Colorado’s Troubles in The Chronicle (several updates)
Today’s Chronicle of Higher Education has a long article (may be paywalled) on the University of Colorado Department of Philosophy’s issues with sexual misconduct and climate for women, with remarks from people inside and outside the department.
They wanted to help solve their field’s longstanding problems over the treatment of women and find ways to improve the climate on their own campus. But instead, the philosophy department’s decision to invite an outside review has left it struggling to survive after the investigators concluded it was rife with “inappropriate, sexualized unprofessional behavior.”…
Philosophy professors worry that the reaction to the review—completed last fall by a panel of the American Philosophical Association’s Committee on the Status of Women—may now destroy the department. Even the head of that national committee says Boulder’s philosophers are right to be concerned. “I don’t expect a department that has a deeply cold climate for women, and has had for years, to be able to clean it up in a year and without a fair amount of pain,” says Hilde Lindemann, a philosophy professor at Michigan State University. “But I dare say they are fighting for their lives.”…
The three female philosophers who visited Boulder early last fall as part of the review interviewed professors, students, and administrators. The committee issued its scathing 15-page report in November. It said that women had filed 15 complaints with the university’s Office of Discrimination and Harassment since 2007 and that female graduate students reported feeling anxious and demoralized. Many incidents of alleged harassment, the report said, occurred off campus and after hours while faculty members and graduate students socialized over alcohol. Female faculty members reported working from home to avoid their male colleagues.
Almost no one here recognized the portrait of the department.
Six women with ties to the department, including the tenured female philosophers, issued a statement earlier this year saying that harassment and discrimination were the exception at Boulder, not the rule. “We are all distressed,” they said, “that the report may damage the reputations of male colleagues who are completely innocent of sexual misconduct.”
Now, almost a year after the site visit, the department still feels like it is “in the fog of war,” says Michael E. Zimmerman, a professor of philosophy who came here eight years ago from Tulane University after Hurricane Katrina. The tension and stress of working here is one of the reasons Mr. Zimmerman says he plans to retire at the end of this academic year.
The article recounts several key events over the past year or so.
First, last fall, the university suspended Robert Hanna for a semester without pay after he was accused of sending sexually explicit emails propositioning both a female faculty member and a female graduate student, professors here say…. Then last winter, [Dan] Kaufman told the department’s interim chairman, J. Andrew Cowell, a joke that university officials considered threatening…. This academic year, the university has targeted two associate professors of philosophy: David Barnett and Bradley Monton. It is investigating Mr. Monton for allegations that he violated the university’s policy prohibiting faculty members from having romantic relationships with students they supervise…. The university has charged Mr. Barnett with retaliating against a female graduate student in the department who said a male graduate student sexually assaulted her.
There has been controversy over how some of the cases have been handled by the University’s Office of Discrimination and Harassment (ODH). Barnett was looking into the way that the ODH was handling sexual assault charges against one of the department’s students:
“It is a case of egregious, widespread, and systematic misrepresentation of evidence in order to bias an investigation in favor of a conclusion that is clearly not supported by the totality of evidence,” Mr. Barnett said in an email message to university officials.
The article also details some of the measures the department has taken to address these matters, including an articulation of “best practices,” as well as some of the consequences of those measures. Just recently the university announced that graduate admissions in philosophy would resume.
UPDATE: Robert Hanna, who was named in the article as being “accused of sending sexually explicit emails propositioning both a female faculty member and a female graduate student” has posted a reply on his Academia.edu website. He accuses those who revealed his name to the Chronicle’s reporter as “in violation of CU confidentiality rules.” Among other things, he adds:
I want to say something about genuine free speech, i.e., telling the unvarnished moral truth about the things that really matter to us, as opposed to bogus “free speech,” i.e., politically correct bullshit, i.e., saying only what the people who possess coercive power want to you to say.Over the last several years, genuine free speech on certain topics of great cultural, political, &moral importance has been almost entirely suppressed in the CU Philosophy Department & at CU more generally, by those who possess coercive power, which I think is a very bad thing for all of us. Indeed, it’s highly reminiscent of what happened during the infamous McCarthy era. I won’t go into the Ward Churchill or Patti Adler cases, although they’re good examples of what I’m talking about. Instead, I’m thinking specifically about the CU administration’s clearly arbitrary & immoral treatment of three of my CU Philosophy Department colleagues, Dan Kaufman, Brad Monton, & Dave Barnett, just because they said some joking, true, or rationally critical things that people in the CU administration didn’t want to hear, or have said out loud. Good news about re-opening graduate admissions does not erase the wrongs done to Kaufman, Monton, & Barnett.
