Professor John McAdams on his blog this week harshly criticizes the Marquette University Climate Survey on sexual identity at the Jesuit institution in Milwaukee. He has every right to articulate his views on this matter, and professors should freely engage in institutional criticism and practices. It is a fundamental right of academic freedom and shared governance. Yet one is free to critique the critique.
The purpose of the survey linked here, which is voluntary and extremely valuable, is to gather information on student’s sexual preferences and orientation. It also appropriately surveys possible hate crimes, and sexual assaults that may have been unreported. Its list of terms includes: “discrimination,” “unwanted sexual contact,” “bullied,” and “stalking.” Professor McAdams describes the Climate Survey as “politically correct,” “silly,” and “sex-obsessed.” From the complete list from the questionnaire, Professor Adams condemns, in particular, the following as “wild” and recommends that only physical or mental disabilities be included:
- Asexual: A person who does not experience sexual attraction. Unlike celibacy, which people choose, asexuality is an intrinsic part of an individual.
- Assigned Birth Sex: Refers to the assigning (naming) of the biological sex of a baby at birth.
- Gender Identity: A person’s inner sense of being man, woman, both or neither. The internal identity may or may not be expressed outwardly and may or may not correspond to one’s physical characteristics.
- Gender Expression: The manner in which a person outwardly represents gender, regardless of the physical characteristics that might typically define the individual as male or female.
- Intersex: A general term used for a variety of conditions in which a person is born with a reproductive or sexual anatomy that doesn’t seem to fit the typical definitions of female or male.
- Pansexual: A person who is fluid in sexual orientation and/or gender or sex identity.
- Queer: An umbrella term for LGBT people that advocates breaking binary thinking and seeing both sexual orientation and gender identity as potentially fluid.
- Sexual Identity: Term that refers to the sex of the people one tends to be emotionally, physically and sexually attracted to; this is inclusive of, but not limited to, lesbians, gay men, bisexual people, heterosexual people and those who identify as queer.
- Transgender: An umbrella term referring to those whose gender identity or gender expression (previously defined) is different from that traditionally associated with their sex assigned at birth (previously defined)].
It strikes me as essential for a post-secondary institution to have awareness of the psychosexual reality of today’s students. It enhances and informs campus life in so many areas such as on-campus housing, student organizational activities, discrimination, and possibly counseling. Increased awareness of sexual assaults on American campuses mandates that a post-secondary institution proactively collect data on sexual identity and adverse experiences on campus.
One of the collateral benefits of the country’s rapidly increasing acceptance of equal marriage, is a greater awareness and toleration of multiple sexual identities beyond straight or gay. A university, in particular, functions with greater justice and, yes, efficiency, when it gathers and understands the sexual dynamics among its student body. Dr. McAdams excoriates this survey as a reckless attempt to empower students “to have a list of grievances, and each group needs a bureaucrat in the Provost’s office or Student Affairs to cater to their grievances.”
John McAdams in 2011 named an undergraduate student on his blog, called her at home, and published how he got her number. He was furious that she was involved in the on-campus staging of The Vagina Monologues. His most recent execrable naming of a student on his blog dealt with the issue of gay marriage. I doubt that Professor McAdams would describe himself as “sex-obsessed” as he does the survey. Professor McAdams is very engaged in promoting his sexual politics on campus, yet ridicules Marquette’s effort to gather data, in a voluntary and objective fashion, that could lead to greater toleration and understanding of multiple sexual identities that assuredly occur on a campus.