James Murphy (not Tooley) on “The Colorado Sex Scandal” (corrected & updated)


CORRECTION: It appears that, contrary to what I initially posted, Professor Tooley did not write the report mentioned in this post. I was provided a link to the report by a source who prefers to remain anonymous, was told it was by Tooley, and it is hosted on Tooley’s site. However, according to this page, the author of the report is one James Murphy. My apologies to both Professor Tooley and to James Murphy for this mistake. I have edited the post to correct this.

UPDATE (12/17/14): Since some have asked, let me say that I do not know who James Murphy is (this letter,also posted on Tooley’s site, suggests that he is or had been unknown to at least some members of the CU philosophy department, too). Professor Tooley informs me that “James Murphy” is not a pseudonym of his. Nor, contrary to this comment, do we have any reason to believe that the James Murphy in question is the James Murphy of LCD Soundsystem.

UPDATE 2 (12/17/14): I would like to note that the document that’s the subject of this post (at least the original version, which has been removed from the Professor Tooley’s website and is reportedly being revised) is, it seems, authored by someone who is using a pseudonym. That is one’s prerogative of course, but I don’t think it is unreasonable to be somewhat more cautious in accepting controversial claims when they are made anonymously (cet. par.). For example, the document contains an accusation about the members of the APA CSW site visit team that, as far as I know, are not only unsubstantiated but also have been explicitly denied by those involved with the site visit. Specifically, the document contains the accusation that the site visit team broke a “confidentiality promise” to the department when it provided a copy of its report to CU Dean Steven Leigh and Provost Russell Moore. Yet members of the site visit team have said that they were directly told that Dean Leigh, Provost Moore, and Chair Forbes had jointly commissioned their report, and as far as I know there is no reason to doubt this.

(Let me add that I initially found the document newsworthy because I was under the mistaken impression that it had been authored by a member of the department who had personally witnessed the events at Colorado, who, in virtue of that, could provide some insight into them, and who would take responsibility for making the claims, clarifying and defending them as needed. Had I realized it was a document authored by an unknown someone outside of the department, it would have not received this kind of publicity.)


University of Colorado professor of philosophy Michael Tooley James Murphy has written a 12-page report entitled “The Colorado Sex Scandal: How Ideology, Incompetence, and Abuse of Power Ruined a Great Department,” hosted on University of Colorado professor of philosophy Michael Tooley’s website (note: this part of Tooley’s site is currently down, and there is a note here explaining that the document is being revised). In it, he recounts the various events at Colorado that have been discussed here and elsewhere, occasionally with some new details, and provides background commentary on the approach of the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights (OCR) to Title IX enforcement and how he takes sexual misconduct to be viewed and treated in academia. He interprets many of the recent relevant actions by the CU administration to be designed to “create publicity supporting their intended ‘national leader’ image” on Title IX issues and “to deflect blame away from themselves” (p.2) He also complains about the lack of due process protections for the accused in campus sexual misconduct proceedings.

Tooley Murphy claims that the university threatened to “shut down the entire department, firing everyone” following the 2013 site visit by a team from the American Philosophical Association’s (APA) Committee on the Status of Women, and “has maintained the ‘shut down’ threat since then, but with the conditions for dissolving the department left vague, so that department members are left in a general state of fear concerning anything that might displease the administration” (p.6). The local chapter of the AAUP investigated and reported that the administration’s tactics “perpetuate a climate of fear and disregard for the academic freedom and due process protections of faculty at the University of Colorado” (p.7).

Below I reproduce the penultimate section (pp.11-12) of Murphy’s report on what he takes the “long term consequences” of these events to be for Colorado’s department of philosophy.

Tooley excerpt 1

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Carnap
Carnap
6 years ago

Tooley is, I think, a brave person. I admire him.Report

FedUpGradStudent
FedUpGradStudent
6 years ago

I doubt very much that Prof. Tooley will read the comments here, but just in case he does: The first time I heard that the environment at Colorado was one that women might want to be wary of, or would have reason to be concerned by, was years before the site visit report was made public (years before 2011, too). I was an undergraduate at the time, attending a conference, discussing with some other students our plans after graduation. I have heard many things about your department in the years since then, some of which have been confirmed by the news over the last few months. I am sure I am not alone. What is doing the most damage to the reputation of the program in mind, are insensitive and unaware responses by members within that community. Has your administration acted badly? It certainly seems so. But that doesn’t justify responding in this way. It is, quite frankly, offensive to suggest that irreparable harm has been done to the reputations of alleged harassers (among other things). How many senior philosophers in departments elsewhere have been rumored to be serial harassers for years without censure, without harm to their careers, without harm to the scholarly respect the discipline at large has bestowed on them? Moreover, what of those philosophers who have been found responsible for alleged misconduct and moved from one institution to the next? What of the irreparable harm done to alleged victims?

For the rest of you at Colorado who have not responded in this way, but have rather shown a commitment to equity, diversity, and a determination to attempt to create a supportive and healthy educational environment for all, my sympathy and thanks go out to you.Report

FedUpGradStudent
FedUpGradStudent
6 years ago

Also worth noting, I was going to fact check his references, and the first one I looked at (Notre Dame) was incorrect. What Tooley references is not the sexual assault policy. It is from the office of alcohol and drug education. Their actual assault policy is available here: http://dulac.nd.edu/community-standards/important/#smReport

BrokePhilosopher
BrokePhilosopher
6 years ago

While Prof. Tooley brings up some very valid and worthwhile points about the lack of due process and the concern for procedural justice that we ought to have (both at UC Boulder in particular and throughout academia in general), I strongly disagree with his assertion that disciplinary committees at universities are biased against defendants, especially in sexual assault cases. If this were true, one would expect that the actual number of students and faculty disciplined for sexual assault would be significantly higher than the mere 1% it actually is (http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2014/12/college-campus-rape-sexual-assault-stats-rolling-stone-uva).Report

AnonymousX
AnonymousX
6 years ago

Tooley seems (to me) to be saying those things to which he personally attaches minimal hostility (a trolley/Hitler joke, a comment at a party, a criticism of an administration, and so on) should be kept within a certain perspective, but at the same time those things to which he personally attaches lots of hostility (the three internet comments referenced) should be seen indicative of a bad atmosphere.

