Good morning, Broadsheet readers! The Epstein case gets weirder—and worse, India criminalizes instant divorce, and Cambridge goes full Kafka. Have a terrific Thursday.
– Academic absurdity. Before we launch into this morning’s biggest news stories—including takeaways from last night’s Democratic debate and the latest horrifying revelations about Jeffrey Epstein—allow me to draw your attention to a Kafkaesque story that might otherwise fly under your radar:
According to The Guardian, Cambridge University has decided that allegations of sexual misconduct should no longer be covered by the university’s general disciplinary regulations for students. Instead, it will introduce new procedure on October 1 that will define sexual misconduct as a breach of the rules of student behavior. The problem? The new system will not be used to evaluate cases of behavior that occurred before it went into effect. That means that two female students who have filed recent allegations of rape and sexual assault have been told that their cases will not be taken forward, reports The Guardian, since they fall into the no man’s land between the two policies.
As you might imagine, Cambridge student groups and women’s organizations are apoplectic. The university, meanwhile, provided a rather confusing statement: “All cases of sexual misconduct where the student wishes to pursue a formal complaint will be investigated. Cases that constitute harassment will be taken forward under the existing regulations. From 1 October this year, sexual misconduct will be explicitly defined as a breach of the rules of behaviour for students, allowing cases of sexual misconduct that do not constitute harassment to be taken forward. This will only apply to incidents that occur after 1 October.”
The case it a good reminder that sexual assault remains a serious problem at colleges and universities. Before our current #MeToo era, higher education was very much a center of the discourse on the issue—remember Emma Sulkowicz and her mattress at Columbia, the gang rape at Vanderbilt, the Brock Turner case at Stanford? While its easy to see why our focus has been pulled to the misbehavior of powerful men in the professional world, we shouldn’t forget that not only does such behavior persist on campuses everywhere—but that, as Cambridge demonstrates, academia is still nowhere near certain about how to address it.
ALSO IN THE HEADLINES
– Night two. A few highlights from last night’s debate: Kamala Harris and Kirsten Gillibrand went after Joe Biden over his track record on women’s issues—Harris on his flip-flop on the Hyde Amendment (which blocks federal funds from being used for abortion) and Gillibrand on an op-ed he wrote many years ago that suggested women working outside the home would would “create the deterioration of family.” The N.Y. senator also tried to stake a claim as the candidate who could best “talk to those white women in the suburbs that voted for Trump.” Meanwhile, Tulsi Gabbard (and Biden) mixed it up with Harris over the California senator’s record as a prosecutor. New York Times
– Baby ranch??? Just when you thought the case of Jeffrey Epstein couldn’t get any more disturbing, the New York Times drops a bombshell report that the accused sex trafficker “hoped to seed the human race with his DNA by impregnating women at his vast New Mexico ranch.” The story, which must be read in full to be believed, reports that Epstein wooed a number of prominent scientists—including Stephen Hawking—and was interested in a sort of modern-day eugenics, as well as cryonics (you can probably guess which body part he was planning to have frozen). New York Times
– Good riddance to talaq. India’s parliament voted to criminalize “triple talaq,” or the practice by which a Muslim man can say the word “talaq,” or divorce, three times in his wife’s presence and be granted an instant divorce. Anyone who practices the tradition will be subject to prosecution; some Muslim groups agreed that the practice is wrong but objected to India’s Hindu-led government intervening. Guardian
– Hero of HUD. The Texas Tribune profiles Maya Rupert, campaign manager to Julián Castro. A longtime aide to Castro at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, she’s never run a political campaign before, let alone a presidential one. Called a “superstar” by her former HUD colleagues, Rupert says she doesn’t want the next black woman to run a presidential campaign to be compared to her. Texas Tribune
MOVERS AND SHAKERS: Sutian Dong left her role as a partner at Female Founders Fund for a new venture. GE CFO Jamie Miller is leaving the company as it struggles with its turnaround. Kelly Craft was officially confirmed as the next U.S. ambassador to the UN.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
– Pierluisi for PR. For a while, the most likely candidates to replace outgoing Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rossello were all women; now, after Wanda Vazquez declined the job, Rossello has named Pedro Pierluisi, former representative for Puerto Rico in Congress, as his successor. His nomination will still have to be approved by the commonwealth’s House of Representatives. Fortune
– AMJ on PP. Alexis McGill Johnson gives one of her first interviews since taking over as acting president of Planned Parenthood after the messy departure of Leana Wen. She doesn’t address the controversy, but says that Planned Parenthood doesn’t plan to endorse in the Democratic primary anytime soon and that in 2016 the organization learned not to “leave anything on the field.” Time
– Tag team. Two sex tech startups, Unbound and Dame, are teaming up to protest what they say is sexist decision-making by Facebook on advertisements for sex toys. Their website “Approved, Not Approved,” shows which ads for sex toys from a male perspective were approved, and which ads centering women’s experience were denied. Facebook says it is working to clarify its policies in this space. TechCrunch
ON MY RADAR
The long and surprising history of roller derby New York Times
High-tech diapers test how much more mom and dad will pay WSJ
To cheat and lie in LA: How the college-admissions scandal ensnared the richest families in Southern California Vanity Fair
Why Ebony Magazine’s archives were saved The Atlantic
-Sequoia partner Jess Lee in a Bloomberg profile