Dankprofessor’s Weblog

A weblog examining sexual politics in higher education and beyond.

Daily Iowan gets it right

The dankprofessor is in awe re the Daily Iowan’s editorial of February 26 on the response of the UI administration to the UI sexual harassment problem.  Following are the two key paragraphs from said editorial

But the nature of this particular resource (sexual harassmnt training) is foundationally suspect. It lends itself more to calming the ripples of an upset image and hand-hidden gossip caused by the accusations, and subsequent suicides, of Arthur Miller and Mark Weiger, and not the more latent problem of harassment itself. As a reaction to general publicity of sexual harassment, the university is setting up this “training” program, which changes neither the effectiveness nor application of existing policy but merely draws attention to the problem and some of its potential solutions. The program is disingenuous because all it manages to accomplish is a heightened atmosphere of what could be called paranoia, in the sense that the main thrust of the university is to scrub away the blemishes left by the “scandals” themselves and not the root causes: ignorance and disrespect.

Students need ready options for this kind of education, but the tactic of pure “brochure-ism” is not working. A forum of discussion and support could provide the groundwork for a solid system for counteracting harassment, involving all tiers of academic society. In fact, this might resolve into a culture of safety instead of one of apparent vanity. Reiterating and drawing attention to policy will not affect its success. We need a more efficient method of creating a safe, educational environment, not merely reactive measures of highlighting previously existing programs while ignoring their faults.


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February 26, 2009 - Posted by | ethics, higher education, sex, sexual harassment, sexual politics, suicide, University of Iowa

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