As for me, well, even though I’ve been sent to the wall by good old CU, I’ve also got two bigger things on my mind:(i) how North American universities, with the help of scandal-mongering media, arbitrarily & immorally regulate the love-lives of academic people; & (ii) the deeply flawed conception of social & political life presupposed by this.
UPDATE 2: Philodaria at Feminist Philosophers has a post replying to part of Hanna’s essay. Some of these issues have been discussed here, before. See, for example, “What’s a well-intentioned single guy to do?”
UPDATE 3: In his reply, Hanna directs readers to a piece he authored entitled “Sexual McCarthyism, Polyamory, and the First Amendment,” in which he claims that sexual harassment policies are being used as “weapons” by universities against the polyamorous. The Philosophers’ Ethical Non-Monogamy Alliance responds to Hanna here.
“… bogus “free speech,” i.e., politically correct bullshit … it’s highly reminiscent of what happened during the infamous McCarthy era …”
With “replies” like this, who even needs to make the original argument?Report
I think this will be clear to most readers, but just in case I would like to point out that if an interaction between two or more persons is not consensual, it is not a part of your love life.Report
Well, at least the guy has a sense humor. If, as chararity requires, one should all else equal assume rationality (and all else is equal here, right??!), sections 1-4 and 7-5 of this are pure comedic gold: https://www.academia.edu/8858766/Sexual_McCarthyism_Polyamory_and_the_First_AmendmentReport
If Hanna did send to colleagues or students emails with personal content presumably not covered by confidentiality rules, how could the disclosure of his name as the sender be “in violation of CU confidentiality rules”?Report
I really don’t get the whole “emails are confidential” thing. If I sent someone an email (or, for that matter, a registered letter stamped all over with ‘confidential’) saying “Hey, let’s rob a bank together!” I could in no way complain about them revealing it when we get tried for robbing a bank. Similarly with threats, harassment, ransom notes, etc. There is, of course, an informal moral rule that when a friend reveals personal information and asks you to keep it secret, you should keep it secret. Are these people seriously thinking that when they proposition someone of lower status it’s morally equivalent to a friend admitting a personal problem? Like, “Oh, I probably shouldn’t admit this to you, friend, but I have this terrible personal problem of wanting to get in your pants. Please don’t tell anyone.” Seriously? That sounds like classic grooming behavior on the part of a predator.Report
Amy, if you read his paper he links to in his reply, you’ll find that this may be closer to truth than parody. For example, he writes, “In professional academics, we are now, sadly, in an era of sexual McCarthyism. . . Notice how the phrase “sexual harassment” sounds a lot like “sexual assault” and non-rationally evokes the same moral disgust as the latter phrase, even though the phrases actually mean very different things. But the non-rational emotional association with the ugly phrase “sexual assault” is no doubt precisely why the sexual McCarthyites chose the equally ugly phrase “sexual harassment,” and not, e.g., “romantic relationship troubles.” Indeed, sexual McCarthyites like to talk about “victims” of “sexual harassment precisely because in fact there are no such people as “victims” of romantic relationship troubles–there are just people in all their multifarious peculiarity, having the all-too-familiar romantic relationship troubles with each other — but they want to evoke, non-rationally, the impression that there are such victims.” https://www.academia.edu/8858766/Sexual_McCarthyism_Polyamory_and_the_First_AmendmentReport
*Oh!* I’m so glad he ‘splained to me all about what sexual harassment really is. I was so confused! lolReport
One might guess that Hanna is saying that the revelation of his earlier suspension is in violation of the University of Colorado’s rules about the confidentiality of such personnel matters. I do not know what confidentiality rules about such matters exist at the University of Colorado. At the various universities I have worked such matters are covered by confidentiality rules.Report
Except that he complains, “Today my name was named in an article….” This naming could have happened in reference to the alleged behavior, not the suspension that followed. Presumably, his complaint isn’t limited to being named explicitly in connection with the suspension.Report
Again, I don’t know the University of Colorado’s detailed confidentiality rules. If however, they are similar to the rules at Universities where I have taught then the confidentiality rules would apply both to the decision to suspend him and to the basis of the complaint leading to the suspension. In this case that basis presumably includes the emails discussed in the story if I understand what has been reported correctly.
