How Laura Kipnis’ ‘Sexual Paranoia’ Essay Caused A Frenzy At Northwestern University

Northwestern University film professor Laura Kipnis was cleared in a Title IX investigation by the university on Friday, following graduate student complaints over an essay she published in February in the Chronicle of Higher Education.

The article, titled “Sexual Paranoia Strikes Academe,” discussed university policies governing sexual misconduct, student-faculty relationships and speech on campuses. It described lawsuits between a Northwestern philosophy professor and two students who accused him of sexual assault.

Students took issue with the piece, saying Kipnis was describing a real-life case and that her facts were off. They accused Kipnis of retaliatory behavior and creating a hostile environment, and the school opened an investigation into the case.

Complainants in the case told The Huffington Post that they reached out to Kipnis about their concerns, and she did not offer to correct her piece. They then turned to the Chronicle and asked for specific corrections. One sticking point was Kipnis’ original assertion that the unnamed professor and the graduate student were dating. In the actual case on campus, the student in question has said she was not dating the professor. The Chronicle has since changed its wording to say that “according to his complaint,” the professor and student had previously dated.

On Friday, Northwestern told the parties they reached a conclusion of “no findings,” meaning the evidence did not reach a preponderance of evidence that Kipnis was “responsible” for the charges. The complainants told HuffPost that university investigators declined to provide them a copy of the full investigation report.

The investigation became public prior to its conclusion thanks to another Kipnis essay published Friday in the Chronicle of Higher Education. In that piece, Kipnis described the reaction to her first piece and the charges brought against her.

Some in the academic community worried that Kipnis’ —> Read More