The NYT reports on the incident at the University of California, Berkeley, in which the dean of the law school, Sujit Choudhry, received a confidential and mild punishment after his executive assistant, Tyann Sorrell, complained that he had sexually harassed her. Sorrell was told to look for another job, while Choudhry kept his. The dispute became public when Sorrell filed a lawsuit. 400+ alumni signed a letter calling the punishment "feeble" and "threaten[ing] to withhold future donations until he was fired."
Janet Napolitano — who was President Obama's Secretary of Homeland Security from 2009 to 2013 — is the president of the University of California system. She "said she was upset that she had learned of his case from the news media
barred Choudhry from campus for the rest of the term and ordered
disciplinary proceedings that could ultimately result in stripping him
Choudhry's lawyer sent a letter to Napolitano charging that he'd been deprived of due process and that the school had "lumped" his case in with other sexual harassment problems at Berkeley, making him "a scapegoat for any
shortcomings, real or perceived, in the university’s handling of sexual
harassment claims and related policies and procedures."
Napolitano gave an interview to the NYT, which gives us scant information about what was said. We're told "she stood by her order to keep Mr. Choudhry off campus." And we get this distanced quote: "I think our society at large has undervalued sexual harassment in the workplace...It’s gone on in many professions for decades. We are a public university, and we ought to be leading by example, not by mistake."
You want to set examples? You are the president of the system. Why hadn't you already figured out how to handle accusations of sexual harassment adequately? Why did you only hear of the case through the news reports? If you're upset about how little you yourself knew, and if the system over which you preside has been inadequate to handle complaints, what "example" should be set against yourself?
Napolitano is both too general and too specific. She says: "our society at large has undervalued sexual harassment in the workplace" when it should be "The University of California has undervalued sexual harassment." And she takes a severe action against Choudhry, but only after his case became an embarrassment to her. She says she's "leading by example," but what's the example? Undervaluing due process to deflect attention away from systemic failure?