Are the confidentiality rules different at your University? Are they known to be different at Colorado?Report
At my university (in the U.S.), there are no “confidentiality rules” protecting the senders of unsolicited email with regard to personal content. Nor do I believe there should be. Were a colleague to send me emails proposing that we start sleeping together during a romantic getaway, for example, I would be free to disclose his or her identity as the sender — even if these emails were later the basis of a harassment complaint (though I might be bound not to explicitly name the sender as the target of a now-formal complaint). I would be surprised to learn that this is non-standard in the U.S.Report
I feel it’s worthwhile to describe the context of my quote in the Chronicle article. The direct quote is accurate, but the context suggests that I was only commenting on the “focus” given to sexual harassment, and – some have taken it to mean – not the sexual harassment itself. I was actually commenting on the total situation in the department, and was quite clear that sexual harassment has indeed been a problem. I do think it needs to be addressed and redressed, but I think the focus must be on specific incidents and individuals. Instead, the emphasis has been on “climate,” a nebulous term that insinuates collective guilt, invites collective punishment, and – worst of all, in my opinion – downplays individual responsibility. All of these developments have contributed to a dismal atmosphere and distracted both men and women from doing philosophy.
Respectfully, the term “climate” by itself does not insinuate “collective guilt,” does not “invite collective punishment,” and does not “downplay individual responsibility.” I am very familiar with a department that had a climate problem among grad students: no one, students or faculty, seemed to believe that acknowledging a “climate” problem signals any of the things you suggest.Report
I am sorry your philosophical education has been inconvenienced and contaminated by these issues. It seems to me you should be seriously pissed off at the people who are to blame for the interruption – that is, the harassers and their apologists who made the department unlivable for many of your female colleagues and a messy embarrasment for the rest of you. Please consider directing your anger appropriately.
Wow, what a demeaning comment.
You’re right, Rebecca, no harm caused to a man in a situation like this could ever be more than an ‘inconvenience.’ How petty of Spencer to be worried that innocent people might now be more likely to be suspected of being sexual harassers. He’s clearly just pouting because his boys club got broken up, right!
And you’re right that, if innocent people do get blamed, say, because the people doing the investigation didn’t do their due diligence, or misrepresented the facts, or employed a deeply flawed methodology, then the only people to be upset with are the actual sexual harassers who prompted the investigation in the first place. We couldn’t possibly be justified in being upset with a site visit team, since, if you’re trying to root out sexual harassment, then you are above reproach, no matter what means you take to accomplish it.
And, just to be clear, the fact that Spencer has qualms about the site visit team and their recommendations obviously indicates that he can’t also be ‘pissed off’ with the sexual harassers in the department themselves. After all, if you question those charged with investigating sexual harassment, that means that you must be an advocate of harassment, and must secretly support those who do it.Report
This is a question for Spencer Case. For some reason, I’m not getting a button to direct or nest my reply.
In the CHE article, Mitzi Lee mentions that one way the department is moving forward is to stop excusing bad behaviour as “just so-and-so” doing his thing. It seems to me that that’s clearly a way in which everyone can help shut down harassers. Do you agree? And if so, would you consider that focussing on specific incidences and individuals, and therefore, appropriate for the department to address! I would have called it addressing climate, but if we’re in agreement that that sort of sheltering of harassers needs to stop, then I don’t much care what it’s called.Report
This post seems to me to make Spencer’s point. When we say that there is a climate problem somewhere, that implies that many people (at the very least, a majority of those with some power) are guilty. They might not all be guilty of the alleged crimes, but they are at least guilty of knowing that the crimes were going on and failing to take appropriate steps to stop them. That’s the difference between saying ‘There are 3 bad actors in this department’ and ‘This department has a bad climate’ — the latter implies that others in power in the department knowingly allowed the bad conduct to occur, the former does not.
