We are the tenured women professors, and a professor emerita, in the philosophy department at the University of Colorado at Boulder. Over the years, students and faculty in our department, mostly but not only women, have made numerous complaints about unprofessional behavior by certain members of the department.
Many of the complaints focused on sexual misconduct, but others included violations of harassment policy, including its anti-retaliation clause, and violations of the amorous relations policy. On its own, the department was unable to deal with these complaints — many of which were not formally reported because of fears of retaliation; in any case, by university and state regulations, professors are prohibited from undertaking investigations and sanctions on their own.
For this reason, we, and many of our colleagues, are grateful both to Andy Cowell, our external chair, as well as to the CU-Boulder administration, for taking strong and decisive action to investigate wrongdoing, for committing significant resources to punish those found in violation of university regulations, and for investing in the future of our department. Although the process has been and continues to be painful, we believe that the outcome will be positive.
We are in the process of stopping behavior that was harmful, especially to the women students and faculty in our department, and we are taking steps to make sure that in the future, such problems either will be prevented or, if they occur, will be addressed quickly and effectively. Although these measures may have temporarily damaged the reputation of our department in some quarters, we are confident that we can rebuild on stronger foundations.
We intend to repudiate a secret culture of misbehavior and to win back the confidence of prospective students and faculty on the basis of hard-won achievements with respect to the climate as well as the commitment of a solid core of faculty members to an inclusive and welcoming work environment for all.