By my mind, it is more realistic to think of offended parties as all having the same basic feelings of fear, self-preservation, etc. It seems to me Tooley and others think of their own jobs, their own social standing, etc. when they read certain comments on (say) Feminist Philosophers, in part because they relate to the (sometimes hypothetical) people on trial in those comments. But if that’s right, I think it should be easy to see some other person might feel similar fears of self-preservation when they hear “I will fuck with X” at a party, in part because that other person may relate to X and to X’s experiences in the world.Report

Plouffe
Plouffe
6 years ago

FedUp: I am unsure what is the mistake you are alleging that Tooley has made. He does not claim to be citing the sexual assault policy. What he quotes is exactly what is found on the ND webpage:

http://oade.nd.edu/educate-yourself-alcohol/hookups/sexual-assault/Report

Another Grad Student
Another Grad Student
6 years ago

Why would one expect that? Only, I think, if significantly more than 1% of sexual assault cases are brought to the attention of the disciplinary committees. But the source cited on that article says, in figure 5-9, that less than 1% of the victims in their sample reported filing a grievance with their university.Report

FedUpGradStudent
FedUpGradStudent
6 years ago

He doesn’t just quote it. He claims that this is how Notre Dame defines assault, and in the context of discussing how universities are adapting to comply with the law under Title IX. It is false that that is how the university defines assault (even limited to that one office, where the rest of discussion makes clear what they intend to convey) and it is at the very least irresponsibly misleading to imply that what he quotes has anything to do with how the university responds to assault under Title IX.Report

Plouffe
Plouffe
6 years ago

FedUp: First, the headline of that section is “How Sexual Misconduct is Viewed in the Academy.” Second, Tooley does not say that this is ND’s “definition” of assault. He says it is how certain behaviors are “classified.” He must be responsible in what he writes. But we also must be responsible in what we attribute to him and how we read his actual words.Report

FedUpGradStudent
FedUpGradStudent
6 years ago

You’re right. Forgive me. I was thinking of his using the term classify to signal that it falls under the definition of. I’m not sure how else to read it, but I trust that you can explain.Report

Plouffe
Plouffe
6 years ago

Sure, happy to explain: Chip Kelly is classified as a bachelor even though Chip Kelly is not the definition of bachelor. Similarly, some behavior type X can be classified as S, even if S is not to be defined as ‘behavior of the type X’.Report

FedUpGradStudent
FedUpGradStudent
6 years ago

Plouffe, I now think you are either trolling me, or when writing your comments assumed that I was so stupid as to mean that he believed sexual assault was only defined as, rather than defined as including. Either way, I am no longer interested in attempting to engage with you, because: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bFEoMO0pc7kReport

Plouffe
Plouffe
6 years ago

When purporting to “fact-check” and then go on to claim that someone has made such an error of fact, I think precision is important. I shall let the readers decide.Report

JT
JT
6 years ago

The latest post at FP (https://feministphilosophers.wordpress.com/2014/12/17/what-university-sexual-assault-policies-really-say/) is relevant.

Also, FedUpGradStudent, I’m pretty sure that Plouffe’s farcical appeal to the value of precision signals that they are indeed trolling you.Report

Another Grad Student
Another Grad Student
6 years ago

“It is, quite frankly, offensive to suggest that irreparable harm has been done to the reputations of alleged harassers (among other things). How many senior philosophers in departments elsewhere have been rumored to be serial harassers for years without censure, without harm to their careers, without harm to the scholarly respect the discipline at large has bestowed on them? Moreover, what of those philosophers who have been found responsible for alleged misconduct and moved from one institution to the next? What of the irreparable harm done to alleged victims?”

I don’t follow this. What is offensive about suggesting that allegations of sexual harassment harm the repuations of the accused? I see two lines of thought that are suggested here:

First, there’s the thought that the suggestion is *false*, as indicated by the fact that some people still have careers in philosophy in spite of rumors or disciplinary findings that they are guilty. Several quick responses: A) The fact that rumors aren’t necessarily irreparably harmful doesn’t mean that heavily publicized allegations would be the same way. B) The fact that some people can survive or avoid damage to their reputations doesn’t mean that allegations of serious wrongdoing do not, often or in general, harm people’s reputations. C) By FedUpGradStudent’s own account, CU-Boulder had a reputation as an unsafe place for women because of rumors of (I assume) sexual harassment. (Perhaps individuals can duck these rumors in ways that whole departments cannot.)

Apart from these negative responses, I think there’s a fair bit of positive evidence that people’s reputations are harmed when they are accused of sexual harassment. One only has to read Daily Nous comments on relevant articles to see that many philosophers take a dim view of such people. (Such views may be justified; all I contend is that they manifest harm to people’s reputations.)

Second, there’s the thought that we shouldn’t be talking about such harm, even if it does exist, because there are bigger problems to talk about: namely sexual harassment itself, and failures to punish people who commit it. But “because there are bigger problems to talk about,” my shot at pulling out the implied premise, is an implausibly strong principle. It would entail that it’s offensive to talk about *any* problem so long as there is some other, bigger problem. Perhaps there’s a more subtle premise that will do the trick, but I haven’t been able to figure out what it is.Report

Carnap
Carnap
6 years ago

If Tooley’s account is accurate, the APA and AAUP ought to formally censure the CU administration.Report

Anon
Anon
6 years ago

Quoth FedUpGradStudent: “It is, quite frankly, offensive to suggest that irreparable harm has been done to the reputations of alleged harassers (among other things). How many senior philosophers in departments elsewhere have been rumored to be serial harassers for years without censure, without harm to their careers, without harm to the scholarly respect the discipline at large has bestowed on them? … What of the irreparable harm done to alleged victims?”

I’m not clear what’s intended here. The point might seem to be that it is “offensive to suggest” such damage has occurred, even if it has, because more important kinds of damage can be suffered, which must require us to discount as irrelevant any damage to the reputations of the accused.

I wonder whether this discounting of the rights of the accused goes with the shift from traditional forms of reference (‘the accused’) to offence-specific designators (‘alleged harassers’).Report

FedUpGradStudent
FedUpGradStudent
6 years ago

Another Grad, no, I don’t think it’s offensive because there are bigger problems (in fact, I think that would be an absurd and, in this context, offensive line of reasoning as well). There are multiple reasons I think it’s offensive.

Firstly, my point in mentioning when I had first learned about issues at Colorado was to point out that this reputation is not something that is completely new. Aside from allegations of retaliation, the news that has come out over the last year is entirely consonant with information that had been circulating anyway, and circulating quite far too considering I was an undergraduate when I first learned about it. What was news to me when the site visit report came out was that the university and the department were taking serious steps to address the situation. Until I learned that the department objected to the release of the report, and that certain members of the department wanted to accuse the site visitors of, e.g., being “feminist philosophers” (false in the case of Hardcastle) and failing to disclose more detailed statistics on the history of complaints, I was beyond impressed. I thought they were taking a brave step forward. (Obviously, that is still true of some.)

Secondly, in some cases at CU, it seems the allegations have done less to harm their reputation than have things they posted themselves on, say, academia.edu, defending their behavior.

Thirdly, I believe there are a number of philosophers in the discipline at large who are not only rumored to have engaged in misconduct, but who are *generally believed* to have engaged in misconduct, and it has not hurt their professional standing.

