A Dean’s Reflection on Campus Sexual Misconduct Cases: "Fleming, Marcy, and now Choudhry...:
...In each of these high-level sexual harassment cases at UC Berkeley over the past year there was also high-level of misjudgment at the top of our campus administration. In the most recent case, former Dean Choudhry admitted to sexually harassing his Executive Assistant. While he claimed no bad intent, the impact of his behavior severely disrupted the career of a capable woman....
The investigation by the campus Office for the Prevention of Harassment and Discrimination (OPHD) was completed in July 2015 and found that Dean Choudhry had committed sexual harassment against his Executive Assistant. The highly redacted investigation report may have made a recommendation for administrative action in response – it is part of their charge – but we may never know. The Chancellor and Provost did make decisions and the outcome was that the assistant’s career was interrupted and she left her job on administrative leave. Former Dean Choudhry, however, was permitted to remain... [with] the ability to continue to hire and supervise staff and students.... Choudhry was recently featured as a keynote speaker at the February 2016 meeting of the UC Berkeley Foundation Board of Trustees’ meeting held in Los Angeles, where he spoke about his rise to becoming a Dean at Berkeley. How could our University administration choose him as a featured speaker nearly eight months after his admission of sexual harassment and while he was still under sanction?...
Now we find that Graham Fleming, after having been dismissed as the Vice Chancellor for Research following a sexual harassment finding against him, was appointed an ambassador for the Chancellor’s initiative to create a Global Campus in Richmond. Fleming’s female assistant, who also committed sexual assault, had been appropriately fired but long after her finding of guilt. It took intervention from the UC President in Oakland to put a stop to Fleming’s current work.
Sunday’s San Francisco Chronicle quotes a Berkeley spokesperson saying that the Chancellor has been ‘thinking deeply’ about the situation in which he finds himself. The deep thinking is a year too late...
I confess that my reaction is basically: WTF?!?!?!
And I find the following train of thought running through my brain:
I forget whether it was then-Harvard Economics Chair Michael Spence or then-Harvard Social Studies Chair David Landes who told us starting graduate students back in 1982: "Don't hit on undergraduate students.
"They cannot know whether you really like them, or whether you are trying to get them to trade sex for the grades, teaching, and mentorship they are entitled to as a member of course.
"Not only can they not know what you are doing, you cannot know what you are doing. Your understanding of your own psychology is very limited."
It seems obvious that this applies not just to undergrads, but to graduate students, staff, junior colleagues--everybody over whom one has any degree of power or for whom one has some degree of responsibility.
And it seems equally obvious that those who do not understand (1) through (3) have no business holding any administrative position in any university.
But what do we think of those who seek to retain in administrative posts deans, directors, and vice provosts who clearly fail to understand (1) through (3)?