Since I've started teaching for the Institute of Women's Studies, I've found myself a lot more involved in the politics of the University of Georgia. There is a ton of activism on and around campus which is awesome. What isn't so awesome is the need
for activism. UGA is embarrassingly behind on things like family leave, child care
and living wage
for staff members. We don't have a women's center.
And we don't have an Ombuds office to report sexual harassment
. Keep in mind we are the state's flagship university and have over 30,000 students. Inexcusable if you ask me.
The sexual harassment issue has been a biggie this semester. It has been a big issue ALWAYS, but the university's inability to deal with the variety of cases is just making news this year. To give you a recap.....
* We've had a professor receive tenure and be promoted
all while receiving over 15 years of complaints of sexual harassment
*Upon reports of that case, documents surfaced
of four other professors accused and kept on staff. And one professor who UGA help get ANOTHER JOB AT ANOTHER UNIVERSITY (from which he has since been fired)
* Our women's golf coach resigned and admitted
to sexual wrong doing with his team (including making them watch Paris Hilton's sex tape and inappropriately touching his team members) but was kept on staff while being paid over 90,000 dollars
Obviously to say we've had a wee problem with sexual harassment is an understatement. And to say that our administration needs to do a better job articulating that they take sexual harassment seriously is a HUGE understatement.
So imagine everyone's surprise when it was announced last week
that our administration has selected Clarence Thomas as our May commencement speaker. I know! I was shocked as well. Surely the administration wouldn't deliberately choose someone with a less than stellar record on sexual harassment?! Surely the administration wouldn't want to give a big slap in the face to all the faculty members who have worked hard to raise awareness about sexual harassment?! But, oh yes, they would.
Chaos has ensued. And the thing that bothers me most about this whole decision is the way people who articulate any dissent are being treated. WMST faculty are not saying Thomas can't speak. They do say they prefer he doesn't. But they support his right to free speech. However, they are also calling for an open discussion about Thomas' past
. They are looking to the administration to DO MORE TO COMMUNICATE THAT WOMEN MATTER.
If you have a moment, please take a look at the comments. Look at how students and community members communicate with faculty members speaking out against Thomas. It is shameful.
These are my favorites:I'm very surprised he was invited given the super bed wetting liberals that run this university and town. I'm sure you would all whine if Bill Clinton was coming too???
It would be nice if some college professors would "grow up". Better yet, try to get a job in the private sector instead of playing "school" for your entire life. Some of you need a taste of the real world. For those who object to Judge Thomas, I bet you wouldn't have a problem with Bill Clinton.
I also love how all the commenters call the professors "Mrs." Not DOCTOR. Not Ms. Not by their names. But "Mrs."
Classy. The WMST building is also getting harassing phone calls. But it is starting to make national news
. I can't wait to see how the rest of the country feels about the hate and ignorance that runs abound here.
So, yes, I'm counting down the days. Counting down the days until I leave this university. To be sure, I'm getting a good education here. I love my department, my colleagues and Athens. But the decision making on this campus infuriates me. And I think the discussions that take place on this campus reflects the administration. There is a lack of respect for faculty--especially female faculty. The students are learning it from somewhere.