From Toys ‘R’ Us.
Also, here is a link to a Facebook event for the original walkout. It shows 500+ students “attending”, which I am guessing is a mixture of people who were planning on going and people who wanted to show support for the endeavor. You can read a statement of their protest there.
From that protest statement:
“We are upset that the University allows a professor who has been found in violation of this policy to i) continue his employment at Northwestern and ii) be in contact with undergraduate students, graduate students, and TAs.”
You can compare that to this quote from the Daily Northwestern article:
“[The administration] understood why people would be uncomfortable taking classes with Professor Ludlow,” Stephens [a student] said. “But they were also saying that’s not the view of all students. Some students want to take this particular class.”
Contra the viewpoint of the administration as expressed by Stephens in the quote above, this walk-out does not seem to be about individual students feeling “uncomfortable” taking a class with Ludlow. Rather, as they put it in their protest statement, students are upset that the university’s would choose to have Ludlow retain his full teaching and mentoring duties with students even after he was found in violation of the sexual harassment policy.
With that in mind, I would venture that, as to the assessment of this walk-out, the good that comes from a large handful of students (let’s say 500) expressing that they want to feel safe with their teachers and mentors might outweigh, in the grand scheme of things, the good that comes from other students getting to take a really cool-sounding class that they are interested in. Framing this as some students who didn’t want to take the class preventing all students from taking it, is, if not false, at least not the whole truth. The students walking out don’t need to represent the judgment of all students. They represent enough students who seriously doubt whether their university is acceptably prioritizing their safety and well-being.
I want to stress this point, because I think it can be somewhat easy to dismiss this reaction from students as them being overly sensitive or going overboard. I myself am still a student, so I can say with very fresh memory—being a student, while one of the best experiences of my life, it is also one of the most vulnerable experiences of my life. That applies to both graduate and undergraduate education, though differently in some aspects. In both, I am putting my academic self-concept, my personal growth, and a whole lot of intellectual and interpersonal trust in my teachers and my mentors. I am giving over parts of myself to them in the hope that I will emerge a better, wiser, and more knowledgeable person. The realization that I cannot trust a particular teacher or mentor to have my well-being in mind—to realize that they might not care whether I emerge from our interactions as a better, wiser, or more knowledgeable person—to worry whether they might use my eagerness and my trust for some end that I do not endorse—is a rather devastating experience. That has happened to me three times in my career as a student, and I can recall each incident from high school onwards with vivid clarity. (And none of them ever reached the level of fearing sexual advances.) Perhaps I was hit extra hard by these experiences because I so highly value my academic self-concept; but, I would imagine that in a university setting, I am probably not so much of an outlier.
I find it weird and worrisome that philosophy discusses the ethics of being a doctor, a businessperson, a scientist, and an engineer, but not the ethics of being a teacher. For a group of people who so highly value reflection and introspection, who are perfectly fine using “I” in our papers, we philosophers bizarrely do not seem that collectively interested in looking at ourselves as teachers and what it means to be an intellectual mentor to someone—which is sort of the backbone of our profession, yes?
*I may have to close comments later today, as I will be traveling, but I will leave them open as long as I can find the time to moderate.
Moderators’ note: We lost track of this comment thread. We apologize for that. It is important to us that our readers regard Feminist Philosophers as a safe place to read and comment. Our principal tool in maintaining that safe space is our “be nice” rule. That rule was unfortunately violated in this comment thread, and we didn’t catch it in time. We have closed comments, and they will remain closed. However, we have decided not to delete the thread because we have received feedback that many of our readers have found the discussion there useful. We hope this is the right decision. Moderating is difficult; we are doing our best. We renew our determination to apply the “be nice” rule in future so that FP remains, as far as possible, a safe space for discussion.
More on the Oxford letter March 5, 2014
UPDATE: The second story linked above states that the coroner described Ketland’s emails as “crazy and rambling”. Paula Boddington notes that this is inaccurate– the coroner was reporting the opinion of a witness. (Thanks, C.)
Another UPDATE: The Independent has published a story about the letter here.
The petitions site is here. There are different petitions to sign, depending on who you are – there is more information on the site.
The Department of Sociomedical Sciences at Columbia’s Mailman School of Public Health has terminated two prominent public health professors Carole S. Vance (a medical anthropologist specializing in gender and female sexuality) and Kim Hopper (a medical anthropologist specializing in homelessness) without cause or compensation after more than 25 years of distinguished service.
