Independent Women's Forum RSS feedhttp://www.iwf.orgThe RSS feed for the IWF. News/Commentary, Blog posts and publications(...)IWF RSShttp://iwf.org/images/email-logo.pnghttp://www.iwf.org33968No to 'Free' Community College; America's Cultural College Obsession Needs Changed<p> President Obama has proposed making community college free for students, claiming that this move would expand opportunities for Americans and better train our workforce. Others have criticized the plan, pointing out that it will cost taxpayers and won&#39;t encourage colleges to be effective and efficient.</p> <p> Fiscal conservatives are quick to oppose any expansion of government, and rightly so: There&rsquo;s no such thing as a free lunch, &ldquo;free&rdquo; education or free health care. That said, this proposal is aimed at solving real and significant problems in the U.S., namely the affordability barrier in higher ed. and the mismatch of available jobs and well-trained job seekers. These problems deserve our attention.</p> <p> In the arena of technical education, the United States could learn from other countries.&nbsp; This year I had the opportunity to travel to Switzerland and learn more about their education system, which is consistently praised for preparing students of all levels for a role in the workforce after graduation. Switzerland currently has an unemployment rate of approximately 3 percent.</p> <p> In Switzerland, high school students have two options: They can continue their studies on a university track, or opt for an apprenticeship. The design of these apprenticeships is very smart. Private industries bring students in and pay them to work a few days a week as they learn the skills necessary for the job &ndash; from manufacturing to mechanics to plumbing and electrics to cosmetology to nursing to tourism and so on. The other weekdays, students attend classroom studies.</p> <p> This model allows industries to participate in training the workforce they need. It benefits students too. They take home wages and gain work skills like being on-time and on-task. More importantly, they see the direct real-world use of what they&rsquo;re learning. (How often do American students say, &ldquo;When am I ever going to use this?&rdquo;)</p> <p> At the end of apprenticeships, according to what my Swiss friends told me, about 80 percent of apprentices are hired full-time at the same company where they trained. Students who opted to not have an apprenticeship continue on a traditional university track and go on to get higher degrees. Importantly, this is not off-limits for apprentices, who can change their minds later and apply to university also.</p> <p> In the United States, some cultural attitudes hold us back from embracing a policy like this. First, many Americans wrongly believe that everyone should get a 4-year college degree. It may be hard to accept or unpopular to say, but not everyone needs to go to college.</p> <p> In fact, students who attend some college, but who do not complete their degrees, are&nbsp;<a href="http://www.educationsector.org/sites/default/files/publications/DegreelessDebt_CYCT_RELEASE.pdf"><strong>much more likely to default</strong></a>&nbsp;on their student loan payments. Education may be a good investment, but only if students come out on the other side to jobs that reflect the value of their degree, and many don&rsquo;t: Many young college grads are un- or under-employed, meaning they are left to struggle with their debt on low-wage or part-time pay.</p> <p> Our cultural obsession with college affects the messages we send to K-12 students and has some negative consequences. We have a high dropout rate from high school as many students aren&rsquo;t engaged and have no hope (or no desire) for college, and don&#39;t see any other paths to success.</p> <p> We need to change our cultural perception of vocational and technical jobs and encourage kids to consider this pathway.&nbsp; Some American groups, like the&nbsp;<a href="http://www.mikeroweworks.com/home"><strong>mikeroweWORKS Foundation</strong></a>, have already made this their mission.&nbsp; Frankly, many 16-year-olds would be better served by the chance to train on-the-job and make a little money than to try to continue sitting in class, disengaged. Some American high schools offer vocational classes, but this isn&rsquo;t the same as actually putting students in a workplace setting and giving them real-world responsibilities.</p> <p> Another major issue in the U.S. is the unaffordability of college. This, too, is affected by an over-demand for college degrees, which is also fueled by the easy money available through our federal government&rsquo;s student loan program. Because so many students can go to college with a loan, colleges don&rsquo;t face as much downward pressure on their tuition prices as they should. A better policy would be to re-privatize student lending and tighten up the availability of educational loans.</p> <p> You may have heard the saying that &ldquo;nothing is as expensive as free.