February 24, 2016
Since becoming chair of the department I’ve been thinking about sexual harassment a lot. Just like I did nearly 20 years ago. Then a young faculty in my former department was handed a dismissal letter after her first semester on a tenure-earning line. I demanded to know why. The chair, supported by the dean and many of the senior (read: powerful) faculty, eventually claimed she lacked collegiality. I said WTF. She was fired and I left for Geography.
Sexual misconduct is real and pervasive. When it occurs it often involves powerful males and their female students or junior colleagues. It is unethical. It impedes equal opportunity. It traumatizes the victims and reduces the intellectual vitality of the department. Let’s respect the dignity and worth of each individual and work to make our department a civil and welcoming place for all.