Now, if it is the case that at Colorado lots of people in power were allowing these things to happen, then saying that there is a bad climate is correct, and it would be wrong to present the problem simply as one of individual bad actors. But if that’s not the case (which, I take it, is what Spencer is claiming, and what the faculty members quoted in the CHE meant when they said that they ‘didn’t recognize’ the portrayal of the department in the climate report), then it is wrong to label it as a climate problem, because it implies that more people have done wrong than actually have. Obviously, I have no way of knowing what was actually going on there. But it strikes me as just false to say that talking about problems in terms of climate does not imply any more collective guilt (at least collective for some portion of the members of the department) than talking about individuals. It does.
That being said, I’ve just learned from Matt that saying this makes me a ‘conservative.’ And being a conservative, of course, invalidates anything one has to say.Report
Hi, I’m the Anon in #16. I’m not sure I understand why you think my comment makes Spencer’s point. I agree with you that there’s a difference between saying “there’s 3 bad actors” and “this department has a climate problem”. But I was specifically addressing the comment in the article by Mitzi Lee saying that “they” need to quit excusing the known bad behaviour. (I wish I could go check the exact quotation, but the article seems to be paywalled again). It sounds to me that at least she was claiming that some subset of the department (herself included) knew that at least one colleague was a harasser and that their tack was to warn potential victims rather stop the harasser. I don’t know how that sits with the faculty not recognizing the site visit depiction, but given that CU invited the visit, it may be part of why they extended that invitation.
But, if a subset of the faculty had a habit of ignoring and/or excusing a known harasser, it’s easy to see how someone like Spencer Case might not know about it: maybe it’s the kind of comment that faculty only said to one another, not in front of graduate students. Or if it was issued as a warning to potential victims, that message may have only been delivered to women in the department.
I think, in general, people underestimate how pervasive certain problems can be and still be truly out of sight for some people. Think back in school how easy it was for there to be things going on that all the kids knew about but that the teachers were totally unaware of. Bad actors use natural pockets of opacity to keep their game going.
I agree with Case that the blame needs to be focussed on the harassers. If you’ve got some theft going on in your neighborhood at night, the blame is on those thieves. But asking everyone to turn their porch lights on isn’t casting blame on all the porch owners or saying that they are complicit with the theft. It’s just a way to make it harder for the bad actors to hide their game.Report
It’s more enlightening to read Spencer Case’s CHE quote within the context of his views on other related issues:
In particular, this article: http://www.nationalreview.com/article/380716/gender-academy-spencer-caseReport
I have to say, it’s pretty darn brave of him to put that essay online. Philosophy needs people like that.Report
Brave for what reason? There’s little evidence that anti-feminists or critics of feminism or feminist philosophy have trouble getting employed in philosophy. There’s also no lack of prominent voices in philosophy that are critical of things like the Site Visit program.Report
The views expressed by Case are not the kinds of views that will make you friends in philosophy; I know enough philosophers in enough departments that I feel pretty confident in making that claim. Maybe expressing such views won’t prevent you from getting a job (one would hope it wouldn’t!), but it’s still brave to express views that are considered by many philosophers to be (let’s face it) naive and misguided at best, and downright immoral at worst.Report
Ben, by your definition, then, it’s very brave to express any feminist views publicly.Report
Okay Ben, that’s fair enough. Anecdotally, I think you’re right that there aren’t too many Buckley-style conservatives in philosophy. And there’s definitely an impression (one that I think is probably false) that such views damage a person’s market potential). So, sure, maybe there’s a certain bravery involved.Report
Rachel, well, I think it depends on what the particular views expressed are. There are plenty of feminist views that are completely mainstream (e.g. that it is wrong to discriminate against women), but there are also feminist positions that will make you unpopular. I have no problems agreeing with you that there are feminists who are brave in the same way Case is brave.Report