Fourthly, coming from this particular source, who has demonstrated a consistent pattern of lacking awareness and sensitivity, to cry out again and again for the reputations of the accused while denying (on the basis of admitted ignorance) that women in his department have faced any pattern of differential treatment (despite testimonial evidence to the contrary from the women in question by way of complaints filed, at the very least), it’s not appropriate.Report

BenStone
BenStone
6 years ago

(1) Barnett is not accused of sexual harassment or discrimination, but of ‘retaliation’.
(2) Kaufman is not accused of sexual harassment or discrimination. Kaufman being escorted, in a very public manner, off campus by police officers, deemed 911-worthy, and then compared by a CU-spokesperson to the Virginia Tech shooter had nothing to do with the ‘climate’ or the APA Site Report.
(5) Monton is not accused of sexual harassment or discrimination, but only of violating Colorado’s policy on *reporting* amorous relationships.
(4) It is assumed that the multitude of complaints made to the Office of Discrimination and Harassment were made by women. This is not true. Many of them were made by 1 (one) former male grad student who apparently mistook various behavior for sexual discrimination – and who has gone on to a successful academic career. As a result, *none* of this student’s complaints resulted in a ‘guilty’ finding by ODH, which, to remind people, operates on a mere ‘preponderance of the evidence’. Moreover, the ‘accused’ are not even supposed to know that they are being looked into; hence, the ‘accused’ are never asked about any of the claims being made against them until ODH finishes its preliminary ‘investigation’. Still, with all of this, only 1 complaint to ODH resulted in a guilty verdict. (at least among the faculty)
(4) There is a saying: When you’re a hammer, the world is full of nails. So, hammers, please tell the world what kind of evidence, how much evidence, would convince you that very promising careers, as well as lives, of some innocent parties have been unjustly and cruelly harmed by the actions of the Colorado administration?
(5) The ‘sketchy’ circumstances surrounding the public release of the Site Report, which Professor Tooley discovered through Colorado Open Records Act, show that the Site Committee, the Colorado Administration, or both are being less than completely truthful. This should, at least, cast some teeny weeny amount of doubt on the accuracy of their statements. Or at the very very very least, their statements should not be accepted as gospel, which, to my astonishment, has been the case with a huge number of philosophers.Report

Bill
Bill
6 years ago

Who is James Murphy and what is his connection with Colorado?Report

Anonymous
Anonymous
6 years ago

BenStone: when discussing CU and gender relations, it’s hardly mitigating that Barnett is accused of retaliating (in the Title IX sense of the term) against a female complainant instead of being himself a direct harasser. Your scare quotes around “retaliating” seem to imply that that charge is not as serious as direct harassment, but that is not clear to me at all.Report

nrh
nrh
6 years ago

James Murphy is an American musician, producer, DJ, and co-founder of record label DFA Records.Report

reichenbach
reichenbach
6 years ago

The whole idea that Barnett “retaliated” against the accuser never seemed particularly credible. The behavior of the CU administration has seemed egregious at every turn. An outside investigation is clearly needed, hopefully followed in short order by resignations from various bad actors.Report

reichenbach
reichenbach
6 years ago

A bit more carefully, the allegation that Barnett’s behavior amounted to retaliation sounded fishy from the outset. In light of the various documents that have since been released, that allegation now sounds positively outlandish.Report

Matt
Matt
6 years ago

I think that this is the song most apt for the past few years in philosophy:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tW8FKkVnqngReport

Anonymous
Anonymous
6 years ago

reichenbach, Barnett is currently exercising his contractually guaranteed tenured faculty rights to a dismissal hearing according to CU procedures. He might also avail himself of the courts should he not like the outcome of that hearing. That latter procedure, should it come about, would constitute the outside investigation your first comment asks for.Report

AnotherFedUpGrad
AnotherFedUpGrad
6 years ago

By “various documents” do you mean Barnett’s notice of claim? Or, were there some other pieces of redeeming evidence that have come to light, but which are not entirely attributable to Barnett himself? Because even if you think that the course of events as outlined by Barnett’s attorneys in his notice of claim is in fact redeeming (I certainly don’t), it’s worth emphasizing again that the notice of claim is nothing more than Barnett’s version of events, which needn’t necessarily represent that whole truth. One wonders what a similar document, representing the graduate student whose claim Barnett decided to independently investigate, would lend us to believe.Report

Carnap
Carnap
6 years ago

BTW, the link is currently dead. Tooley’s web page says the document is being edited and will be re-posted soon.Report

reichenbach
reichenbach
6 years ago

Anonymous: I meant a review of the administrations practices by a professional organization, such as the AAUP.

AnotherFedUpGradStudent: by “redeeming,” I take it you mean “tending to show that Barnett’s behavior isn’t plausibly seen as retaliatory.” The question is what specific actions supposedly constituted the retaliation. This a question about how the accuser and the administration view Barnett’s actions. It originally sounded like submitting his report to the administration was deemed retaliatory. But now it sounds like the alleged retaliation consists in something he allegedly said to someone in their office. Do you believe that the notice of claim might have misrepresented, not only the sequence of events, but the entire basis of the retaliation allegation?Report

BenStone
BenStone
6 years ago

FedUpGradStudent,
Once again, I think that you are missing the point about Barnett. His ‘investigation’ concerned, not what took place on the night in question (i.e. the reported sexual assault), but rather the Office of Discrimination and Harassment’s handling of the claim. In particular, Barnett had a problem with (a) the lack of transparency involved. (b) the fact that certain facts and testimony were intentionally omitted from the ODH report. (c) the fact that ODH conducted its investigation without bothering to speak at all with the accused. And so on and so on. His issue is with ODH, not the alleged-victim. (Please don’t make a big deal of my use of ‘alleged’ here. It is not being used pejoratively, but rather as an expression of my/our epistemic access to the facts of the case.)
Yes, of course, sexual assault is nothing to be taken lightly. And yes, there are all sorts of statistics that show that false allegations are infrequent, that only a small percentage of victims report, etc. I understand all of this better than you know. However, certainly pulling back the curtain to shine some light on a clandestine Office conducting a clandestine investigation and hearing, and intentionally omitting highly relevant testimony as ‘irrelevant’, is a very good thing, especially when that Office is in charge of issues that can have huge and far-reaching consequences for accuser and accused.
Of course, it is a bad thing if shining a light on ODH process is, in fact, ‘retaliating’ against the victim. But I suspect that the notion that Barnett did retaliate will be put to rest in the next few weeks. So, maybe we should all wait a little while before discussing this further. That is my plan, at least.Report

