Blog

Update on Life

I am currently making a lot of decisions about a lot of different things. I dropped my string ensemble class, because I am not practicing the music enough, and I need to cut back on some things to make time for others. There are some significant challenges ahead with school and with life, because I need to pass both math classes, vector calculus and linear algebra, and I hope to get at least a B+ or A- in both of them. I think I got an A on my first calc test, and I have a linear test tomorrow at 9am. So for most of my Sunday, I will be catching up on the homework, learning to prove the proofs, and reviewing the notes and book. I'll be camped out in Taylor Hall.

I also am needing to figure out what I'm doing over the summer and next year, because I want to get a teaching certification for math, and that would require another year program at a different school. Aside from the need to create a stable plan for the next two years, I have some major projects going on right now, which I thought I'd address in this post. I'm trying to be more healthy with my time and behavior, so I've stopped using marijuana, alcohol, and tobacco. I also don't have time for pointless things like partying, and I don't want to spend my time at fraternities that enable sexual assault and don't hold rapists accountable.

My first priority involves strengthening our policies on consent, sexual assault, and relationship abuse. After researching state laws, it's become clear that the issue isn't taken seriously, and it's very difficult to convict someone. There are not clear definitions, and I'm exploring the potential for an "unconstitutionally vague" challenge to state laws. At the city level, McMinnville could improve upon state law, but according to our CPS director, city offenses would only become misdemeanors, and that makes sense. But even if we make it a misdemeanor to rape someone who is too drunk, I think that's a positive step, because it's currently not a crime whatsoever, unless the person is incredibly intoxicated, and even then, it's challenging to prove or disprove anything.

The student policies at Linfield don't address intoxication and incapacity to consent any better, still using the standard of being incredibly drunk and incapacitated, without clearly defining what it means. There is not a list of symptoms or any helpful guidance when making decisions. But this isn't the solution. We can't confidently asses someone's intoxication, especially if others are intoxicated. It's not practical to breathalyze people, and everyone reacts differently to alcohol. A uniform BAC isn't useful, which is why the police can give you a DUI if you appear intoxicated but are below 0.08 BAC. This same discretion must be extended to the capability to consent. If someone is taking SSRI anti-depressants, they have a very low tolerance. One beer is enough to get pretty tipsy, and two or three drinks would have put me far beyond the range of rational, coherent thinking and capability to consent. I tried SSRIs last spring, and they made everything more intense. 12 ounces of iced coffee kept me up for 6 hours, and I played the piano in Fred Meyer Lounge all night. I ended up quitting after a few weeks, because I don't think I need them, and I wanted to keep using drugs.

Anyway, it's not possible to say what scientific measurement constitutes an incapacity to consent. Social pressures cannot be measured, nor can fear of violence, shame, or being ostracized. The multitude of factors involved make it impossible to have one uniform standard depending on how much someone drank. The only solution is to require that consent be obtained while both parties are sober.

Once people drink, all bets are off. You don't know how they respond to alcohol, or what medications they may take. We could adopt a position that consent can only be obtained after one drink, or before certain symptoms emerge, but people's levels of intoxication will intensify over time, and the power imbalance afforded to older men with alcohol makes it inappropriate to approach younger women students for sex. The fraternities provide access to alcohol, and they provide freedom from the laws, but this makes students dependent upon their access, which can be exploited to gain sexual favors. It's not an equal playing field, especially when drugs are involved.

If someone agrees to have sex and keeps drinking, they may agree to do other things, and the boundaries will become blurred. Therefore, the only way to prevent sexual assault in situations involving drugs is to require consent be given while sober. All other instances would put the participants at risk of sexual misconduct or assault violations, depending on the circumstances. If you choose to drink and don't get consent while sober, then you can't expect to live without consequences and say you didn't know better. Such an attitude maintains the current environment of ambiguity, exploitation, misinformation, and inconsistent expectations or boundaries. If you want to have sex with someone while intoxicated, you must ask them while sober if they consent to having intoxicated sex. If both parties agree to have intoxicated sex, then that's fine, and they can go about their evening using drugs and having sex. But if they don't make that agreement, then students need the policy support that defines such an experience as sexual assault, because they lacked the capacity to consent. Otherwise, it's the same bullshit and nothing changes.

So I am very occupied with a social movement to modify Linfield's policies, write new laws for McMinnville, modify state laws, and potentially sue the state for its vague laws.

My next priority involves a matter that I can't publicly discuss at the moment, and it also will consume a lot of my time. For these reasons, I've had to cut back on other stuff, and modifying my work needs to be considered, too.

Some other less serious projects involve digital privacy and security training for students, staff, and the general public. We'll go over securing your web browser, installing some recommended security software, and using TAILS or the Tor Browser for better protection online. I'm also trying to start a food-cart, breakfast co-op, or other student-led project for food and coffee. I may buy a machine and set it up in the music or math building, so people have a place to get coffee without supporting Starbucks. I first need to talk with the respective departments and provide a clear plan to account for the logistics and finances, so that things are tidy and fair.

I want to establish a tutoring-partnership with the high school and middle schools, so students can come here after school or on weekends to get help. This would create better community relations, improve student learning, and potentially make more people come to Linfield.

Photography hasn't been a priority, but I have a lot of film to develop and print, so I need to start hitting the art department a couple times a month. I also need to persuade the art department to entrust me with a similar project that partners with the high school to provide film-photography education and darkroom development. Having these connections in place will give people more opportunities, provide excitement about the college, and show why Linfield is important. Even just having one student come here for art would be financially beneficial to cover thousands of sheets of photo paper. We just need someone to step up and spend their time helping, which is why I think I need to cut back on my work-study position and propose other ideas for improving the campus that can still result in a paycheck for me each month. There's a draft project on Kickstarter, which you may explore for a general overview of the concept.

If this were a private blog, I could say a lot more about my personal life, but all I can say is that it's very complicated, stressful, and unclear. In combination with everything, I need to start cutting out frivolous enterprises and making the most of each day, trying to eat well, get plenty of sleep, and workout somewhat regularly. I need to be supportive of my friends and make myself available, rather than being behind and struggling to get things done.

I'm going to workout and then do math for a bit, and then make lunch or go shopping. It'd be nice to rollerblade around campus, too. Very sunny and nice day. I need to find my old-lady sun hat though.

If anyone wants to help make the campus policies better, please contact me.