December 19, 2017

"Columbia is now a safer institution because of Jane Doe’s courage. Jane Doe can proceed in life knowing she made a material difference..."

"... in one of the premier institutions of higher education and meaningfully participated in a cultural moment of significance for all Americans."

Said the lawyer for a woman who sued Columbia University and a professor. There is now a settlement of the case, the NYT reports in "Columbia Professor Retires in Settlement of Sexual Harassment Lawsuit." Notice the highlighting of the claim against the professor.
[A]n anonymous graduate student filed a lawsuit against [Dr. William V. Harris, a renowned Greco-Roman historian and longtime professor at Columbia University,] alleging that he had kissed and groped her repeatedly while he was her academic mentor, and then disparaged her to colleagues when she rebuffed his advances. 
But I'm more interested in the claim against the university "for what she called its 'deliberate indifference' to her complaints about him." The professor is gone now. Columbia University remains. It's relatively easy to de-activate the individual predator, but the institution lives on, replacing the de-activated predator with new potential predators, and what has changed? What was even wrong in the first place?

Professor Harris is 79 years old. Who knows what he's admitted he did and whether he considers it wrong? Moving him into retirement isn't much of a change, but enough was done to appease "Jane Doe," apparently. And the NYT presents the case in terms of the old man's retirement. But if you read to the end, you can see some coverage of the dissatisfaction among graduate students. One student observes that retirement isn't much of a consequence for Harris — "He shouldn’t get to retire... He should be fired." And:
"[I]t’s not enough and it certainly doesn’t change the culture that allowed him to thrive and continue to abuse his graduate students over the course of decades... There is a fervent desire to view this as an isolated instance rather than symptomatic of a culture that deprecates women and doesn’t take the concerns seriously.”
I absolutely agree with that. What has Columbia changed about itself? From an earlier NYT article about this lawsuit:
Columbia’s handling of sexual misconduct accusations has come under fire before, most prominently after an undergraduate student carried a mattress around campus for a year in protest after the university cleared a man she said had raped her. In July, Columbia settled a lawsuit that the man, Paul Nungesser, had filed over the university’s treatment of him; Columbia said it would review its policies.
It's not easy to figure out what the policies should be, as the case of the 2 students —  Paul Nungesser and Emma Sulkowicz — showed. You can't just pick a side and lean heavily in that direction. The answer should have something to do with paying attention to the evidence and figuring out a fair resolution. But what happened in one particular student interaction is a very different problem from a professor who goes on for years and years exerting power over students. I'd like to see a lot more from Columbia than that it's reviewing its policies.

36 comments:

David Hampton said...

The olde "nothing to see here, move along, we have the situation under review."i The old "shuck and jive" don"t want to upset the alumnae and the status quo.

rhhardin said...

The situation takes care of itself without Columbia doing anything.

If the professor is bothering you sue the professor or go someplace else or get another professor.

Make the world safe for women by growing up.

hawkeyedjb said...

Luckily, we have institutions outside the university that have expertise in fact finding and investigation. Unluckily, universities are reluctant to employ them, preferring to rely on their own non-experts and victim hierarchy to determine truth. It is a very bad choice for both the men and the women at the school, and financially expensive. But it is a choice that has support among those who really don't want too much truth to be introduced into the process.

Expat(ish) said...

Cui bono?

All the people in his department who are rid of a relic. Now they can fight over his office space and grants and divide the spoils. Plus they can try to get a protege off tenure-track and into tenure committee.

So the institution benefits.

-XC

MadisonMan said...

Institutions should not allow geezers to continue working. 79 and he's still there, sucking up space? When was the last time an original thought emerged from his calcifying brain? You can step aside and make way for young blood, you know. In fact, it's cheaper all around if you do!

Applies to both Columbia and Congress, I guess.

n.n said...

Pro-Choice deprecates dignity and value pf women, men, and human life. Its deference to fantasy and out of order logic denies women's agency. We've been on a progressive slope ever since.

rhhardin said...

Design a sex robot for old professors. It would have to learn though. Tutoring.

Teaching is the erotic experience.