&rdquo;&nbsp; That would be the case with &ldquo;free&rdquo; community college, which would essentially eliminate price competition from the community college market, and price competition is our only hope for truly holding prices down. But even better than sending more youth to community college, we could start better equipping them for technical and trades jobs while they are still in high school.</p> <p> Free community college would be an expensive and inefficient endeavor. But that doesn&rsquo;t mean we shouldn&rsquo;t consider other reforms to our educational system that would open up opportunities to non-</p> <p> college-bound students and better prepare them for a successful career in the workforce.</p> <p> <em>Hadley Heath Manning is a senior policy analyst at the&nbsp;<a href="http://www.iwf.org/">Independent Women&rsquo;s Forum</a>.</em></p> <p> &nbsp;</p> http://iwf.org/news/2796064/Hadley HeathWed, 21 Jan 2015 16:01:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumIs artificially increasing the minimum wage best for lower-wage earners? • Inside Story http://iwf.org/media/2796080/Hadley HeathWed, 21 Jan 2015 12:01:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumEconomic issues took up the lions share of Pres. Obama's SOTU address • Inside Story http://iwf.org/media/2796078/Hadley HeathWed, 21 Jan 2015 12:01:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumSOTU: Would Pres. Obama's universal child care bring the intended relief? • Inside Story http://iwf.org/media/2796079/Hadley HeathWed, 21 Jan 2015 12:01:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumNew Government Report on Women and Obamacare: Propaganda and Fallacies<p> The Department of Health and Human Services recently released a report called &ldquo;The Affordable Care Act: Advancing the Health of Women and Children.&rdquo; In summary, the report touted that the majority (56 percent) of enrollees in exchange plans are women, that women are enjoying new coverage for no-copay preventive care, and that the uninsured rate among women has declined since 2013.</p> <p> The spin is enough to make you dizzy. A closer look reveals that while some women may find new benefits under the Affordable Care Act (or Obamacare), the downsides for women are far greater than the upsides. The law&rsquo;s impact on women&rsquo;s health will be great, but overall, it will not be an improvement.</p> <p> First of all, it&rsquo;s nothing new that women are the primary consumers and decision-makers in health care. By nature, women&rsquo;s bodies require more health care services, and even before Obamacare, women controlled approximately two out of every three private health care dollars. Women are also the primary beneficiaries of other government safety net programs, like Medicaid (70 percent) and Medicare (56 percent). Women are also more likely than men to work in low-wage or part-time jobs that don&rsquo;t provide on-the-job health benefits, making them likely consumers of exchange plans.</p> <p> One interpretation of this is that the exchange plans, and the subsidies that come with them, are a benefit to women. Another interpretation &mdash; obviously not mentioned in the government report &mdash; is that these women consumers are the biggest victims of a substandard system, and are disproportionately being hit with narrower provider networks, rising premiums, and the decreasing amount of choice in plans.</p> <p> But wait! Women famously get preventative care for &ldquo;free&rdquo; now! The HHS report says a whopping 48.5 million women are the beneficiaries of this policy change, which requires that insurance plans cover preventive visits, screenings, and contraceptive care with no copay.</p> <p> In reality, this figure actually represents a great cost: Imagine that in years past, these 48.5 million women paid copays of $20 each year for a wellness visit to their doctors. That&rsquo;s nearly $1 billion in costs that have been shifted away from individual consumers and back into the broader insurance pool where it is passed on as higher premiums. That&rsquo;s not good news.</p> <p> While women may be tempted to shrug at this different payment pipeline, we should actually be concerned about its inefficiency and the perverse incentives it creates.</p> <p> It&rsquo;s a problem when consumers have no &ldquo;skin-in-the-game&rdquo; when it comes to health care consumption. Women and men ought to be encouraged to use resources wisely, and insurance ought to be focused on covering unexpected costs, not prepaying expected expenses. That&rsquo;s the real route to controlling costs and &ldquo;advancing the health of women&rdquo; and men.</p> <p> This latest report from HHS also celebrates decreasing rates of uninsurance. There are likely many factors (an improving economy or increased public awareness of health coverage) driving insurance rates up. But let&rsquo;s give credit where credit is due: It&rsquo;s no surprise that Obamacare&rsquo;s mandate &mdash; that Americans must have health insurance or pay a penalty &mdash; would mean more people would get the required coverage.