Anonymous
Anonymous
6 years ago

reichenbach, as you no doubt know the CU chapter of the AAUP has already issued a report condemning the administration’s treatment of the philosophy department: http://aaupcolorado.files.wordpress.com/2014/04/aaup-report-on-cu-philosophy-department.pdf . They have also become involved specifically in the Barnett case by asking for a representative to be present at Barnett’s hearing, but were rebuffed. I would imagine they are in touch with the national AAUP office and I wouldn’t be surprised if that office take up the case(s).Report

reichenbach
reichenbach
6 years ago

Anonymous: yes, I’m hoping the national AAUP office will take this up.Report

AnotherFedUpGrad
AnotherFedUpGrad
6 years ago

I take it that when an individual faculty member takes it upon himself to reopen an investigation into a student’s theretofore confidential and discrete complaint, in the course of which, personally going out and conducting a series of amateur interrogations with several members of the complainant’s department, that that is prima facie harmful, intrusive, and absolutely inappropriate behaviour. Furthermore, insofar as the investigation was ostensibly into the ODH and not the graduate student’s complaint itself, I find this to be a totally ridiculous and tone-deaf distinction. There is no professional or appropriate way to sit down the complainant in a title ix investigation, and say to her (or her colleagues and peers), straight faced, “Look, this isn’t about the veracity of your/her complaint. It’s just that insofar as the investigation found your/her complaint to be credible, I’m not sure the *investigation* was done properly. So, let’s start from the top. Why don’t you tell me what happened.” I find that line of exculpatory justification to be so absurd as to be offensive. To wit, Barnett’s notice of claim makes clear that Barnett is guilty of wrongdoing. To the extent that Barnett felt the ODH had failed the accused student, I am quite sure that there were other avenues of recourse open to both him and the accused. Specifically, recourse that would not have involved re-traumatizing a woman found to have credibly complained about a trauma.Report

AnotherFedUpGrad
AnotherFedUpGrad
6 years ago

BenStone, re your (1) — retaliation in the context of a title ix complaint _is_ a form of sexual harassment.Report

FedUpGradStudent
FedUpGradStudent
6 years ago

What AnotherFedUpGrad said. I am sincerely shocked that anyone is defending a contrary position regarding the “investigation” Barnett initiated. Before anyone claims that of course he had to conduct an investigation given his concerns, here’s what he could have done given his concern: File a Title IX complaint with the Office for Civil Rights regarding his belief that the ODH mishandled the investigation. It wouldn’t have been difficult, it would have been far more appropriate, and it would have resulted in trained professionals looking into his concerns.Report

JT
JT
6 years ago

FedUpGrads, I’m a grad and I’m fed up too. And I’m sure that each of you, like me, know many other fed up grads too. Hopefully, we represent a coming seachange in the field.Report

Phil Mc
Phil Mc
6 years ago

Slightly off topic but do people here generally think that firing Barnett is an appropriate sanction for what he is alleged to have done?Report

Carnap
Carnap
6 years ago

AnotherFedUpGrad,
Perhaps Barnett was foolish to conduct his investigation. Perhaps it was morally wrong. But retaliation under title ix? An act meriting termination?Report

Richard Gasquet
Richard Gasquet
6 years ago

I heard he has an anthology of every good paper ever written by anybody.Report

ejrd
ejrd
6 years ago

Carnap: yes. If he is found to have engaged in retaliatory behavior (i.e., sexual harassment), then termination of employment is one permissible solution. Why is that so egregious for you?Report

AnotherFedUpGrad
AnotherFedUpGrad
6 years ago

Frankly, I can’t imagine how his amateur investigation could be interpreted as anything *but* retaliatory. Again, it’s ludicrous to defend Barnett’s investigation on the grounds that he claims to have taken the investigation to be directed at the ODH, rather than the complainant. The investigation was clearly and reasonably perceived to be directed at the complainant. That is sexual harassment, and that harassment was retaliatory given the circumstances.Report

Due Process Fan
Due Process Fan
6 years ago

The synthetic outrage directed at Barnett is, itself, pretty outrageous, and the case in his defense is incredibly obvious. (I can’t help but feel slightly depressed that so many people in our profession have such a warped sense of justice). Really, it just requires the following principle: if an injustice is happening in front of you, and you are uniquely placed to do something about that injustice, and you have the power to resolve that injustice (in such a way that minimizes collateral harm), then you’re permitted to do so.

(Some people might doubt that Barnett’s actions minimized collateral harm. But — assuming that he had good reason to believe that an injustice had occurred, as presumably he did given that 5 out of 6 ODH witnesses were willing to swear that their testimony had been misrepresented — what else could he have done? Writing a report — which, remember, was circulated only among a very small group of administrators — seems like an absolutely reasonable, harm-minimizing, response in the circumstances. Doing nothing would have been acquiescing in the face of a serious injustice; and if anyone thinks there’s a way of correcting the injustice that would cause even less harm, I’d love to hear what it could be.)

At any rate, moral permissibly aside, it’s extremely implausible that Barnett’s actions constituted retaliation. For one thing, even the administration apparently no longer claims that (in Barnett’s legal claim, he cites the results of a private investigator hired by the administration who found that his report did not constitute retaliation). For another, retaliation requires intent. Here is one relevant passage from the DOJ’s guidelines on Title IX (http://www.justice.gov/crt/about/cor/coord/ixlegal.php#3.  Retaliation):

Once a prima facie case of retaliation is established, the investigating agency must then determine whether the recipient can articulate a legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason for the adverse action. If the recipient can offer such a reason, the investigating agency must then show that the recipient’s proffered reason is pretextual and that the recipient’s actual reason was retaliation.

“Correcting a flawed and unjust ODH investigation” is, obviously, a legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason for Barnett’s private investigation. And I can’t imagine there’s any way this could be shown to be pretextual (as a finding of retaliation would require).Report

BenStone
BenStone
6 years ago

RE: retaliation as sexual harassment.
Actually, at the University of Colorado Boulder, the prohibition against retaliation against an alleged victim of sexual assault/discrimination/harassment is NOT sexual harassment. CU Boulder only recognizes two types of sexual harassment: quid pro quo and hostile environment. This is clearly not a case of the former. But, as I found by ACTUALLY LOOKING AT WHAT THE POLICIES ARE at CU Boulder, it is not the latter either because of the Severity-Pervasiveness Standard, which would rule out Barnett’s alleged retaliation.

The Office of Discrimination and Harassment at CU Boulder does, however, state 3 ‘Provisions’: Against Retaliation (which is any materially-adverse action), Against False Reporting (performed knowingly or recklessly), and Against Failing in One’s Duty to Report (which, apparently, all supervisors have). So, even if Barnett were to have retaliated against anyone, it would not constitute sexual harassment ACCORDING TO THE ACTUAL POLICIES AT HIS UNIVERSITY. Just google it; it takes, like 10 seconds.