That's somewhere in Kenneth Burke.

Danno said...

I can't remember the last time I heard anything about mattress girl. And that's a good thing.

rhhardin said...

Why the feminine ending on mattress.

Rob McLean said...

The answer should have something to do with paying attention to the evidence and figuring out a fair resolution.

What? Nobody's interested in that. To the barricades...!

Ann Althouse said...

"I can't remember the last time I heard anything about mattress girl. And that's a good thing."

The last time (before I wrote this post) that I heard of her was earlier this morning when I was reading the comments to yesterday's Kirsten Gillebrand post.

"Phil 3:14 said...Sen. Gillibrand should carry around a mattress until Franken resigns!"

Rick said...

I absolutely agree with that. What has Columbia changed about itself?

How can you agree with this without first establishing what Columbia was in the first place?

Shouting Thomas said...

You sure as hell aren't going to get a job out of going to graduate school in Greco-Roman history. All you'll get is debt.

Fucking the professors was the most fun thing about college back in the 60s. Female profs were in on it, too.

That used to be one of the attractions of college.

Your prissy schoolmarm prudery is wearing me out, Ann. What's your ass made out of... gold, delicate crystal, explosives that might detonate upon touch?

You've got a second career as a junior high school principal on the horizon. You could drive teenage boys crazy with boredom, inactivity and sexless drudgery. You would really enjoy dragging the poor bastards into your office and delivering the lecture.

Remember when I said I was an outlaw? You were clearly confused because you think that means committing suicide in a heroic ball of flame for your romantic edification. I'm an outlaw against you. Living in the dreary junior high school principal world you love is what I've been fighting my entire life. You love the office politics of that hell of a shit hole. That's why you're a fag hag. Fag hags love that S&M shit.

By the way, I succeeded. Retired and financially secure and out of reach of the fag hags.

Shouting Thomas said...

Althouse and her Weird Sisters have been incredibly successful, haven't they?

The office work environment is now modeled after a junior high school classroom. Fag hag teacher at the top with her retinue of gay teacher's pets. Goody two shoe girl students next. Dirty boys at the bottom.

Althouse and her Weird Sisters call this "equality."

Danno said...

"Phil 3:14 said...Sen. Gillibrand should carry around a mattress until Franken resigns!"

More than too funny!

Although I would never vote for Al Franken, I too think he was sacrificed on the altar of today's sexual witchhunt.

Big Mike said...

Dear MadMan, wait until you’re a geezer and tell us whether your brain is “calcified.” At 71 I am smarter, more creative, and more open to new ideas than any Millennial I’ve ever met.

MayBee said...

Ann Althouse said...
"I can't remember the last time I heard anything about mattress girl. And that's a good thing."

The last time (before I wrote this post) that I heard of her was earlier this morning when I was reading the comments to yesterday's Kirsten Gillebrand post.

"Phil 3:14 said...Sen. Gillibrand should carry around a mattress until Franken resigns!"


That was a genius comment and I meant to give Phil credit for making me laugh yesterday. Bravo, Phil!!!

Mac McConnell said...

Retirement and demotions are how liberal institutions protect themselves, Loise Lerner, FBI and DOJ, etc. Or they just ignore the situation like the Wisconsin DOJ, no one really suffers any consequences personally for their crimes.

Mac McConnell said...

"Phil 3:14 said...Sen. Gillibrand should carry around a mattress until Franken resigns!"

Thread winner, I'm going to use that, funny and true. Sen Gillibrand is intellectually and morally bankrupt.

holdfast said...

I believe his students referred to his advances as “Greco-Roman Wrestling”.

EDH said...

Greco-Roman history?

I'm surprised the complainant's pseudonym wasn't Liitle Jimmy Doe, or Goat #3.

Michael said...

Again, the "decades" of behavior now springing, in winter, to light. Ah the toughness of women, the bravery. Such bullshit.

Sebastian said...

@MM: "Institutions should not allow geezers to continue working." Would require a change in federal law, I suspect. But that's feminist legislation I could support: defeat whining about ageism as defense of white male supremacist patriarchy.

tcrosse said...