</p> <p> But sadly even increased rates of coverage don&rsquo;t necessarily translate to good news. The goal of our health reform should have been better health care, not better health coverage. While it&rsquo;s easy to confuse the two, Obamacare&rsquo;s path for the future &mdash; if not altered &mdash; will make it easier. Because the number of health providers is limited, and because holding an insurance card increases one&rsquo;s demand for health care services, the result will undoubtedly be shortages, which will manifest in longer wait times, fewer choices, and a lower quality of health care &nbsp;.&nbsp;.&nbsp;.&nbsp; even for those who are &ldquo;covered.&rdquo;</p> <p> Although Obamacare may be expanding women&rsquo;s government insurance coverage, the real-world results are just the opposite of &ldquo;advancing the health of women.&rdquo;</p> <p> <em>Hadley Heath Manning is the health policy director at Independent Women&rsquo;s Forum</em></p> http://iwf.org/news/2796058/Hadley HeathWed, 21 Jan 2015 09:01:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumHarvard's Health Plan Changes: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly<p> When the&nbsp;<em>New York Times</em>&nbsp;<a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/06/us/health-care-fixes-backed-by-harvards-experts-now-roil-its-faculty.html?smid=tw-share&amp;_r=0">reported</a>&nbsp;that professors at Harvard University were up in arms over changes to their employer&rsquo;s health plan, the irony was immediately clear: Many thought-leaders at Harvard championed the ObamaCare law that is now causing many employers &ndash; including Harvard &ndash; to make such changes.</p> <p> A little Schadenfreude is fun &ndash; and the political right understandably relishes the chance to mock liberal academia, but it&rsquo;s important to understand what really is happening at Harvard and why.</p> <p> First, what were the changes to Harvard&#39;s health insurance plans? Simply put, the rising cost of health insurance premiums pushed Harvard to change its insurance plan, and the new plan requires more cost sharing from workers. This is a story other American workers already know too well, as across the country rising premiums have forced other employers to make similar changes.</p> <p> Harvard employees will now have to pay $20 copays for some health services, and will face an annual deductible of $250. Sounds like a pretty cushy plan to workers who haven&rsquo;t been working at Harvard: The national trend has been toward higher and higher deductibles for workers, which reached a national average of $1,217 in 2014, according to Kaiser&rsquo;s&nbsp;<a href="http://kff.org/health-costs/report/2014-employer-health-benefits-survey/">employer health benefits survey</a>.</p> <p> Importantly, cost sharing, in itself, isn&#39;t a bad thing. In fact, cost sharing can be an important mechanism for bringing down healthcare costs as consumers feel some &ldquo;skin-in-the-game.&rdquo; Consumers may think more critically about what care is truly necessary for them, or where possible, shop around for better prices. When consumers have to pay in part out-of-pocket, they will demand more price transparency of providers, leading to more informed decisions.</p> <p> While cost sharing in general can be good, the reason Harvard is making these changes is bad: Harvard is asking employees to pay greater out-of-pocket costs in the form of deductibles and coinsurance because &ndash; according to their own employee guide &ndash; of added costs created by ObamaCare&rsquo;s many mandates and taxes, including coverage for &ldquo;child&rdquo; dependents up to age 26, preventative screenings with no copay, and a Cadillac tax on high-cost insurance plans.</p> <p> Typically, with insurance, out-of-pocket costs and premiums have an inverse relationship. Plans with higher deductibles usually come along with lower premiums. But sadly, the recent trend has been for&nbsp;<em>both</em>&nbsp;premiums and deductible to increase year after year.</p> <p> Why is this happening? As ObamaCare&rsquo;s many mandates add to the cost of premiums, the natural reaction of many employers (and individual health plans) is to move to plans with more out-of-pocket costs for workers. .</p> <p> But rising costs isn&#39;t ObamaCare&rsquo;s greatest failure: The real failure is that this major health reform law did not significantly reform the way most Americans obtain health insurance.</p> <p> Specifically, it did little to move away from an employer-centric health insurance system that limits choice, distorts markets, and adds to the cost of employment. In fact, the employer mandate in the law doubles down on this broken system, and is causing headaches in labor markets.</p> <p> Whether they recognize it or not, Harvard employees, and employees at other firms who offer health benefits, have been &ldquo;privileged&rdquo; for decades: Unlike people who must buy their own insurance, those with employer-sponsored plans use pre-tax dollars to pay their premiums, saving them thousands of dollars each year.