Come on, philosophers! It is OK to *refrain* from having a really strong opinion about an issue until you acquire enough evidence. And given the relatively-scarce amount of information available to the public, the evidence simply isn’t there for a really strong opinion. It is also OK to *revise* one’s beliefs in light of the evidence. I suspect, however, that the Hammers out there will continue to believe the worst about Barnett no matter what. And THAT is part of the harm that the Colorado administration has caused Barnett.Report

Anonymous
Anonymous
6 years ago

“Doing nothing” versus “doing what Barnett did” is a false dichotomy, as 36 above shows a plausible alternative: “Before anyone claims that of course he had to conduct an investigation given his concerns, here’s what he could have done given his concern: File a Title IX complaint with the Office for Civil Rights regarding his belief that the ODH mishandled the investigation. It wouldn’t have been difficult, it would have been far more appropriate, and it would have resulted in trained professionals looking into his concerns.”Report

FedUpGradStudent
FedUpGradStudent
6 years ago

Ben, that retaliation arising in Title IX contexts is a form of sex discrimination has been determined by the Supreme Court.Report

AnotherFedUpGrad
AnotherFedUpGrad
Reply to  FedUpGradStudent
6 years ago

You could google that… it would take, like, 10 seconds.Report

Due Process Fan
Due Process Fan
6 years ago

A Title IX complaint would presumably be warranted only if the ODH investigation was the result of illegal discrimination. But investigations can be unjust without being the result of illegal discrimination.Report

Andrew
Andrew
6 years ago

The Court held that retaliation constitutes discrimination, not that it constitutes sexual harassment.Report

FedUpGradStudent
FedUpGradStudent
6 years ago

Due process fan, you are mistaken about Title IX.Report

reichenbach
reichenbach
6 years ago

I’m still having a hard time seeing how anyone could construe Barnett’s behavior as retaliatory. Sure, the accuser may not have appreciated his efforts to set the record straight, just as she presumably wouldn’t have appreciated such efforts from an attorney or a federal investigator. But that doesn’t make the behavior retaliatory. If the ODH grossly misrepresented testimony and Barnett had credible evidence of this, I just don’t see how trying to bring that out — and to vindicate someone who may have been treated unjustly — could be construed as trying to get back at the accuser. If anyone can explain that, please do!

Moreover, it’s not even clear that Barnett’s submitting the report, or his talking to witnesses, was the basis for the retaliation charge. If someone else in the department had inquired about what happened after the incident and remarked on apparent discrepancies in the account, but without mentioning this to the administration, would you still consider that retaliatory? (What about a puzzled expression?)Report

Carnap
Carnap
6 years ago

I agree with Reichenbach (as a former co-editor of Erkenntnis).Report

FedUpGradStudent
FedUpGradStudent
6 years ago

I was always more of a Quine fan.Report

Cordelia
Cordelia
6 years ago

In response to Justin’s Update 2: the Site Visit Team’s violation of confidentiality is documented on Michael Tooley’s web site. See http://spot.colorado.edu/~tooley/SiteVisitReport.html, and scroll down to “Violations by the Site Visit Team of its Agreement with the Philosophy Department”.Report

Bridgette
Bridgette
6 years ago

Could you change the title that shows up (“Tooley on the Colorado Sex Scandal”) when we post this on social media sites? I would like to share this story, without advertising as the author, someone who is not confirmed to be the author.Report

YetAnotherFedUp
YetAnotherFedUp
6 years ago

BenStone: Why do you think the Severity-Pervasiveness standard would rule out Barnett’s actions as creating a hostile environment?

Here is CU Boulder’s Policy: “Conduct that unreasonably interferes with an individual’s work, academic performance or participation in university programs or activities. The behavior or attention is unwanted…Harassment of a sexual nature: Severe and/or repeated sexual behavior that’s not welcome or asked for Comments/innuendos/behaviors of a sexual nature which are inappropriate to the environment. Any sexually-oriented conduct or atmosphere that is intimidating or offensive to a “reasonable person” who is exposed to the sexual harassment of another person. NOTE: the behavior must be either SEVERE or PERVASIVE to constitute sexual harassment.”

There is nothing that I see in the language that clearly excuses Barnett’s behavior. You may think that his actions did not constitute severe and pervasive harassment, but I take it that others on this thread think that it does. So this is a substantive disagreement that you are having with people about what constitutes severe and pervasive harassment rather than a case of careless reading on the part of people who disagree with you.Report

Peggy DesAutels
Peggy DesAutels
6 years ago

As Director of the APA CSW Site Visit Program and as one of the Site Visit Team members for the CU Boulder Site Visit, I wish to set the record straight. The letter of understanding that was sent to CU Boulder included the following sentence: “The important part of ‘confidential’ is that the report is NOT made available outside the Department, and importantly includes not being made available to Deans (unless the visit is requested by a Dean)”. During our visit, we met with Provost Moore who informed us during that meeting that the report was commissioned by him, Dean Leigh, and the Chair of the Philosophy Department. He made this very clear.Report

Carnap
Carnap
6 years ago

Peggy DesAutels,
Does that mean that prior to that meeting with Provost Moore during the visit, the Site Visit Team had received no indication that the visit was requested by any party other than the Department?Report

Carnap
Carnap
6 years ago

EJRD,
Sorry to have missed your remark. I think the (admittedly limited) public evidence presently available doesn’t indicate retaliation (as that requires a certain kind of intent under Title IX) on Barnett’s part nor a moral failing serious enough to merit termination of a tenured faculty member.Report

Peggy DesAutels
Peggy DesAutels
6 years ago

Carnap,

No it does not mean that.Report

Carnap
Carnap
6 years ago

Peggy DesAutels,

Thanks for your response. I asked because Tooley’s concerns about a violation of confidentiality turn partly on whether there was any prior correspondence between the Site Visit Team and the Dean or Provost. You could helpfully respond to those concerns by indicating whether such prior correspondence occurred and, if so, when it occurred and what form it took. Tooley claims that his requests to the Site Visit Team for such information have produced no response.

I take it that these questions matter partly because
(a) the Department would, it appears, not have invited the Site Visit Team had it known the report would be shared with members of an administration apparently intent on setting an example of their department, and
(b) the information you shared above doesn’t show that the Site Visit Team was also invited by the Provost and Dean. (If x invites y to visit, some other z cannot join in issuing the invitation once y has arrived.)Report

Tim Kenyon
Tim Kenyon
6 years ago

“…unless the visit is *requested by* a Dean…”

“…doesn’t show that the Site Visit Team was also *invited by* the Provost and Dean. (If x invites y to visit, some other z cannot join in issuing the invitation once y has arrived.)”

Obviously you can get invited somewhere and subsequently find out that someone else requested it. It would seem to require an effort to miss this point.Report

Anon grad student
Anon grad student
6 years ago

Peggy DesAutels — thank you for appearing on this thread to set the record straight. I had two questions (prompted by some of what Michael Tooley claims here: http://spot.colorado.edu/~tooley/Two_Violations_of_the_Agreement_by_the_Site_Visit_Team.html ).

(1) The “Site Visit Process and Expectations” document includes the line that “The Team will not provide the report to institutional administrators, though the Site Visit Team may discuss its initial findings in broad terms with administrators during the site visit itself.” Did the Team, in fact, provide the report to institutional administrators? And if so, do you think that the expectation set out in the document was violated?

