March 10, 2016

The dean of Berkeley's law school has taken an indefinite leave of absence after an investigation into accusations of sexual harassment.

"The complaint states that when [Sujit] Choudhry took over as dean of the law school in July 2014, he gave [executive assistant Tyann] Sorrell unwanted bear hugs and kisses, among other sexual contact from July 2014 to March 2015," The Daily Californian reports.
In July, UC Berkeley’s Office for the Prevention of Harassment and Discrimination found that Choudhry had violated the university’s sexual harassment policies, according to the complaint. During the investigation, Choudhry allegedly admitted to hugging, kissing, messaging or caressing Sorrell at least multiple times per week, as well as hugging and kissing other female employees.
Messaging? I'm going to assume that was supposed to read "massaging."

Anyway, I don't know what actually happened, but I'm a little puzzled by what might have been an openly displayed "huggy" style. I don't quite understand why, if there were rules against it, he didn't quickly learn that it wasn't considered acceptable. Is the accusation that he was actually seeking sexual intimacy or just that he was going for a warm, family-style feeling that he thought was good?

41 comments:

rhhardin said...

Human warmth is not permitted if two sexes are involved.

Rae said...

How does someone get to the position of Dean of Law without knowing "getting handsy" letting alone "tonguesy" is a BIG NONO in today's workplace. It puts you and your employer in danger of exactly this. Cripes, I had to watch training videos at the local realtor association because of idiots like this.

SteveR said...

Is the accusation that he was actually seeking sexual intimacy or just that he was going for a warm, family-style feeling that he thought was good?

Depends on what the meaning of "is" is/

Mike near Seattle said...

Did she say no?

Expat(ish) said...

Uh, wasn't July like, you know, eight months ago?

-XC

Curious George said...

"Messaging? I'm going to assume that was supposed to read "massaging."

No, I think they mean sexting.

Big Mike said...

I think Tyann Sorrell needs to take classes become more sensitized to Indian-American culture. How she got to the responsible position of executive assistant without understanding Hindu culture is beyond me.

Chuck said...

It could be either "messaging," or "massaging." I was in agreement with Professor Althouse on first reading. Now, I am not so sure.

I wondered whether an auto-correct feature turned a correct spelling into something else, or whether a writer's misspelling of "massaging" was ignored now that we live in an era where "messaging" is a new verb?

What about the word "messaging"? There is email, text, Twitter, Instagram, and nowadays too many other ways to digitally communicate. Is "messaging" a good catch-all for digital communication?

RonF said...

Because just telling him "I'm not a touchy person, sorry" and asking him to stop doesn't give you the opportunity to exercise power by playing the victim publicly and getting someone fired.

n.n said...

So reactive. Viva la sexual revolucion!

Ann Althouse said...

"No, I think they mean sexting."

No, you wouldn't have that in this sequence: "hugging, kissing, messaging or caressing."

MadisonMan said...

Did she say no?

I think the default in the workplace should be Don't touch.

But I'm a frosty nordic, not a warm and effusive south Asian.

robinintn said...

"Is the accusation that he was actually seeking sexual intimacy or just that he was going for a warm, family-style feeling that he thought was good?"

I'm assuming it's a purposely vague accusation, so when it's refuted, it can be adjusted to say it hasn't been refuted. The accuser ALWAYS wins.

Curious George said...

"Ann Althouse said...
"No, I think they mean sexting."

No, you wouldn't have that in this sequence: "hugging, kissing, messaging or caressing."

Why not. They can all be a form of harassment.

Darrell said...

Chief Inspector Jacques Clouseau could make that sequence work.

traditionalguy said...

The need to sexualize relationship of the man with authority to hire and fire with His Women that answer to him is an old abuse of women. If an Academic Dean cannot control himself, he needs to be fired. Either that or only attractive single women on birth control should be hired
there. Think of it as a Dr Strangelove solution.

So many women, so little time.


YoungHegelian said...

Well, did he ever invite her to his "group" seminar on the Kama Sutra?

That would be a tell for sure.

glenn said...

Dad told me not to mix my p*****r with my paycheck. So I never did. Dad was right.

Psota said...

I live in "Huggy" California and have never liked the hug culture out here. People must get that vibe from me because I'm usually not the recipient of unwanted hugs.

The dean was way out of line, and maybe socially maladroit in not being able to pick up on his assistant's negative response, but I do think people have a personal responsibility to carry themselves in a way that disinvites unwanted touching.

Rick said...

I don't quite understand why, if there were rules against it, he didn't quickly learn that it wasn't considered acceptable.

He probably thought he was high enough the rules didn't apply to him. If so the joke's on him, only people who make the law can get high enough to be above it.

David said...

