Let’s tenure the serial harassers

Posted: October 23, 2010 by Jender in sexual harassment

When I was a graduate student in the early nineties, a professor from a different department attended many philosophy talks. This professor was a serious sexual harasser–he had pornography on his screen when female students came into his office; he took ballet classes just to scope out and periodically grope the female students; he stared at women students’ breasts while they were talking, and so on. At one point he attended a dinner after one of the philosophy talks and asked that I drive him. While in the car, he expressed an interest in my sex life and asked if I was having an affair with a particular male student. I was married. I officially reported this incident as sexual harassment to the university’s Title 9 office. They requested that I convince other women to come forward. Nine other women from his department came forward anonymously with episodes of harassment and one other woman graduate student from philosophy came forward with her name attached. When I went to the Department of Philosophy chair to update him on the situation and to request that the Department of Philosophy at least request that he no longer attend philosophy talks, the department chair said, “No problem. No one in the department likes him. He’s an asshole.” He did agree to disinvite him from future talks. But there are assholes and there are assholes who are sexual harassers. Not all men appear to get the significant difference. The harassing professor received tenure the following year. Sigh.

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