How not to react to a Title IX case

And– appallingly– feminist scholars are part of the problem. None of the considerations below should influence an investigation of this sort.

The letter, dated May 11 and addressed to NYU’s president and provost, said Ronell was under investigation by the university’s Title IX office. The signatories, worried that she had already been damaged by the proceedings and anxious that she would lose her job, asked that she receive “a fair hearing.”

It also listed her many accomplishments in the fields of philosophy and literature and seemed to suggest that her stature in those fields and at the university should be considered in the investigation. Though the letter’s signatories said they didn’t have access to a “confidential dossier” from a Title IX investigation, they stated their “objection to any judgment against her.”

“This is an example of a kind of misuse or abuse of Title IX.” “We testify to the grace, the keen wit, and the intellectual commitment of Professor Ronell and ask that she be accorded the dignity rightly deserved by someone of her international standing and reputation,” the letter said. “If she were to be terminated or relieved of her duties, the injustice would be widely recognized and opposed.”

Read about the letter here.

Students disciplined for warning about sexual harassment

Allegations had been swirling around William Jaworski for years.

An associate philosophy professor at Fordham University, Dr. Jaworski was accused of making female students feel “uncomfortable” and “unsafe,” according to a letter he received from the university. Many formal and informal complaints were made against him, two of which were substantiated, one for sexual harassment and another for unprofessional conduct. The letter said the “pattern of behavior” had gone on for over a decade.

So at the beginning of this semester, two seniors, Samantha Norman and Eliza Putnam, decided to do something about it. On the first day of class in January, they visited two of Dr. Jaworski’s Philosophical Ethics classes, taught at the university’s Lincoln Center campus, in Manhattan, before the instructor arrived. Standing in front of a white board with about two dozen students folded into desks in front of them, they delivered a warning.

“We introduced ourselves and said, ‘We just want you to know that there’s a history of allegations against this professor and multiple Title IX complaints,’” Ms. Putnam said.

They told the students to take care of themselves and take care of each other, they said. They were in and out in less than five minutes.

They have now been charged with ‘dishonesty’, although Fordham has also suspended Jaworski– which would seem to indicate their truthfulness. Read more.

(Thanks, J-Bro!)

Lawsuit against Kipnis moves forward

A judge decided Tuesday to proceed with a lawsuit filed by a graduate student against Communication Prof. Laura Kipnis and HarperCollins Publishers, declining to grant a motion filed by the defendants in July to dismiss the suit…

The student, using the pseudonym Jane Doe, filed the suit in May in response to Kipnis’ book, “Unwanted Advances: Sexual Paranoia Comes to Campus.” In the book, Kipnis criticizes Northwestern’s Title IX procedures, detailing Kipnis’ experience with the process and discussing two Title IX complaints filed by Doe and another student against former philosophy Prof. Peter Ludlow accusing him of sexual assault.

Doe’s suit alleges that the book, which has received national attention, intentionally misrepresents facts and publishes private and unnecessary details about her. As quoted in the Tuesday order, the lawsuit calls “Unwanted Advances” a book “that — page after page — exposes extremely private and painful parts of Plaintiff’s life, makes false statements about her conduct, brands her a vengeful liar and turns this promising young graduate student’s life upside down for the entire world to see.”

Doe filed the suit on four counts, according to the order: public disclosure of private facts, false light invasion of privacy, defamation and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

This case is so very important, not just to philosophy but to the protection of victims’ rights. Read more here.

UCU Sexual Harassment Helpline

The UCU (union for most academics in the UK) has just opened a sexual harassment hotline, which is an excellent initiative.

This is a dedicated service for UCU members which any UCU member can reach on 0800 138 8724.  The helpline is in collaboration with Education Support Partnership (Ed Support).  Any member who has concerns or is experiencing sexual harassment can call 0800 138 8724 in confidence, free of charge and 24/7 to talk about their experience, discuss options, receive counselling (if clinically appropriate) and details of further sources of support, if necessary.

This is in addition to the workplace support from your branch. The helpline is an opportunity to discuss confidentiality your experience and talk through what you want to do next which may include asking your branch to support you take action against your employer. Many branches are now creating a named contact for sexual harassment cases and we are urging branches to adopt this approach and the model policy.

UCU is fully committed to eradicating sexual violence and harassment. Please call if you need to – we want to support you in every way we can.

What to expect when calling the service:

The call handlers will read out a confidentiality and code of ethics statement, take a few details and will ask you to discuss the issue you are experiencing. Ed Support’s specialists assess each call individually to locate the best course of action for you. Please note that if you request a call-back or are expecting a follow up call from the helpline this will appear on your phone as a withheld number for confidentiality reasons. If you need to get back in touch or enquire about a call-back to the service, please ring 0800 138 8724  or email them here – please include UCU sexual harassment helpline in your email subject and in the body of the email so they direct you to the right place.

If the lines are particularly busy or out of hours you may find that your call is answered by a specialist in a global service centre. This is to make sure as many calls are answered as possible so distressed callers are not being put through to an answer machine. Please rest assured that all specialists are suitably qualified and trained and your call will be handled in the best way possible.

Helpful advice for academics

A nameless YouTuber offers some timely, helpful advice for professors interested in dating their students. You can watch here.

(And, since it’s 2017 and everything is awful, it is worth flagging in advance that the video is satirical, and that it includes a sweary word.)

Weinstein, Westminster, and Philosophy

An article by Helen Beebee and Heather Widdows.

We don’t pretend for a moment that this is an easy problem to solve. We ourselves have in the past been guilty of failing to take proportionate action. We’ve been talking and reflecting, and there are things we would now do differently, different actions we’d have taken, different discussions we’d have had at department level and higher (rather than between ourselves) and different policies we’d have advocated for. We did some of this, we tried, but … in hindsight we should have done more: there was so much more that could have been done, and we feel bad about this. But hindsight is important: figuring out what you could have done differently is an important step towards doing things differently next time.

Read the whole thing.