples. However, they are less willing to grant informal privileges. Lesbians and gays are more willing to extend formal rights to same-sex couples, but they too are sometimes more supportive of informal privileges for heterosexual couples. We also find that heterosexuals’ attitudes toward marriage more closely align with their attitudes toward informal privileges than formal rights, whereas lesbians and gays view marriage similarly to both formal rights and informal privileges. Our findings highlight the need to examine multiple dimensions of sexual prejudice to help understand how informal types of prejudice persist as minority groups receive formal rights.

Outstanding. You can read the press coverage here, here, and here.

* Brilliant Grad Students. And yes, Annalise and Lisa were students in Fabio’s School of Orgtheory. Even though I had nothing at all to do with their work, I will still parade them around.

50+ chapters of grad skool advice goodness: Grad Skool Rulz/From Black Power

Written by fabiorojas

November 24, 2014 at 2:20 am

Posted in fabio, sociology

hair

with 2 comments

50+ chapters of grad skool advice goodness: Grad Skool Rulz/From Black Power

Written by fabiorojas

November 23, 2014 at 12:04 am

Posted in fabio

deportation suspension and legalization: a great first step – now, let’s open the borders

with 3 comments

immigration-flowchart

From the Washington Post article on the “insanely  confusing” path to citizenship.

Last night, President Obama announced new policies that would allow approximately five million persons to live in peace without fear of deportation. If you have lived in the United States for five years and have no crimes, you can obtain a status that allows you to be a legal resident. A similar rule applies to people brought as children and those with family members who are here legally. All I can say is “bravo.”

As much I applaud this action, it leaves serious problems unresolved. Currently, immigration to the United States is extremely difficult unless you are highly skilled or come from a country that has favored status. If you want to come to America because you want to escape poverty, political persecution, or organized crime, you have to pay thousands of dollars in fees, wait years, and hope that your number will be called. The chart above summarizes the complex and confusing immigration system. It’s not designed to facilitate legal migration. It’s designed to prevent migration.

It is completely normal for people to move to pursue jobs, be with friends, or simply to be in a place that they like better. Thus, let’s abolish this monstrosity of an immigration system. I’d advocate completely open borders, but there are other humane systems. For example, much migration is linked to jobs. Having a program of guest worker permits with unlimited renewals would be one such system. Let’s think of others. This country was founded on open borders, let’s make it that way again.

50+ chapters of grad skool advice goodness: Grad Skool Rulz/From Black Power

Written by fabiorojas

November 22, 2014 at 12:07 am

Posted in current events, fabio

obama and immigration amnesty: let this be the first step toward free migration

with 10 comments

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On Thursday, President Obama is scheduled to make a speech where he will likely announce an executive order that curtails some of the worst aspects of our immigration system, such as deportation of individuals who were brought to our country as children. I fully understand that Obama is a politician, not a magician. Even if he agreed that migration restrictions are unwise, he probably won’t act to pardon every undocumented immigrant.

However, I do hope that tomorrow’s actions won’t be an excuse to restrict migration even more. Instead, I hope that amnesty, or deferral of action, will allow Americans to reassess immigration. I want Americans to realize that travelling from Mexico to Arizona is no different that travelling between North and South Carolina. As long as someone travels peacefully, leave them alone. Preventing someone from taking a job, or owning a home, or enrolling in school, based on their nationality is no different than preventing someone from taking a job because they are Jewish, Black, or female. It’s simply wrong.

So tomorrow, I will cheer for every person who can now sleep without the fear that they will be forcefully moved to another country. But at the same time, I ask my fellow Americans to think seriously about the morality of immigration restrictions and I hope that they see that is simply an unjust law. We need a new world, a world of open borders.

50+ chapters of grad skool advice goodness: Grad Skool Rulz/From Black Power

Written by fabiorojas

November 20, 2014 at 6:16 am

q&a with hahrie han: part deux

with 9 comments

We continue our Q&A with Hahrie Han on her new Oxford University Press book, How Organizations Develop Activists.

Question 3. A crucial distinction in your book is mobilizing vs. organizing? What does that mean?

 The highest engagement organizations in my study combined what I call “transformational organizing” with “transactional mobilizing.” The difference between mobilizing and organizing really comes down to the extent to which organizations invest in developing people’s skills, motivations, and such as they do the work. Mobilizers are focused more on breadth–getting more people to do more stuff–so they care only about the “transactional” outcomes: how many people wrote the letter? Organizers believe that they achieve breadth by building depth–how many people became more motivated or more skilled (“transformed”) as activists by being part of the letter writing campaign? So they design work that may be harder at first, but builds more depth over the long-term.

It might be easiest to describe the difference between “transformational organizing” and “transactional mobilizing” through some examples.

Let’s say an organization wants to generate a letter writing campaign to get letters to the editor published around a particular issue. Mobilizers would create letter templates and tools people could use to click a few buttons and send off a letter to their local paper. Organizers might ask people to compose their own letter, using trainings they provide. Or, organizers might match potential letter writers with a partner to compose a joint letter.

Mobilizers would have a few staff people organizing the entire campaign–those staff would create the templates, craft the messages asking people to write the letters, and coordinate any needed follow up. People themselves would not have to do anything more than click the buttons to indicate their willingness to write the letter. Organizers would set up the campaign so that staff people might design the trainings and the goals, but a distributed network of volunteers would be charged with generating letters in their local communities. Then, they would train and support those volunteers in getting those letters.

The organizations that had the highest levels of activism did both–they did organizing AND mobilizing to get both breadth and depth. It’s not that one is better than the other; it’s that organizations need both.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by fabiorojas

November 20, 2014 at 12:01 am

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