At the same time that Columbia University has just announced a record-shattering $6.1 billion haul from the capital campaign, Columbia’s School of Public Health has decided that non-tenured faculty who don’t bring in at least 80% of the salaries in grant money must go – regardless of the quality of their teaching or the impact of their scholarship.
There is more information here.
Violence against women is “an extensive human rights abuse” across Europe with one in three women reporting some form of physical or sexual abuse since the age of 15 and 8% suffering abuse in the last 12 months, according to the largest survey of its kind on the issue, published on Wednesday.
Read more, here.
A more international, interdisciplinary version of What is it Like! Check it out here.
Below is the text of an open letter sent today. For the full letter, including all addressees and signatories, click here: Openletterconcerningrecentharassmentallegations.
We the undersigned are writing to express concern and dismay at the findings of the inquest into the tragic death of Charlotte Coursier. It is now known that allegations of harassment were reported to the University and police in May 2013, and that the police issued a warning under the Harassment Act. It is also known that the University has since conducted a review which concluded in October. Charlotte’s alleged harasser, Dr Jeffrey Ketland, remains an employee of the University, and has had institutionally mediated contact with students since the University began its review.
Our concerns are twofold. We worry about the lack of information communicated to students. We further worry about the decision to keep Dr Ketland in institutionally mediated contact with students after the review began.
We understand that those conducting the review must avoid being prejudicial. We also accept that privacy and due process must be respected. But the lack of comment has created a difficult atmosphere in the Philosophy Faculty. Some students now fear that harassment charges are not taken seriously. Others were upset to only learn of the situation in the national press. We understand that University staff are contractually obliged to abide by University policy and British law (“codes”). But if the relevant codes could be reformed to allow for more openness, we urge that the appropriate reforms are made.
Secondly, it is strongly in the interests of students not to be placed at undue risk of harassment. It seems to us that when harassment allegations are made against a member of staff, the University should limit their institutionally mediated contact with students whilst a review occurs. We think that this is required by the University’s duty of care towards its students. We understand that this duty could have been met by the University codes of practice, which allow for suspending staff with pay during a review process. We refer to University Statute XII: Part D, 19 (4) and section 8.2 of the Staff handbook (Academic-related staff). Yet after the review began, Dr Ketland continued to have institutionally mediated contact with students. In future reviews of harassment allegations, we strongly urge the swift adoption of such a suspension policy.
Hypatia Diversity Prize March 3, 2014
Hypatia is pleased to invite submissions for the 2015 Hypatia Diversity Essay Prize. This prize is awarded biennially for the best essay, previously unpublished, written by a graduate student, postdoctoral fellow, or non-tenured faculty member that embodies a feminist, intersectional approach in a philosophical analysis combining categories of identity (e.g., gender, class, disability, ethnicity, nationality, race, religion, sexuality). In addition to being published as the winning Diversity Essay in Hypatia, the winning author(s) will receive $500. Essays of high quality that do not receive the award will also be considered for publication.
The Diversity Essay Prize committee warmly encourages essay submissions! Please submit essays at the Hypatia Manuscript Central Submission Site. When you submit your essay, make sure to select “Diversity Essay Prize” in the drop-down menu, and also note in the cover letter that the submission is for the diversity essay prize.
The Diversity Prize Committee is chaired by Linda Martin Alcoff and includes Ladelle McWhorter and David Haekwon Kim. If you have any question you may contact either the Editorial Offices at Hypatia@villanova.edu or Linda Martin Alcoff at firstname.lastname@example.org.
February 1, 2015 submission deadline
From a reader:
I teach students in my courses (all undergrads) how to avoid the use of gender-exclusive language. I’ve seen lightbulbs go off when I share techniques for avoiding awkward constructions, and I think many students readily absorb the idea that their writing should be aimed at everyone, not just at men.
Here’s the dilemma: A former student (now in the workforce) has asked for feedback on his personal statement for grad school applications. His statement is chock-full of gender exclusive language–the kind of language which assumes all philosophers are men. I’m torn about whether to correct it or not. I have loyalty to this student who once took a course with me, but there’s loyalty to my colleagues, whom I may have never met, but who have to deal with a lot of low-level sexism of the kind that drives us all nuts. I wouldn’t want them to exclude him from academe but his wording could be relevant data for someone. It’s his personal statement, not mine. His wording is sexist, and although mine wouldn’t be, I’m not the one asking for inclusion in this community.
My intuition is that the reader should offer advice, not editing new choices into the document but suggesting in one’s email-reply that the language is gender-exclusive. If he doesn’t take the advice, that’s his affair, but if he does then good, because doing so possibly indicates a corrigible future colleague.