APA Issues Letter on Sexual Harassment

The Board of Officers of the American Philosophical Association (APA) has published an open letter on sexual harassment. It is addressed ” first and foremost to victims of sexual harassment within the profession of philosophy, and secondly, to all members of the APA.”

We are committed, both personally and as the primary governing body of the association, to combatting the widespread and well-documented problem of sexual harassment in our profession and to supporting our colleagues who have been victimized by sexual harassment. We hope that all members of the profession will stand with us in condemning sexual harassment in all its forms, and in supporting victims of sexual harassment so that they may continue their professional lives as valued members of our discipline.

To the victims, the letter says:

Many of you have not received adequate support from your colleagues and redress from your institutions. All of you, we assume, have had both your personal and your professional lives deeply affected by your experiences. These effects are likely to endure for years to come… 

All of you who remain in the discipline of philosophy face the prospect of encountering your harasser in professional philosophical settings whether at your academic institution or at philosophical conferences.

We, the board of officers of the APA, want you to know that we recognize the hardship imposed on you and the structural obstacles to recognizing and addressing sexual harassment.

The letter also issues a call for “all philosophy departments to commit to eliminating sexual harassment; the first step toward this is vigorously and immediately pursuing all allegations of sexual harassment.”

The letter provides some general advice both for victims and others, about where to learn about sexual harassment policies and about how to seek help from the APA. The APA, though, is limited in what it can do:

We recently consulted with legal counsel regarding the APA’s additional options for responding to sexual harassment; we explored sanctions such as denying conference registration by or revoking the APA membership of those found by their institutions to have committed sexual harassment, as well as supportive actions, such as providing victims with a buddy system at APA meetings. Unfortunately, these kinds of measures open the APA to excessive legal liability.

The whole letter is posted below and is available here. There is also an article about the letter at Inside Higher Ed, which includes some reactions to it from a few members of the profession.


APA Sexual Harassment Open Letter June 2015 j

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