</p> <p> Our health insurance system would be much more competitive and efficient if individual insurance plans and employer-sponsored plans faced equal tax treatment &ndash; an idea that conservatives have been championing for years.</p> <p> A move toward individual consumer-driven health insurance would see many plans on the market with cost-sharing mechanisms. But this would be a choice for individuals to make &ndash; not the forced result of bad policy or employers&rsquo; decisions. And the hope of such reforms would be that our healthcare system would become more efficient, which would ultimately result in real savings for all Americans.</p> <p> Sadly, the opposite is taking place under ObamaCare, and the result is higher costs for workers across the board, from fast food and retail employees to even the esteemed faculty at Harvard.</p> <p> The prestigious and cutting-edge university is frankly behind the times when it comes to changes in the health insurance market. It&rsquo;s understandable: Change is hard. But the millions of people whose individual insurance plans were cancelled in the fall of 2013 (despite promises to the contrary) learned that before Harvard did.</p> <p> It doesn&rsquo;t take a Ph.D. to see that ObamaCare is hurting more than it is helping.</p> http://iwf.org/news/2796013/Hadley HeathThu, 15 Jan 2015 14:01:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumGolden Globes: Great Night for Women<p> One topic ran through the Golden Globes awards presentation last night: women.&nbsp; And refreshingly, the speeches that touched on gender issues didn&rsquo;t bemoan women&rsquo;s underrepresentation in the media or in other parts of society, but they recognized how far women have come. Instead of focusing on the hurdles that women may face, the night was about celebrating the female characters who overcome.</p> <p> Amy Adams won Best Actress in a Musical or Comedy for her role in &ldquo;Big Eyes.&rdquo; Although the accomplished movie star admitted that she didn&rsquo;t prepare well for <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=elptI3Jux3A">her acceptance speech</a>, she did focus on the impact that women&rsquo;s portrayal in film and TV was having on her daughter:</p> <blockquote> <p> I feel so fortunate to be here and fortunate to play Margaret Keane, a woman who had such a quiet voice and such a strong heart and such a strong artistic vision and ultimately was able to use her voice. I&rsquo;m lucky because I get to stand here tonight with a man who stands beside me, who would never silence my voice&hellip; I&rsquo;m so lucky I have so many wonderful female role models here tonight looking out in the audience&hellip; It&rsquo;s just so wonderful that women today have such a strong voice. And I have a 4-and-a-half-year-old, and I&rsquo;m so grateful to have all the women in this room. You speak to her so loudly. She watches everything, and she sees everything, and I&rsquo;m just so grateful to all the women in this room who have such a lovely, beautiful voice and speaking to my daughter. Thank you so much.</p> </blockquote> <p> For her role in &ldquo;The Honorable Woman,&rdquo; Maggie Gyllenhaal won Best Actress in a Mini-Series. She also had some <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JVE2KrHuECA">insightful comments</a> about women&rsquo;s performances:</p> <blockquote> <p> I&rsquo;ve noticed a lot of people talking about the wealth of roles for powerful women in television lately, and when I look around the room at the women who are in here and I think about the performances I&rsquo;ve watched this year, what I see actually, are women who are sometimes powerful and sometimes not, sometimes sexy, sometimes not, sometimes honorable, sometimes not, and what I think is new is the wealth of roles for <em>actual </em>women in television and in film. That&rsquo;s what I think is revolutionary and evolutionary and it&rsquo;s what&rsquo;s turning me on.</p> </blockquote> <p> Interestingly, a few other &ldquo;women&rsquo;s issues&rdquo; got mentioned during the course of the night. <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5lncvn4Ajxs">Patricia Arquette</a>, who won Best Supporting Actress for her role as a single mother in &ldquo;Boyhood,&rdquo; said she felt the role allowed her to pay tribute to her own mother. Downton Abbey&rsquo;s <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=my07C3tO4Z4">Joanne Froggatt</a> gracefully and beautifully commented on the difficult topic of sexual assault. And marriage got a shout-out at the awards show too, ironically <a href="http://dailysignal.com/2015/01/12/surprising-speech-marriage-creator-affair/">Sarah Treem</a>, the creator of Showtime&rsquo;s &ldquo;The Affair:&rdquo;</p> <blockquote> <p> If I have learned anything from writing a series about an affair, it&rsquo;s how sacred and valuable and essential our marriages are.</p> </blockquote> <p> Overall, it was a great awards night for women, as actors, as viewers, and as all the roles we play, on and off the silver screen.