I’m not going to name names, but you can probably figure some of this out. The moral of the story rests, however, not with who did it, but how it was done.
Suppose you are experiencing sexual harassment in an organizational setting. All you have to do is to go to the relevant office for complaints? Not exactly. Thus the tale:
In the early 1990’s a friend of mine arrived at a large state university for her second job in academia. She was quite wonderful, full of life and thought, and she had an assistant professorship. Rather splendid looking, she was the sort that one can easily imagine a certain type of man might like to brush against and/or learn against. Perhaps saying a few “naughty words” in her ears and on her email. Yes, well that was her first job. She sued on the grounds that “a chilly climate” was created, and she was compensated; this was in Canada.
When she arrived at her second assistant professorship, she was very wary. Prepared for the worst, she got it, she maintains, from someone who, among other things, was having affairs in the department. This time the administration denied her allegations and were pretty determined to stand by their man, along with belittling any evidence she had. In the end, there was a settlement; he – with rumors of all sorts of misbehavior around him – left to a lucrative professorship in another state, and she was given a supply closet as an office and two years’ salary, after which she was to leave. Which she did, and she went on eventually to a successful career outside of academia. She had some very difficult years, though. It is hard to be treated as a worthless mistake for a long time and still feel much confidence.
And in the last several weeks the alleged harasser has hit the news. He killed his wife, two friends and then himself.
Moral: Do not make any assumptions about whom universities will defend. From the Ivies with graduate students locked in closets (true story, I swear) down the tiers.
(Let me add a recognition of the many other great sorrows that are around this story, a number of them apparently stretching over about two decades. My focus here, though, is on how academic hierarchies can act to protect the alleged perpetrator with little help available for the supposed victim.)