SEXUAL HARASSMENT – DEAL WITH INSTITUTIONAL CULTURE

Edited on 3/12/16 to add a SEVENTH UC-Berkeley case.

The internet is abuzz with the latest sexual harassment case to hit UC-Berkeley, that of Sujit Choudhry, Dean of Law School. This comes on the heals of Geoff Marcy’s resignation – that case captured attention because of Marcy’s research prowess and his long history of sexually harassing women with whom he worked. In addition, it is unclear how UC-Berkeley dealt with sexual harassment complaints made about Marcy over a decade or more.

The suggestion has been made that maybe now UC-Berkeley will “get it right” and will truly deal with sexual harassment on campus. But will they? Below is a list of SIX sexual harassment cases involving Berkeley (taken from the longer list of national cases)- these are just the ones reported outside of the campus. Notice that two Deans of the Law School resigned under sexual harassment complaints – one in 2002 and the most recent case. Another case of sexual harassment by a faculty member stretches back to 1980. I don’t believe Berkeley is unique in dealing with individual transgressors through resignation or internal punishment rather than addressing larger systemic issues. In fact – I made a list for Yale below, just to illustrate the point that institutions can have multiple cases of sexual harassment that make the news and yet still not know how to effectively stop the harassment from happening in the first place.

Institutions need to stop addressing sexual harassment as it occurs, and need to start addressing it as a symptom of an institutional problem. A culture that permits sexual harassment, tells victims to deal with it so they don’t hurt their careers, works to protect the harasser from negative impacts – this is what needs to change.

University of California-Berkeley

  1. 1980: Elbaki Hermassi, University of California-Berkeley. SUSPENDED WITHOUT PAY FOR ONE QUARTER. http://www.thecrimson.com/article/1980/2/2/sexual-harassment-psan-jose-cal-two-eay/
  2. 1991: Michel Strickmann, University of California-Berkeley. FIRED. http://chronicle.com/article/Tenured-Professor-Dismissed-at/78974
  3. 2002: John P. Dwyer, Dean of Law School, University of California-Berkeley. RESIGNED. http://articles.latimes.com/2002/dec/09/local/me-dwyer9
  4. 2012: Diane Leite, Assistant Vice Chancellor, University of California-Berkeley. REASSIGNED TO NEW POSITION. http://www.mercurynews.com/ci_20183348/uc-berkeley-professors-condemn-light-punishment-administrator
  5. 2014: Graham Fleming, Vice Chancellor for Research, University of California-Berkeley. RESIGNED. http://www.dailycal.org/2015/04/12/uc-berkeley-vice-chancellor-for-research-resigns-after-sexual-harassment-allegations/
  6. 2016: Sujit Choudhry, Dean of Law School, University of California–Berkeley. 10-PERCENT REDUCTION IN SALARY FOR ONE-YEAR, LEAVE OF ABSENCE FROM DEANSHIP, BACK ON FACULTY. http://chronicle.com/blogs/ticker/berkeley-law-school-dean-sued-for-sexual-harassment/109355
  7. 2015: Geoff Marcy, University of California-Berkeley. RESIGNED, NOW EMERITUS FACULTY. http://www.buzzfeed.com/azeenghorayshi/famous-astronomer-allegedly-sexually-harassed-students

Yale

  1. 1992: Stephen Kellert, Yale. DISCIPLINED (DETAILS UNKNOWN). http://www.thecrimson.com/article/1992/11/16/yale-disciplines-faculty-member-for-sexual/
  2. 1993: Name UnKnown, Yale University. RESIGNED. http://articles.courant.com/1993-01-01/news/0000107860_1_harassment-cases-sexual-harassment-harassment-complaints
  3. 1996: Jay Jorgenson, Yale. REPRIMANDED. http://articles.courant.com/1996-11-09/news/9611090293_1_sexual-harassment-grievance-board-jay-jorgenson
  4. 2007: Joseph Schlessinger, Yale. LAWSUIT SETTLED. http://yaledailynews.com/blog/2006/12/01/univ-faces-harassment-lawsuit/ and http://archives.yalealumnimagazine.com/issues/2007_07/l_v.html
  5. 2013: John Coleman Darnell, Yale. ONE YEAR SUSPENSION. http://yaledailynews.com/blog/2013/01/10/darnell-resigns-as-dept-chair-following-relationship-with-student/
  6. 2015: Michael Simons, Yale. 18-MONTH SUSPENSION, THEN RESIGNED. http://www.nytimes.com/2014/11/02/us/handling-of-sexual-harassment-case-poses-larger-questions-at-yale.html?_r=0
  7. 2015: Rex L. Mahnensmith, Yale. RESIGNED. http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/14/us/former-yale-medical-professor-accused-of-sexual-harassment.html?_r=0
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