</p> http://iwf.org/blog/2795987/Hadley HeathMon, 12 Jan 2015 22:01:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumIs internet access a right? / Era of $100/barrel over? / Phone separation anxiety • Cavuto http://iwf.org/media/2795995/Hadley HeathMon, 12 Jan 2015 13:01:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumBar Is Set: Pres. Obama's college plan requires only a 2.5 GPA • Cavuto http://iwf.org/media/2795994/Hadley HeathMon, 12 Jan 2015 13:01:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumU.S. Behind In Cyber War? ISIS hacks Central Command's social media • Cavutohttp://iwf.org/media/2795993/Hadley HeathMon, 12 Jan 2015 13:01:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumGood News and Bad News for the Littlest Americans<p> Last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released data on birth rates for 2013. The biggest headline is that America&rsquo;s birthrate hit a historic low &mdash; bad news for a country faced with a government budget crunch and poorly funded entitlement systems. America needs a healthy birthrate for many reasons, including development of the next generation of workers and taxpayers to keep our economy going.</p> <p> But hidden in the report is some good news. Births to teenage mothers decreased 10 percent from 2012 to 2013, continuing the downward trend of recent years. The rate of premature births also decreased slightly nationwide and now stands at 11.39 percent. Healthcare professionals should take pride in this statistic. Surely, part of the reason for these falling numbers is their hard work helping mothers carry babies to term.</p> <p> A nasty rumor persists that America&rsquo;s infant mortality rate &mdash; and therefore its prenatal care and healthcare system more broadly &mdash; is subpar. This rumor originates in international rankings that would suggest that the U.S. infant mortality rate is higher than that of 54 other countries.</p> <p> These rankings are seriously flawed. As explained in a report published by the American Enterprise Institute, &ldquo;U.S. physicians often go to great efforts &mdash; at the prenatal and postnatal stages &mdash; to save a baby with poor survival chances.&rdquo; We have significantly more neonatal intensive care units than other industrialized countries.</p> <p> Ironically, this extra effort and the additional resources the United States uses to deliver and save premature babies makes our infant mortality rate look worse than countries that do less. The report concluded that this &ldquo;additional health care may actually worsen reported infant mortality rates and misleadingly suggest poor care in the United States.&rdquo;</p> <p> Not only do Americans work hard to save every life, we also count more infants as born alive than other countries do. Some countries have weight or term requirements that reduce their denominators in the infant mortality equation. That means they declare many babies stillborn that would be counted as live births here.</p> <p> One doesn&rsquo;t really need a breakdown of the statistics to know that there is something wrong with these international rankings. Use your common sense: Would you rather deliver a baby in the United States or in Serbia, South Korea, French Polynesia, or Cuba? All of those countries rank better than the United States on international infant mortality rankings.</p> <p> The United States can still do more to help families with preterm babies. You may find this surprising, but many state governments &mdash; through &ldquo;certificate of need&rdquo; laws &mdash; restrict the number of neonatal intensive care units available to care for preterm babies.</p> <p> For example, in Virginia, this poses a problem. Many hospitals (58%) in the state that have a maternity ward do not have a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), meaning premature babies must be transported for care. This puts these already-vulnerable infants at a higher risk of bad outcomes, even death. And the Virginia Department of Health <a href="http://www.roanoke.com/business/news/salem/lewisgale-seeks-approval-for-neonatal-unit/article_e2646842-8fa3-11e3-bbe9-0017a43b2370.html">continues to deny permits for NICU projects</a> each year, artificially limiting the supply of health care for preemies.</p> <p> Certificate of need laws are one result of America&rsquo;s healthcare policy of overregulation: They presume that government officials, rather than medical facilities and the patients they serve, know best whether they should offer NICUs. In part, these regulations are a reaction to other government interventions in healthcare, but the effect of CON laws is to limit the supply of healthcare, which protects established interests (such as hospitals and existing neonatal care units) from new competition.</p> <p> The federal government once required states to have CON programs to evaluate needs for beds and medical equipment. But since this requirement was repealed in 1986, many states have wisely dropped their CON laws. There is simply no need for government to micromanage healthcare supply; providers are best positioned to evaluate demand, and they respond with much more agility and to the benefit of the little guys &mdash; in this case, quite literally.