I'm surprised the complainant's pseudonym wasn't Liitle Jimmy Doe, or Goat #3.

Or Libby Doe.

I Have Misplaced My Pants said...

ST is way more fun to read when we can imagine him being an Althouse sockpuppet.

lgv said...

"..Jane Doe can proceed knowing she made a MATTRESS difference..."

That's how I read it at first. Probably because the first word was Columbia. AA failed to note the material difference in the two cases. One was student against student, the other student against professor. For some reason, I think it makes a difference.

tcrosse said...

ST is way more fun to read when we can imagine him being an Althouse sockpuppet.

ST is way more fun to read when we can imagine him being a Meade sockpuppet.

lgv said...

Maybe she mistook his demonstration of Greco-Roman wrestling as groping, when it was a legitimate part of her studies.

wildswan said...

It's difficult for women to advance because "mentoring" is seen by many men - but not all or even a majority - but by many as a way to pressure younger women into sex. Someone is your advisor, the guy helps you for awhile, then he begins making comments, then sharing his fantasies. He works his way forward toward home plate and, meanwhile, you are writing a thesis. You need his help and if you make him mad you won't get that help. Somehow, that has become clear. And if you turn him down you will make him mad. You will make him mad because social life on campus is dominated by the hook-up culture so you can't pretend you don't have casual encounters (even if you don't, because you might.) You have to say - to a guy - what amounts to this: "Yes, I do have casual encounters but only with guys I find attractive. That's not you. Now, will you get back to helping me?" And, ladies, we all know how well that would work. You try to finesse. And, on college campuses, end in mess. Your thesis advisor is not going to help you or your thesis advisor is helping himself and still won't help you because he has never tried to help you become a professional (yeah, yeah, ha, ha) And that scenario is what I hope The Reckoning would change on college campuses.

And we women can't get justice by means of injustice. Yet these days an established, almost preferred, mode of change is simply to impose injustice on some other group. So The Reckoning has to negotiate that dangerous stretch of white water. We won't come out with the change we want unless we hold ourselves to the standard we want adopted. We have to be professional and fair ourselves, no matter what the provocation.

Rick said...

AA failed to note the material difference in the two cases. One was student against student, the other student against professor.


You mean besides this:

"But what happened in one particular student interaction is a very different problem from a professor who goes on for years and years exerting power over students."

buwaya said...

Segregated schools were made so for good reasons.
That should be the norm again.
Separate but equal means no friction between men and women, at least not within the walls of the institutions or the purview of their administrators.
I suspect that university politics, at least on the mens side, will be far more sane.
What will happen to the women I dont know.

It should also go without saying that the faculty should be segregated also.

LarsPorsena said...

a renowned Greco-Roman historian

He was exercising his Caligula privilege.

Inga said...

“Remember when I said I was an outlaw? You were clearly confused because you think that means committing suicide in a heroic ball of flame for your romantic edification. I'm an outlaw against you. Living in the dreary junior high school principal world you love is what I've been fighting my entire life. You love the office politics of that hell of a shit hole. That's why you're a fag hag. Fag hags love that S&M shit.

By the way, I succeeded. Retired and financially secure and out of reach of the fag hags.”

LOL! What a drama queen.

lgv said...

Blogger Rick said...
AA failed to note the material difference in the two cases. One was student against student, the other student against professor.


You mean besides this:

"But what happened in one particular student interaction is a very different problem from a professor who goes on for years and years exerting power over students."

I meant in terms of how the university acted or I should say failed to act in the student/professor. I think AA rightly posits it far more important to address the student/professor situation. My point is that the actions of the university were the exact opposite. There was less desire to address the conflict because he was a professor.

Gahrie said...

Segregated schools were made so for good reasons.

When talking of gender I agree, but not just at the college level. High schools, and maybe even Jr. High/Middle schools should be sex segregated also.

Kirk Parker said...

Pants, tcrosse:

You're both amusing, but in all seriousness ST is better reading in small doses.

The flamboyantly-expressed outrage wears quickly, but behind that veneer there are some chunks of legitimate criticism.