(2) Professor Tooley claims that the report was requested by the chair of the department, and denies (or at least exhibits doubt) that the Dean and Provost were co-authors of this request. Do you have any documentary evidence (e.g. letters or emails) showing that the Dean and/or Provost made such a request, or was this merely communicated to you verbally?Report

Cordelia
Cordelia
6 years ago

DesAutels seems to be quoting a later revision of their document. This is the relevant paragraph from the document that the Site Visit Team sent to the department:

“Further, the Site Visit Team will not communicate the details of what is learned about the Department as part of the Site Visit process to people outside of the Department. The final report will be directly provided only to the Department. The Team will not provide the report to anyone outside the Department, including deans, unless the visit request is made by a dean, in which case only that dean will be provided the report. The Team will not provide the report to institutional administrators, though the Site Visit Team may discuss its initial findings in broad terms with administrators during the site visit itself.”

It was the department that sent the request for the site visit. It was only after the visit was over and the report had been publicly released that the department suddenly learned that the Team was claiming that the visit had been jointly requested by the department, the dean, and the provost. When Tooley tried to get some documentation of the dean’s and the provost’s request, presuming that this would entail some earlier correspondence with the dean and the provost, the Team refused to provide it, claiming that the correspondence was confidential.

Through a CORA (Colorado Open Records Act) request, Tooley was then able to confirm that there was in fact no such correspondence. All of this is documented on Tooley’s web site, http://spot.colorado.edu/~tooley/SiteVisitReport.html.

To take account of the Site Visit Team’s current position, perhaps a sentence should be added: “However, notwithstanding any of the above, the Team WILL provide the report to any administrators who want it, if, during our visit, those adminstrators claim, in an unconfirmable verbal conversation, and without notice to the department, that they partly ‘commissioned’ the report. The department need not be notified of who we are going to claim requested the visit until after the report is published online.”

If this simple addition were made, it would prevent any future misunderstandings.Report

Peggy DesAutels
Peggy DesAutels
6 years ago

It was the team’s understanding during the visit that the Chair, the Dean, and the Provost were all aware that we were there at the request of all three and would be providing the report to all three. Since the Colorado visit, we have changed our letter of agreement to state explicitly in writing prior to the visit exactly who will be receiving the report so there is no further confusion on such an important issue.
I will not comment further on this, and request that any future questions about the professional conduct of the Site Visit Team at CU Boulder be directed to the current chair of the Department of Philosophy at CU Boulder. Thanks!Report

Carnap
Carnap
6 years ago

Tim Kenyon,

You write,
“Obviously you can get invited somewhere and subsequently find out that someone else requested it.”

Of course. However, I take it that the language in the letter from the Site Visit Committee was meant to refer to a situation in which a Dean made the request (or joined in such a request) to the Site Visit Committee for a visit from their members. That would simply be an invitation in the sense already addressed by my earlier comment.

Even given your (strained) reading, what reason is there to think that the Dean and/or Provost requested that the Department invite the Site Visit Team? Tooley says that they did not. He also claims that “if either Provost Moore or Dean Leigh had asked the Philosophy Department to make a request on his behalf, the Philosophy Department would certainly not have agreed to submit any such request: given the hostility towards the Philosophy Department that the Administration had already exhibited, the Philosophy Department would only have requested a site visit if the resulting report was going to be released only to the Philosophy Department.”

Perhaps the members of the Site Visit Team, though not invited by the Dean and/or Provost, *mistakenly* thought, perhaps on the basis of the Provost’s claims in the aforementioned meeting, that the administration had requested that the Department invite the Site Visit Team. If that is what happened, they ought to own up to it.

You then write
“It would seem to require an effort to miss this point.”

Seeking to be the change I want to see in the world, I forbear from responding. I need to go work on inductive logic. Can you take over Reichenbach?Report

Cordelia
Cordelia
6 years ago

“It was the team’s understanding during the visit that the Chair, the Dean, and the Provost were all aware that we were there at the request of all three”:
What was this understanding based upon? In particular, was it at all based on any communication with the chair? Did the chair, for example, confirm that this was the case? Was he told that this was the case?

A further question: Assume that the team in fact had a conversation with the provost in which he said what DesAutels reports. If that was actually the basis for their belief that the visit was requested by the dean and provost, then why didn’t they say that when Michael Tooley first asked them about the matter? Why did they instead imply that there was some confidential earlier correspondence that they couldn’t reveal?Report

BenStone
BenStone
6 years ago

Colorado was the first department to be ‘assessed’ by the brand new APA Site Committee. It is understandable that the first visit of the Site Team would be a learning experience for them, and there are going to be some things that they would do differently on the next visit. They are not infallible, after all. The problem is that they refuse to admit that they did anything worth revising/changing for their future visits. E.g. giving the administration their report. Newly-formed committees making their first ‘test run’ are going to make some mistakes. Admitting one’s mistakes is laudable.

By now, we’re all becoming aware of the highly-questionable actions of the administration at Colorado. Of course, we’re not going to get the straight story from them. However, we expect more of our colleagues in philosophy. Or we should, at least.Report

Tim Kenyon
Tim Kenyon
6 years ago

“Carnap” writes: “Of course. However, I take it that the language in the letter from the Site Visit Committee was meant to refer to a situation in which a Dean made the request (or joined in such a request) to the Site Visit Committee for a visit from their members. That would simply be an invitation in the sense already addressed by my earlier comment.”

We at least seem to agree that your critique (b) in #62 rests on your replacement of Peggy DesAutels’ word ‘requested’ with your own word ‘invited’ in the quoted sentence. We disagree about whether this effort was motivated by any plausible interpretive principle, since you are claiming that the SVC included a baffling non-sequitur in their letter, “meant to refer to a situation” that both the authors and the recipients of the letter would have known to be counterfactual in the event that the Dean did not (co-)issue the invitation itself. Whereas the approach of… well, *not* changing Professor DesAutels’ words to generate the appearance of incoherence requires only that “requested” means *requested*, and not *invited* (nor *commanded*, *spatula*, *plumber*, *smurf*, etc), so that the quoted sentence would have been communicatively warranted: a genuine caveat bearing on relevant circumstances that might yet have been discovered to apply.Report

FacultyType
6 years ago

Let’s not forget why it’s important to ask who requested the site report.

There is all the difference in the world between (A) a department requesting a site visit so that it can get helpful advice and counsel, and (B) a dean requesting a site visit in order to get advice about how to crack down on a department. The site visit project folks were fully aware of this difference, and they promised confidentiality in cases where the department is requesting help.

In this instance, my department thought it was following path (A). The idea for the site visit came from within the department, and the decision to pursue this idea was made by a vote of the department. But when we received the site report, we learned (greatly to our surprise) that we were actually on path (B). The report had already been sent to the Provost and the Dean, and matters were taken completely out our hands. We were given no opportunity even to discuss the findings and recommendations of the report, and several of its most extreme recommendations were adopted straightaway by administrative fiat.