</p> <p> <em>Hadley Heath Manning is health policy director at the Independent Women&#39;s Forum.</em></p> http://iwf.org/news/2795870/Hadley HeathSun, 21 Dec 2014 09:12:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumIn Defense of Greek Campus Organizations<p> When&nbsp;<em>Rolling Stone</em>&nbsp;published a&nbsp;<a href="http://www.rollingstone.com/culture/features/a-rape-on-campus-20141119">horrific account of gang rape</a>&nbsp;at a fraternity house at the University of Virginia, the University responded by&nbsp;<a href="http://www.cnn.com/2014/11/22/us/university-of-virginia-sexual-assault-allegations/">suspending all activity for all fraternities and sororities</a>&nbsp;for the remainder of the year. This was a kneejerk reaction that punished many for the (alleged) actions of the few.</p> <p> Greek organizations have a reputation for drunkenness and debauchery, which may in part be deserved. But sororities and fraternities have many redeeming qualities and fill a special role in university life. To blame &ldquo;rape culture&rdquo; on the Greek system, or to seek to shut down these groups, would be misguided and unfair. Let&rsquo;s put blame where blame is due&mdash;a culture of casual sex, binge drinking, and confused notions of manhood&mdash;not on Greek organizations as a whole.</p> <p> In full disclosure, I am a sorority alumna. I married a fraternity man. I&rsquo;ve seen firsthand the positive role that these organizations can play in students&rsquo; lives and in the community and campus life more broadly.&nbsp;When I arrived on campus at my large public university, I felt lost and overwhelmed. After joining my sorority, I immediately felt the campus shrink: I could live with, dine with, and socialize with the same group of college women for the next few years. Doing so created tremendous bonds. Four of my seven bridesmaids were also in my sorority.</p> <p> As a freshman, I was not considering going Greek, but I was disappointed to find that my university offered very few housing options that fit my personal preference: to live in an all-female dorm. In fact, the university seemed hostile to the idea, as if it were outdated and didn&rsquo;t encourage a diverse dormitory life. There were no single-sex dorms available in the part of campus where freshmen typically lived.</p> <p> The sorority house (where I lived as a junior and senior) offered what I wanted. In fact, no men were allowed on the second floor of the house unless it was move-in day or move-out day (in which case the sister accompanying the man would shout, &ldquo;Man on the floor!&rdquo; as a warning to any girls who might be getting dressed).</p> <p> No, my sorority was not full of prudes, and I am sure these rules were occasionally broken. And girls sometimes spent the night out at a young man&rsquo;s dorm or apartment, or at a fraternity house (where presumably there were no such rules), but at least at our house there were rules, rules that smiled upon the pursuit of virtue, and rules that could be hidden behind as an excuse to send your date home (rather than inviting him to your room). &ldquo;I&rsquo;m sorry, you can&rsquo;t come up here&hellip; House rules.&rdquo;</p> <p> Greek organizations are one of the few last bastions of single-sex living on campus. Some students simply feel more comfortable living with members of the same sex, and Greek houses allow them to do so. In my experience, this girls-only environment accelerated the development of genuine friendships and made me feel at home.</p> <p> Those truly interested in reducing sexual violence ought to consider the impact that housing policy has on the problem.&nbsp; Is it a coincidence that the move to sexually integrate dormitories has happened concurrent with a rise in reported sexual assaults? It could be that some 18-year-olds are simply not mature enough to live in such coed arrangements, and mixing students this way may send the message that sleeping together is no big deal. In fact, coed dorms have&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424052702304432304576369843592242356">higher rates</a>&nbsp;of binge drinking and &ldquo;hooking-up&rdquo; than do single-sex dorms. If colleges are truly serious about fighting sexual assault, they should offer more single-sex dorms.</p> <p> Certainly society should do more to teach Greek students, and all students, that sex (yes, even consensual sex) is not just something fun to do with a stranger at a party. Much of the ambiguity and misunderstanding surrounding sexual encounters could be avoided if we took sex a little more seriously.</p> <p> While my experience as a woman in a sorority was very good, some will argue that the all-male and &ldquo;hyper masculine&rdquo; nature of fraternities is at the root of the problem and encourages sexual assault. Yet again, this appears more a problem of culture than assignable to any one type of association. If college men egg one another on to drink more and to treat women as sexual conquests, then this is testament to our culture&rsquo;s misunderstanding of masculinity. These young men are seeking to prove their &ldquo;manliness&rdquo; in inappropriate ways, probably because society offers little guidance on how men ought to act and earn respect. This is no excuse for assault, but might explain in part why dating and mating have become such treacherous waters for young people, Greeks and non-Greeks, students and non-students.