Right, and I think the fact that Spencer Case writes for the National Review probably goes a way toward getting at why he’s not quite understanding what’s going on when people talk about climate. He writes that talk of climate invites talk of collective guilt and collective punishment. And I take him at his word. I believe he sincerely holds that view. And talk of climate *does* invite those things…if you begin from the starting assumptions someone who writes for the National Review is likely to start from (i.e., a politically conservative worldview descended from folks like Buckley, Goldwater, and Thatcher). If that’s not your starting point, of course, talk of climate does no such thing.Report
Senior male philosopher in prominent philosophy department is (rightly or wrongly) outed in the press as being put on unpaid leave for “sending sexually explicit emails propositioning both a female faculty member and a graduate student,” which, if true, is textbook sexual harassment. His response? To write a self-serving screed in which he actually claims that there is no such thing as sexual harassment, and therefore no such thing as victims of sexual harassment. (don’t worry, though, there’s still rape, and we all know that’s a real no-no). As for the rest of his sexual behavior (welcome or not), it’s all just “romance” as far as he can tell, and we the mob, the witch hunters, the McCarthyites, are just out to mess with his personal love life, which is of course a sacred space of freedom for *him*. Therefore he, senior male philosopher, is the true victim of (surprise!) the irrational mob and its collective prudery. We are stomping on his sexual freedoms! The real problem is all those women who just use sexual harassment as a “weapon,” aided by a climate of fear that is aimed at punishing men like him.
This really just happened in the world of professional philosophy. It’s not satire or self-parody, he’s not being facetious or ironic. He is actually quite serious (and seething with righteous anger–he’s important after all, look at all his research leave!). He’s so serious, in fact, that he wrote a (serious?) “essay” on the topic that he suggests we all “widely share.” And, as we have seen from other recent, high profile cases, he is hardly alone in his ideas about who the true victims are and what the real problems are in professional philosophy (hint: the real victims are not women who are subject to unwanted sexual advances from colleagues, that’s for sure!).
Lately, I’ve learned from prominent philosophers that its OK to threaten, intimidate, and belittle female members of the profession, and its ok to sexually proposition them too (either to make them smarter, or just because, you know, you want to). And to say otherwise is to contribute to a climate of irrational fear, the suppression of free speech, and in general, to behave in a mob-like, hysterical way.
And then people wonder why women aren’t itching to join philosophy departments. Huh, I wonder.Report
I agree with everything, but I think (if I read you correctly – I might be mistaken), I would not put RH’s appalling paper (and presumably behavior) into the same bag as BL’s controversial email/online behavior (esp. as BL has been on the forefront against people like RH). I think these are two very different cases and though one might be outraged by both of them, they should not be put anywhere close to each other.Report
Hanna’s essay and comments are just draw dropping. Regarding Barnett, I’m reserving judgement, though what the media reports describe seems highly inappropriate.
But I can’t help but be struck by the difference in sanctions of the two. Hanna was apparently found to actually be harassing two different people in his department, and was given a cone of silence and a one semester unpaid suspension (while he was off doing paid research elsewhere anyway? Do I have that right?). Barnett’s actions might also constitute harassment (but might not), but he’s splashed all over the papers and moved on for dismissal. Why the difference? It seems like garden-variety skeeving on people is still largely being protected.
Maybe it’s because the Hanna sanctions happened back in the long ago mists-of-time of last year.Report
Retaliation is a form of harassment under the law. Retaliating in a case of sexual assault is quite serious business. I do not mean to suggest a one semester suspension is a sufficient sanction–only that this phrase, “Barnett’s actions might also constitute harassment (but might not)” does not seem to be an apt description.Report
In saying that Barnett’s actions might or might not constitute harassment, I meant only to refer to the fact that, unlike Hanna, the case against him is still open. I realize that that was not clear from my post, but I am well aware that retaliation constitutes harassment, both legally, and IMO, morally.
