U. appears in sexual harassment crowdsourcing surveyand Sarah Warman Hirschfield | Dec 12, 2017
While the University has been embroiled in outrage and controversy over Title IX cases in the German department and pertaining to electrical engineering professor Sergio Verdú, it seems that the Orange Bubble has had further incidents of sexual harassment in other departments.
In a spreadsheet circulated on various social media platforms by The Professor Is In, an academic advising website for higher education, over 1,600 entries cite sexual harassment incidents on college campuses across the nation. The spreadsheet has only existed since the beginning of December. As of Dec. 12, six entries discuss incidents that are said to have taken place at the University, and several other posts mention incidents that involved University professors during travels off-campus.
Anonymous victims who contributed accounts of their sexual harassment and assault did so through an online survey. Participants were able to contribute as much or as little information as they were willing to provide.
The document divides the survey responses into 14 different sections, including when and where the incidents took place, the relationships between the victims and the perpetrators, and resultant effects on the victims’ mental health, personal lives, and professional lives.
Karen Kelsky, a former tenured professor at the University of Oregon and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and the founder of The Professor Is In, created the document “to identify patterns of harassment and harm in higher ed settings — college, university, academic research labs, research institutions, scholarly conferences and the like, targeting people who have or are seeking advanced degrees such as PhD., MA, MFA, Ed.D, J.D., and so on.”
On the survey, Kelsky emphasized that her goal was “to allow victims to know they are not alone, and to raise awareness about this scourge in academic settings.” According to Inside Higher Ed, Kelsky also stressed that “you cannot solve a problem if you can't see it” and that “this survey aims to make the problem visible to all.”
A doctoral candidate in the University’s history department wrote that she experienced “extreme sexual harassment” and “unwanted touching at a professional conference” from a senior professor from another university. As a result, she changed disciplines, deciding to go into public history and refusing to be associated with the University anymore “purely because of the gender imbalance.”
A graduate student in sociology at the University reported “inappropriate touching, jokes of a sexual nature, explicit or offensive comments about women” from a fellow student, who was suspended for a year as a result. The entry noted that the individual still finished his Ph.D a year early despite the suspension and now has a tenure-track job. The victim, on the other hand, left campus and worked remotely, according to the survey.
“I lost faith in academia. I do not trust universities to look out for our best interest,” reads the entry. “I feel like I did everything right (reporting, waiting for the process) and it didn't matter … I don't trust anyone to be safe. I don't want academia any more.”
A different entry from a graduate student in sociology at the University noted that her professor was helpful until she mentioned she had a boyfriend, at which point “his tone changed entirely.” She also mentioned that male advisors only invited male students for dinner or drinks.
A full professor wrote that another full professor kissed her on the mouth as she was leaving a University dinner celebration for the publication of his memoir. The incident was not reported.
The document also cites two incidents that took place at other institutions involving a University professor who came onto a second year graduate student at a George Washington University workshop, and a University graduate student who stalked an undergraduate at UT Austin.