Every Friday, we choose an alum who has been making headlines—for better or for worse.
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Ann Olivarius ’77, ’86JD, ’86MBA: A feminist pioneer keynotes Sex Week.

Thirty-five years ago, just after graduating from Yale College, Ann Olivarius ’77, ’86JD, ’86MBA, sued her alma mater for sexual harassment. The suit,  Alexander v. Yale, essentially got thrown out of court—but it set crucial legal precedents establishing sexual harassment as a form of discrimination under the federal civil rights law known as Title IX.

Last April, the US education department confirmed that it’s investigating a new Title IX complaint against Yale, which points to persistent problems in how the university handles allegations of sexual misconduct. Olivarius wrote an article for a student publication in which she names names of offenders from her day and detailed sexual threats and harassment that her daughters received as Yale students in recent years.

But Olivarius does not hate Yale. She returned to New Haven in the ’80s to earn degrees from the Law School and the School of Management (after a detour to Oxford, where she got a PhD as a Rhodes Scholar). Now a corporate lawyer based in London (with her husband and law partner, Jef McAllister ’77, ’86JD), she’s featured in an alumni profile on the SOM website.

And on February 4, Olivarius came back to campus to deliver the keynote speech for Sex Week. That’s right, the 11-day student-run sextravaganza, best known in past years for sessions on pornography and fellatio. In a talk on “How Sex Education Fights Sexual Harassment,” Olivarius segued from the Alexander case to the current Title IX complaint to the need for today’s students to change the sexual culture on campus.

“It is not enough to fight off the hostile actions taken against our bodies,” she declared. “We must also fight for the joyous ability to please it.” Speaking of “the incredible boost of confidence you can get by insisting on having incredibly good sex, Olivarius told the students: “Consider that a professional secret. Good sex yields good results.”

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