But to try to be clearer: I’m not comfortable trying to decide what sorts of harassment might be more or less egregious for someone else or in general. But the sanctions leveled against Hanna and proposed against Barnett are, to me, strikingly different in their severity. In my least charitable mood, it feels like CU is OK with a slap on the wrist for a serial harasser, and only wakes up when big bucks are at stake, as in the Barnett case. Does someone have a more informed explanation?Report
I don’t want to disagree with anything you’ve just said, I just wasn’t clear about what you were saying in your earlier comment.Report
Alas, Fugazi’s “Suggestion” is evergreen.Report
Why give airtime to this person?Report
I mean: It’s great and all that Bob Hanna thinks that serial sexual harassment is actually just his girlfriends complaining about their consensual relationship (or his mere “attempts at” a consensual relationship) and the evil academic-industrial complex then trying to ruin his life, but I know many of the women (who knows how many there actually are) who have been harassed, some over long-ish periods of time, by this man. Reading those things that he wrote first made me extremely angry, and then made me genuinely feel like dying. And he didn’t even do this stuff to me. It doesn’t seem particularly sensitive to his victims, to me, to have this stuff in the public sphere. Of course he can make an effort to put it there, but I’m not sure we should even grace it with the dignity of discussion.Report
Hell, I’m not even sure we should grace it with the dignity of discussion just because it’s so ridiculous and should be such an obvious parody of itself that it simply does not warrant serious engagement. That’s before we even get to the sorts of contextual issues you’re concerned about.Report
It’s an important problem to address in the field. He’s digging his own grave (metaphorically!).
We can and should do better.Report
A comment was recently submitted on this thread with a fake email address. I would consider publishing the comment but cannot simply post anonymous accusations from unknown parties. I do not reveal the identity of anonymous posters, so if you care to follow up about this please email me at [email protected]. Update: further anonymous comments saying “come on” or “just trust me” or “have some cojones” are amusing but will not do the trick, sorry.Report
Justin: but you are ok with someone (i.e., 31) making ominous accusations such as ” I know many of the women (who knows how many there actually are) who have been harassed, some over long-ish periods of time, by this man.” ?Report
While the comment you refer to was posted anonymously, the commenter supplied an identifying, accurate email address and is, in my opinion, trustworthy. So yes, I am ok with that. And just to forestall further discussion of the matter, let me say right now that I am not going to get involved in questions about how I make judgments regarding evidence and trustworthiness here. I try to be fair-minded, I am open to criticism, but I just don’t have the time to discuss it.Report
anon faculty member: I wrote comment 31. I used a real email address and Justin knows who I am and that I am stating true things. Thanks.Report
Anonymous #17 (I don’t have a link to reply directly): you say, “When we say that there is a climate problem somewhere, that implies that many people (at the very least, a majority of those with some power) are guilty. They might not all be guilty of the alleged crimes, but they are at least guilty of knowing that the crimes were going on and failing to take appropriate steps to stop them.” That is not at all the implication of the claim that there is a climate problem. Even if we limit our focus to one phenomenon, implicit bias, it is very possible for there to be a chilly climate for certain people even if *nobody* meets the standard of responsible agency in perpetuating that climate. Obviously, we would have to debate what counts as agency, but I think most people believe behavior directly caused by implicit bias is not in itself full-blooded action. (Of course, once we know implicit bias exists and we are prone to it, we may have a responsibility to do something about it, but that’s a separate subject). At any rate, one can perfectly coherently claim that a climate is chilly and that there are only a minority of people in power in that climate who are deliberately choosing to act badly.Report
This is the anon of #17 above. Thanks for the clarification, Amy. I think that position is consistent, but I’m not sure that I buy it. It strikes me that if I am, because of implicit biases, doing/saying/allowing things that harm women (by making a ‘chilly’ climate for them), then I am responsible for those things, even if I didn’t intend to or didn’t realize I was doing them. I’m responsible because I have a standing responsibility not to let my actions influenced by biases like these, or at least to do whatever I can to eliminate the biases. The fact that the behaviors originate in implicit bias would lessen my degree of responsibility, I think, but it wouldn’t eliminate it completely.