</p> <p> But if young men could see manhood in the high view&mdash;men as protectors, providers, and complements to women&mdash;they would not seek to find their masculinity in the wrong places, namely drinking too much and having shallow sex. Instead, with a higher view of masculinity, fraternities can be (and often are) as they were originally intended: a place to promote ethical conduct and a sense of &ldquo;brotherhood&rdquo; among men.</p> <p> <a href="http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.3200/JACH.57.6.639-649#.VI9QMWTF-xF">The majority of sexual assault cases involve alcohol</a>, which is typically present at fraternity parties (as well as other parties on or near campus). But to acknowledge this, and to suggest that college women ought to be aware of this and take care with alcohol is&nbsp;<a href="http://feministing.com/2013/10/16/emily-yoffe-aka-dear-prudence-publishes-rape-denialism-manifesto-tells-women-point-blank-to-stop-getting-drunk-to-avoid-rape/">lambasted</a>&nbsp;as &ldquo;victim blaming&rdquo; rather than the common sense advice that it is. Surely, just as we take other precautions against the wrongdoing of others (e.g. locking our doors) we can encourage young people to be more cautious with alcohol. We want young people to avoid the whole host of bad outcomes associated with drinking too much including accidents, deaths, and assaults.</p> <p> Being part of a sorority, or a strong group of female friends, can be a benefit in this arena. Going out to bars or parties with a group of women provided a lot of benefits, including that we would keep an eye out for one another. If someone drank too much, the other sisters would see to it that she made it back home safely. Older sorority members can be helpful guides to younger members, who may not know basic rules such as &ldquo;Once you put down your drink, it&rsquo;s not yours anymore&rdquo; (i.e. it might have been drugged). Clearly, people can do horrific things to one another and while we can and should work to discourage that, we can also encourage women to protect themselves in these ways.&nbsp;<em>Being smart</em>&nbsp;isn&rsquo;t supporting a &ldquo;rape culture.&rdquo;</p> <p> Clearly, sexual assault on campus (and off,&nbsp;<a href="http://tva.sagepub.com/content/15/3/159.abstract">where it is actually more common for 18- to 24-year-olds</a>) is a complex issue, and blaming the Greeks is an oversimplification.&nbsp; The cartoonish&nbsp;<em>Animal House</em>&nbsp;version of Greek organizations as purely debaucherous also overlooks all the good that Greek organizations do. Every chapter has committees on academics and philanthropy. Some even have Bible studies. Study hours are required for members in danger of falling below GPA requirements, which nearly all Greek organizations have. Greek life is also a great place to learn and improve social and networking skills, which may be part of the reason that Greek students report&nbsp;<a href="http://www.nicindy.org/uploads/2/6/7/5/26758262/fraternities_and_sororities_report_5-27-2014.pdf">higher levels of success</a>&nbsp;in their careers after college.</p> <p> And many of the 5K races, backyard barbeques, and sports tournaments that Greek organizations sponsor aren&rsquo;t just for fun: Greek organizations partner with charities and require community service and fundraising efforts of their members. The results are significant. Fraternities and sororities raise and contribute millions of dollars each year.</p> <p> The principles set forth in the founding creeds of many Greek organizations include unselfishness, goodwill, honor, honesty, loyalty, scholarship, and self-control.&nbsp; These are high ideals to live up to, and Greek students, college students&mdash;and people in general&mdash;often do not, but in our efforts to curb sexual assault on campus, let&rsquo;s not misguidedly blame institutions that have great potential for good (and indeed already do a lot of good) for students, college campuses, and their broader communities.</p> http://iwf.org/news/2795855/Hadley HeathThu, 18 Dec 2014 08:12:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumFed Reserve rates stalled // Will classic launch save Blackberry? • Cavuto http://iwf.org/media/2795852/Hadley HeathWed, 17 Dec 2014 12:12:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumGOP 2016 Dilemma: Already dividing • Cavuto http://iwf.org/media/2795850/Hadley HeathWed, 17 Dec 2014 12:12:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumShift in U.S./China Relations: Good deal for all parties? • Cavuto http://iwf.org/media/2795851/Hadley HeathWed, 17 Dec 2014 12:12:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's Forum