He didn't realize that he is required to crawl along on the ground, probing every move with a blunt knife to check for hidden explosive devices. Fool.

Mary Beth said...

Maybe Indians are a more huggy, touchy people and the staff at Berkeley are just racist and not sensitive to his culture. Or maybe worry about appearing insensitive to his habits (regardless whether it's cultural or just a personal behavior) is what kept anyone from saying, "please don't do that" until so much time had passed that it would seem like saying it would come off as "I don't like YOU" rather than "I don't like THAT".

damikesc said...

Truly, I'm shocked that one of the most progressive institutions in America is unable to live up to their lofty ideals.

I don't think what he did was offensive --- but, no doubt, HE claimed it was for years.

rcocean said...

Look, if you don't like something someone does at work, tell them. And if they do it again, complain to HR.

its that simple.

rcocean said...

I'm not a touchy person, and if someone gave me a "bear Hug" - I'd tell them not to do it again.

Bay Area Guy said...

We should cut to the chase at UC Berkeley:

New Rule: "Every person in a position of authority on the Campus, who is not a member of Gay,Lesbian, Transgendered, Cis-gendered, Minority community is, by definition, presumed to be a sexist, chauvinist, racist, fascist, potential rapist, and sexual harasser."

This will speed up the administrative expulsion hearings for all male professors, administrators and Frat boys. Maybe, the men's water polo team, too.


JCC said...

"...other sexual contact from July 2014 to March 2015..."

"In July, UC Berkeley’s Office for the Prevention of Harassment and Discrimination found that Choudhry had violated..."

So he got grabby for 9 months, and then it took e year from when this started for a resolution? What the hell, I mean this wasn't some kind of complicated crime scene or something. It just involved asked a few people what happened and what they saw. All that time smells more like "We're thinking this over."

Hagar said...

A stranger hugging me would get frostbite, figuratively speaking, and I have never had such a person try it twice.

Doug said...

rc ocean said:
I'm not a touchy person, and if someone gave me a "bear Hug" - I'd tell them not to do it again.
You are obviously a male and a chauvinist in the bargain. Where did you come up with the wild notion that womyn are supposed to be able to verbalize their desires and wishes?

Doug said...

You, too, Hagar.

Skeptical Voter said...

From the story, it appears that the complainant has played the victim card before. Boalt is my alma mater and standards for deans have slipped. A pox on all their houses.

Anthony said...

Why are Leftist institutions such hotbeds of sexual harassment?

damikesc said...

Why are Leftist institutions such hotbeds of sexual harassment?

Also racism.

Funny, before Progressives took over colleges, rapes were far less frequent an issue. Now, according to statistics, 129% of all college women will be raped.

Fred Drinkwater said...

Hmm. I've worked with many many southwest asians (Indians & Pakistanis, Hindu and Muslim) and have never, as in not even once, seem them to be culturally huggy folks at work, even among their co-nationalists. He sounds like a creep.
Also, like JCC, I'm wondering what took so long? If this had been a student (i.e. paying customer) so accused, he'd have been banished without pay and without right of counsel two years ago.

Ann Althouse said...

"No, you wouldn't have that in this sequence: "hugging, kissing, messaging or caressing." Why not. They can all be a form of harassment."

It's not normal to put those ideas in that order. I know it COULD fit as another accusation of harassment, but you wouldn't write it up like that, having it third in a set of things that are all physical contact. With one letter change, all 4 become physical contact.

Also "messaging" would normally not just be set apart but modified to indicate sex messaging.

Mountain Maven said...

Time to retire if you don't get why he was scanned.

Curious George said...

"Ann Althouse said...
"No, you wouldn't have that in this sequence: "hugging, kissing, messaging or caressing." Why not. They can all be a form of harassment."

It's not normal to put those ideas in that order. I know it COULD fit as another accusation of harassment, but you wouldn't write it up like that, having it third in a set of things that are all physical contact. With one letter change, all 4 become physical contact.

Also "messaging" would normally not just be set apart but modified to indicate sex messaging."

Says you. Read the tortured bios of the authors. This isn't the NYT, it's a dumb student paper.

Birkel said...

Did he invite her to the pants party?

Birkel said...

(Anchorman reference ^^)

openidname said...

Of course, instead of arguing over the contextual linguistic appropriateness of "messaging," you could just read one of the hundreds of other newspaper articles, which make it clear that the crucial conduct consitsted of "massaging." E.g.:

http://www.sacbee.com/opinion/editorials/article65087237.html

Howard Nelson said...

Let's demand an investigation into what her-ass-meant to him -- as a guide to therapy of course. Was he experiencing an affection infection caused by a bite from the loathsome Tasmanian zipper fly?