Also, it strikes me that there is a big difference between a climate being ‘chilly’ for women and a climate being one of rampant sexual harassment (as it is claimed that Colorado was). The latter is much more than ‘chilly’ and unwelcoming, and it strikes me as fairly implausible that implicit bias alone could result in a climate like that. More to the point: if someone heard a report that ‘University X has a climate of rampant sexual harassment’, then one would very likely assume that something worse than implicit bias is the cause of it.Report
But you do realize that there is a problem here – namely, deciding for the readers which anonymous sources of highly (!) incriminating charges are trustworthy?Report
I want to say something about genuine free speech, i.e., telling the unvarnished moral truth about the things that really matter to us, as opposed to bogus “free speech,” i.e., politically acquiescent, subservient bullshit, ever-concessive to the demand that we “be reasonable,” that we uphold the highest most straight-laced straight-faced tightly wound norms of “professionalism” possible, that we never ever “name names” even behind closed doors and amongst ourselves, that we never allow our anger to show, even as we bend over backwards to make room for our harassers’ apparent “freedom to harass” — i.e., saying only what the people who possess coercive power want you to say…Report
At this point, I should not any longer be amazed. But I am. It continues to amaze me that there are still philosophers who do not recognize sexual harassment when they see it (or do it) and/or don’t understand what’s wrong with it.
Let’s get some (not at all exhaustive) basics out of the way: your students are not your dating pool. Your undergrads are not your dating pool. Your grad students are not your dating pool. Any student enrolled in your program is strictly off-limits, dating-wise, whether or not they are presently enrolled in your course or advised by you. Got it? Good, now go set up your online dating profile and find some nice non-philosopher to spend your time with, ANYONE really, so long as they aren’t your f*&E)*#(@*#$*@_!ing student.
And no, I don’t give a shit that so-and-so and so-and-so met when he was a professor and she was his student and look how happy they are. *this is not the 1960s or the 70s or the 80s or even the 90s* When the very few women in philosophy are constantly sexualized and propositioned by the very men who are meant to help them become philosophers or by the people who are meant to be their professional colleagues, it is demoralizing (“do they really like my paper? Or are they just flirting with me?”) and exhausting (“how can I deflect this romantic interest without hurting their feelings? will they still talk to me?”) It is a major reason women leave this field. It’s also a major reason many women philosophers avoid socializing with philosophers at parties, at bars or over drinks.Report
“Any student enrolled in your program is strictly off-limits, dating-wise, whether or not they are presently enrolled in your course or advised by you.”
I assume that this is the policy you would like every department to have. It is the policy at some departments but certainly not all. Apparently not everyone agrees that this is an example of the “basics” we need to all understand. Should harassment charges be filed against faculty in situations where they engage in relationships that their universities permit? Should informal shaming occur?
Also, why stop with the 90s when saying you don’t care about those relationships? There are plenty of happy couples from the 00s and 10s as well who began relationships when one was a professor and the other a student.Report
And there are plenty of people who drive over the speed limit without getting into any accidents. Should we abolish speed limits or not give these people tickets? I really don’t see the significance of pointing to happy prof/student relationships in arguments about this.Report
I thought that whether the relationships were problematic is what was in dispute. The claim was that it is “part of the basics” that “any student in your program is off limits” for dating. This is not “part of the basics” as evidenced by many universities accepting no such rule.
Why do they not accept the proposed rule? In part because there seem to be many cases of unproblematic relationships of this sort. Do you agree that such happy relationships provide some evidence that the proposed rule is too broad?
Do you think that the happy couples should all be given speeding tickets? (sanctions? censure?).Report
“Let’s get some (not at all exhaustive) basics out of the way: your students are not your dating pool. Your undergrads are not your dating pool. Your grad students are not your dating pool. Any student enrolled in your program is strictly off-limits, dating-wise, whether or not they are presently enrolled in your course or advised by you. Got it?”