So is it true that the Provost or the Dean requested a site visit at a time prior to the visit? Professor DesAutels says that it was the team’s “understanding” the visit was requested by all three parties. What she does not explain is how they came to have that understanding.

I don’t doubt that Provost Moore told the site team that they could say that he and Dean Leigh had requested a site visit. (After all, that was the only way they could receive copies of the report.) But it shouldn’t be hard to understand why some of us feel that we were the victims of a bait and switch.Report

Carnap
Carnap
6 years ago

“Tim Kenyon”

I find your reply baffling. I humbly suggest that you look at the relevant document here

http://spot.colorado.edu/%7Etooley/Site_Visit_Process_and_Expectations.pdf

I take it that the authenticity of this document is agreed to by all. It is clearly a generic document which includes reference to possibilities which might well be “known to be counterfactual” in some situations.

Btw, “smurf”?Report

Tim Kenyon
Tim Kenyon
6 years ago

“Carnap”:
Fair enough; I can simplify. Nothing speaks against reading either the document or Professor DesAutels as meaning *requested* by “requested”. In some contexts, “requested” could be used similarly to “invited”; you have claimed this is a linguistically permissible reading in this case, but have given no reason to think we are driven to that reading. But if you so treat it in this case, and quietly replace one word for the other in your critique, it makes out the SVT’s actions prima facie to have been problematic, or resting on a confused rationale destroyed by a frankly dime-store refutation (“If x invites y to visit, some other z cannot join in issuing the invitation once y has arrived”). Whereas if you treat “requested” as meaning *requested*, the SVT’s actions appear consistent with what they had conveyed from the outset. It would seem to require an effort to impose the non-standard interpretation on the word here — an effort repaid by nothing obvious except for the subsequent availability of the negative characterization and trivial refutation.

Of course, the anonymous internet is not short of philosophy commenters keen to seize on any interpretation on which people working towards climate improvement in the discipline are problematic or confused. My view is that if you have two interpretations, one of which is both linguistically non-standard and makes out multiple people of intellectual accomplishment and presumably good faith to have been unethical or addled, and the other of which is linguistically straightforward and makes those people out to have acted cogently and in good faith, taking the former approach is beyond curious, while taking the latter is perfectly straightforward.

Naturally this is consistent with the prospect that there were misunderstandings, even serious ones, on various sides. Professor DesAutels’ remark that the Letter of Understanding has since been clarified is certainly welcome. Nor does it preclude any characterization of the internal politics of UCB, including the possibility that the Department was ill-used by senior admin. It does show, though, that your remark to Professor DesAutels, “the information you shared above doesn’t show that the Site Visit Team was also invited by the Provost and Dean,” is a red herring.Report

Carnap
Carnap
6 years ago

Tim Kenyon,

You write, “if you treat “requested” as meaning *requested*, the SVT’s actions appear consistent with what they had conveyed from the outset.”

The “Process and Expectations” document says “The Team will not provide the report to anyone outside the Department, including deans, *unless the visit request is made by a dean,* in which case only that dean will be provided the report.”

You insist that “the visit request” need not mean the request to the SVT to visit the Department (the “invitation” reading). I, contrary to you, continue to think that it is the most natural reading. Instead, you suggested, it may refer to a request by the Dean to the Department that the Department invite the SVT. I noted earlier that there is ample evidence that this did not occur (see Tooley’s site).

What may have happened, to repeat, is that the SVT mistakenly took the Provost’s remarks during the site visit to indicate that the Provost and/or Dean had asked the Department to invite the SVT. If this sort of mistake was made, then the policy on confidentiality *was* breached. As I (and some others commenting here) have noted, if that is what occurred, the SVT members ought to admit it. This situation would not be one in which the SVT members are “addled” or “unethical.” It would be one in which they were merely insufficiently careful in discharging their duties. (Indeed, you allow that there may have been “serious mistakes” made.) Still, the SVT ought to explain clearly where they came to have “the understanding” that the visit was requested by the Dean and Provost.

I find your continued efforts to impugn my motives (and my competence! – my refutations are not “dime-store” or “trivial,” they are high-quality, deep and informative) unfortunate. I grant that anonymity is often a shield for deliberate misunderstanding and abuse. I have not engaged in either.

Your proposed principle of charity is, I think, of very little use in a case in which people of good will and intellectual accomplishment *disagree* with each other. This is such a case. To darkly impugn my motives (and, presumably, those of Tooley and others concerned about the SVT visit to CU) as “beyond curious” is, I hope, beneath you.Report

FacultyType
6 years ago

Here’s what I think may well have happened. The Site Team was in close contact with a couple of department members other than the department chair. From them they learned that Russell Moore was demanding strong action to “fix” the department’s climate, that he had authorized the department to arrange for a Site Visit, and perhaps even that he had agreed to pay for said visit. The Site Team wondered whether these facts might be tantamount to a “request” that would make it possible for them send their report directly to Russell Moore without violating their contractual obligations. So during the Site Visit itself they asked Russell Moore about this very point, and he told them simply to say that all three parties had “commissioned” the report.

This story explains how the Site Team might have thought the administration was somehow involved in “commissioning” their report despite the absence of an official request. It explains how it could be that they came to this “understanding” prior to the visit itself (see #61 in response to #59), and also why DesAutels would not feel free to say much about how they arrived at this “understanding.” (To do would be to “out” confidential sources within the department.) Finally, it explains DesAutels’s remarkable appeal to the conversation with Russell Moore (#58).

Still, one wonders why they did not think to ask the philosophy department chair what his understanding was. Could it be that they were afraid he would say that the department alone had requested the report and that it should be sent to the department alone? We’ll never know the answer to that interesting question. But taking everything into consideration, I think it’s fair to say that the Site Team was not entirely straightforward in its dealings with the department.

The only piece of good news here is that a lesson has been learned. In future site teams will state “explicitly” and “in writing prior to the visit exactly who will be receiving [their] report.” That’s something.Report

Tim Kenyon
Tim Kenyon
6 years ago

“Carnap”: I will close by noting the issues here that bear on my actual words.

“Indeed, you allow that there may have been “serious mistakes” made.”

No. I did not. You have changed my words in a small but critical way, with your substituted word again facilitating fault-finding with the SVT.

“To darkly impugn my motives (and, presumably, those of Tooley and others concerned about the SVT visit to CU) as “beyond curious” is, I hope, beneath you.”

Since I have manifestly said nothing whatever about Professor Tooley nor, to my knowledge, the nameless other people you have in mind as “concerned about the SVT visit to CU” (a description that strictly includes me), this hope of yours has clearly come to fruition preemptively.

