Just Answer the Question, Dammit

If you’ve been wondering where I’ve been lately, aside from teaching and grading I’ve been immersed in a series of mandatory Title IX online training courses at my University. Each module–there are four* of them–consists of a couple of dozen questions plus explanatory gloss. You’re obliged to give an answer to each question in order to proceed to the next question; you’re obliged to reach the end of the training module in order to be remain employed at the University; and having done so, you’re explicitly obliged to indicate your assent to the contents of each module as well.

Here’s one of the questions, under the heading “Constant Consent.” It’s a yes/no question. This is the sum total of the question-prompt.

Allie was kissing her date at the end of their evening together. If Allie chose to make out with him, did his having sex with her count as rape?

Now, there’s a paradigm of a well-constructed test question.
The answer turns out to be: YES, i.e., he raped her. Here is the official explanation.
Consent can be revoked at any time, and when Allie told him to stop she was explicitly ending her consent. Having sex with someone when you do not have their consent is rape, and her rapist could be expelled from his school and convicted in a court of law.

She told him to stop? I didn’t catch that. Evidently, much of the drama here seems to be happening off-stage.

So let’s take this step by step: Allie was kissing her date. From kissing, they consensually went to “making out” (ex hypothesi, there’s a subtle distinction). Then, without further elaboration, we’re told that they ended up having sex. Nothing is said in the initial prompt about whether or not the sex was consensual. The omission is then construed in the answer (which is not visible until after you’ve answered the question) to mean that Allie explicitly told the date to stop, and that he didn’t stop. Evidently, “constant consent” not only means that Allie has to indicate consent at each step of the sexual encounter, but that questions about sexual encounters can be written in such a way that if consent isn’t mentioned one way or another, we’re to infer that consent was explicitly denied and flouted.

The question is whether I can revoke my consent to take this online training.

The answer is: NO. Here is the explanation.

Consent cannot be revoked at any time. Once you’re employed, you’ve consented to everything that your employer wants to impose on you, no matter how ridiculous. Failure to take the compulsory training module will result in termination of employment.

In other words, revocation of consent would be a kiss of death for my further employment prospects. Pretty sexy.

*Correction, November 15, 2015: I had originally written “three,” but there are four. [Correction, March 24, 2016: Felician admin recently scolded me for missing the fifth.]

Postscript, November 16, 2015: As promised, an item from the harassment module of my training:

Watch your language: Tolerance does not mean you need to compromise your ethics. You may disagree with choices others make, but express your opinion respectfully. Don’t post critical comments on social media sites, spread rumors or call people names.

As we all know, critical comments are the equivalent of rumors or insults. For this reason, and with all due respect, no more critical comments will be allowed at Policy of Truth, especially if they are critical of me, Irfan “the Oppressed” Khawaja. Anyone who criticizes me will be asked to apologize, grovel, abase themselves, resign from any position they hold anywhere, and be reminded of the PTSD I suffer from my past-life Jungian experiences as a result of the Partition of India and Pakistan (in 1947, two decades before I was born). And then they’ll be asked to send me a check to cover my therapy co-pays for the rest of my life (ht: Jason Brennan at BHL).

That goes double for white, male cis-gendered (etc.) readers of this blog (yes, including contributors). I’ve had it with your privilege! Had it! Be quiet! Who the fuck hired you? This blog is my home! It’s not about creating an intellectual space. Do you understand that? Is this what Policy of Truth is? You’re disgusting

Just kidding! Ha ha.

If the preceding doesn’t meet your subversion-of-the-norms-of-discourse quota, try this post.

Postscript, March 24, 2016: I have mixed feelings about the AAUP–and particularly mixed feelings about the accuracy of their reporting–but unless there are any major boo-boos in it, this seems like a worthwhile use of their resources (PDF).