If the main issue re Hanna is supposed to be about sexual harassment, decrees about dating seem orthogonal. Preoccupation with dating, in this context, suggests that the lines between any expression of romantic interest, dating, and sexual harassment are naturally very blurry. Ironically, Hanna shares this perspective — obviously to different effect.
The main issues in the broadly sexual domain at CU, as far as outsiders know, concern sexual harassment, sexual assault, and retaliation in response. Harassment and assault are not natural precursors or risks of attempting to date. The issue of faculty-faculty, faculty-grad, faculty-undergrad, and grad-grad dating really should be kept out of this.Report
Regarding relations with students and colleagues, and political correctness. We all live with certain norms of responsibility. I may want to ask X on a date, but don’t because I am married. I may want to tell a certain joke, but choose to tell my best friend instead of a stranger. I may want to wear a Metallica t-shirt, or greet people casually, but I do neither because I work in a bank. Etc.
Certain well-documented problems for harassment victims and women exist in the current environment, and because of those we are now in the process of having a new responsibility, same as those others I mentioned, that many of us already live by, about the relative permissiveness of pursuing certain relationships. Nobody is holding a gun to anyone’s head and forcing them to have a cushy, tenure-track job, just like nobody has to be married (from example above.) If you leave the profession, and then exist outside of the current academic culture of harassment and victim-blaming, I dare say you could probably ask a professor or college girl on a date, or complain about some girl in certain fora, and there would be no “politically correct bullshit” against you on the internet.
What the anti-PC, “McCarthyism” claims sound like-to me-are “I want the benefits of being a professor but not the responsibilities.” Even if the PC police were commanding personal lives in exactly the same manner as McCarthyism, it would not be the same as McCarthyism because we have the option of leaving the profession and not having our personal life policed in such a manner (btw I am being extremely charitable…the “what it’s like” blog has helped to show exactly how much policing is going on…not much.) Victims of the actual McCarthyism did not have this option.Report
“Regarding relations with students and colleagues, and political correctness. We all live with certain norms of responsibility.” Are you suggesting that professors shouldn’t date their colleagues? By these light, can graduate students date *their* colleagues (i.e., other graduate students in the same program)?Report
To echo ‘a different anon grad”s excellent point: to be a professional philosopher these days is, almost without exception, to also be a pedagogue of some sort. And to be a pedagogue is to engage with students. If you can’t engage with students without trying to fuck them, you have no right being a pedagogue.Report
I find the recurring practice of making anonymous, highly incriminating statements about the behavior of people very disturbing. The readers of these blogs have no way of verifying these accusations, but everybody knows that something is gonna stick no matter what. And please do not make the mistake that it is only (in this case) Hanna that will remain tainted. I have heard from several people since yesterday that whenever they see a collection edited by Hanna, they will automatically wonder about the contributors.Report
I agree with your general point regarding the making of anonymous accusations. I’m curious, though. What will they wonder about the contributors? Whether they were harassed? Whether they are harassers? I really can’t imagine what Hanna editing a volume to which you contributed could possibly say about you.Report
I have to confess that I find Hanna’s own postings far more “tainting” than anonymous accusations on this blog that he has harassed women (particularly given what is already in the CHE article).Report
(1) Who here has made any accusations that weren’t already made in the CHE article? (2) If what you say in your last sentence is actually true, those people are being silly, and in my own people-I-have-heard-from-since-yesterday anecdotal experience, they’re not at all the norm.Report
Yeah, well, it’s a sorry state of affairs. One should think twice before collaborating with someone of that repute (and yes, many people have known about Hanna’s ways for years). A woman propositioned by Hanna with a sexual quid pro quo has two bad options. Perhaps this goes to show that taking the option of declining the quid pro quo and risking blowback is the more prudent as well as the more ethical choice.Report
Just to be clear, I am not aware of any evidence that Hanna propositioned anyone “with a sexual quid pro quo.” Enough on that topic, and enough trying to lead the discussion towards blaming those harassed.Report
If Hanna thought that his “reply” (and links) would answer any critics and draw a line under this, it seems to have done the opposite. My question: will there be a “response to the reply” (and perhaps a “rejoinder to the response to the reply” and so on)?Report