As for your case, well, I have no reason to doubt that your remarks are linked to principles that I share — involving, say, the importance of due process, and of transparency. I also recognize that there can be excellent reasons for anonymity, and that you see yourself merely as pressing for answers you feel are owed. Yet I would also suggest that your antecedent views on the SVT visit are doing more work in shaping your reasoning here than you appreciate: in, inter alia, your sense that it is natural to revise Professor DesAutels’ words, into a form that leaves her in need of an explanation for how invitations work; in your subtle changing of my own words, to have me contemplating serious mistakes by the SVT; in your claim that I somehow managed to impugn the motives of Professor Tooley by taking issue with your revision of Professor DesAutels’ words. This (again, inter alia) strikes me as the serial mis- and over-interpretation of evidence, consistently valenced in the same direction. Are my own antecedent views also pushing and pulling? No doubt. This medium is ill-suited to minimize those effects, and well-suited to sharpen polarized views.Report

Michael Tooley
6 years ago

Peggy DesAutels, in her initial comment (December 18, 9:49 am), says, “The letter of understanding that was sent to CU Boulder included the following sentence: “The important part of ‘confidential’ is that the report is NOT made available outside the Department, and importantly includes not being made available to Deans (unless the visit is requested by a Dean).”
First of all, the “letter of understanding” referred to here is presumably a document attached to a letter with the subject “CSW Site Visit Process and Expectations document,” sent by Valerie Hardcastle to Graeme Forbes on August 6, 2013, and which reads as follows:
From: “Hardcastle, Valerie (hardcave)”
Date: August 6, 2013 3:58:20 PM MDT
To: Graeme R Forbes
Subject: FW: CSW Site Visit Process and Expectations document

Dear Graeme,
Could you verify that the expectations outlined in the attached “CSW Site Visit Process and Expectations” document these expectations are acceptable to you and your department?
We will be getting back to you very shortly regarding details of with whom we would like to meet as well as the departmental survey.

All best,
Valerie

Valerie Gray Hardcastle
Professor of Philosophy, Psychology, and Psychiatry & Behavioral Neuroscience
Co-Director, Weaver Institute for Law and Psychiatry
University of Cincinnati
Is the sentence that DesAutels claims to be quoting from the “letter of understanding” then to be found in the relevant document? The answer is that it isn’t. What one finds in the section entitled “Confidentiality,” rather than DesAutels’ sentence
“The important part of ‘confidential’ is that the report is NOT made available outside the Department, and importantly includes not being made available to Deans (unless the visit is requested by a Dean).”
is instead
“The final report will be directly provided only to the Department. The Team will not provide the report to anyone outside the Department, including deans, unless the visit request is made by a dean, in which case only that dean will be provided the report.”
It would seem, then, that DesAutels, rather than consulting the original correspondence to see what was in fact sent, has engaged in a somewhat creative exercise.
Now that we have seen what the sentence in question was, let’s consider the full paragraph from which that sentence has been taken:
“Further, the Site Visit Team will not communicate the details of what is learned about the Department as part of the Site Visit process to people outside of the Department. The final report will be directly provided only to the Department. The Team will not provide the report to anyone outside the Department, including deans, unless the visit request is made by a dean, in which case only that dean will be provided the report. The Team will not provide the report to institutional administrators, though the Site Visit Team may discuss its initial findings in broad terms with administrators during the site visit itself.”
Notice the sentence immediately following the one that corresponds to the sentence that DesAutels produced. To whom was the Site Visit Report sent? Did the Site Visit Team send it only to the Philosophy Department and Dean Leigh? The answer is that this was not the case: the Site Visit Report was also sent to the Provost, and that, as one can see, was a clear violation of the assurance that the Team would “not provide the report to institutional administrators.”
Next, Peggy DesAutels then goes on to say, “During our visit, we met with Provost Moore who informed us during that meeting that the report was commissioned by him, Dean Leigh, and the Chair of the Philosophy Department. He made this very clear.” As a commentator named ‘Carnap’ (December 18, 10:51 am) notes, if you have invited someone to visit, once the visit has begun, no one else can then also add his or her name to the list of those who have requested the visit. The Provost can, some of my colleagues assure me, be a rather intimidating presence, and if, as it seems, he expressed a very strong interest in seeing the Site Visit Report, it might well have been difficult to say no. But great though his powers may be, they do not include that of submitting a request for something that is already taking place.
A crucial question, accordingly, is whether anyone outside the Philosophy Department wrote to the Site Visit Team before the visit took place requesting the site visit. In a slightly earlier comment (December 14, 9:58 am), in response to DesAutels’ reference to what Provost Moore had said during the site visit, ‘Carnap’ asked, “Does that mean that prior to that meeting with Provost Moore during the visit, the Site Visit Team had received no indication that the visit was requested by any party other than the Department?” – to which DesAutels’ answer (December 18, 10:28 am) was, “No it does not mean that.”
This leaves one with the following question, “Is it true that, before the visit took place, no one outside the Philosophy Department wrote to the Site Visit Team requesting the site visit?”
Those who have read the documents that I posted on my home page a few months ago will know that I made requests under the Colorado Open Records Act for any correspondence between either Dean Leigh or Provost Russell Moore and any member of the site visit team. The result was that there was only one letter from Provost Moore to any member of the Site Visit Team, and that was on November 18, 2013, acknowledging receipt of the Site Visit Report, while in the case of Dean Leigh, he did not write to any member of the site visit team until January 27, 2014.
Let me close, then, by asking the question that I would hope many readers of the Daily Nous would like to see answered: “Is it true that, before the visit took place, no one outside the Philosophy Department wrote to the Site Visit Team requesting the site visit?”Report

Kathryn Pogin
Kathryn Pogin
6 years ago

Michael Tooley, is it not possible that a phone call took place? Or any other method of communication?Report

Jeff Heikkinen
Jeff Heikkinen
6 years ago

I don’t know Professor Tooley and can only speak for myself as an outside observer, but I would respond thus:

While such a phone call hasn’t been ruled out, making such an important decision by phone, without any form of written confirmation to ALL (or indeed, any) of the parties, would itself be grounds for serious criticism of the SVT. On the the most pro-SVT reading possible, this would still be a serious failure to follow established best practices, which has led pretty directly to a lot of avoidable anger and confusion. Such a thing should not be decided by an undocumented phone call, especially one that only some of the parties were privy to.

In any case, it’s not clear that such a phone call could override the written assurances quoted above by Tooley. (When I say it’s not clear, that’s not a passive-aggressive way of saying “it’s obviously false” as it seems to be for much of the profession, I genuinely mean it’s not clear, at least to me). This, again, is especially true given that some of the parties weren’t even privy to this hypothetical agreement, and might have withdrawn their consent if they were.Report

Kathryn Pogin
Kathryn Pogin
6 years ago

Thank you for the reply Jeff. You’re right, I think, that even if such a phone call took place it would be an open question whether that would be sufficient. But I can certainly imagine circumstances a phone call took place, where conversations confirming the arrangement between all relevant parties took place during the visit, and so on.Report