- 2 years ago
Regular bee going anon because if I report this to anyone, I don’t want this tied back to me. (I may also delete this if I choose to report it.)
TL;DR version- A colleague from a different university made questionable comments on sexual harassment and assault on another colleague’s FaceBook status. I don’t know if I should do anything, or what I should do.
I am a graduate student in science at a major research university. My school requires training on mandatory reporting- that is, if we see or hear something that may constitute as sexual harassment or assault, we are to tell the proper channels of authority. This applies to incidents on campus or off-campus, and regardless of power-structure (ie. I still report if it involves undergraduates, peers, or those with higher power such as faculty, staff, or admin).
There is some debate on how this applies in social constructs. (For example, if a graduate student friend shares something in confidence and doesn’t want me to share, by policy I’m supposed to share that, but morally/ethically should I?) There’s also some debate on whether this reporting actually does anything to fix issues.
Yesterday, a graduate student in my department posted a FaceBook status about her concerns with the above issues and how our university may be lacking in ensuring Title IX compliance. A colleague of ours- John- from another university started making comments that are at bare minimum questionable.
John kicked this off by claiming that Title IX is against the Constitution. His argument was that the Fifth Amendment has been thrown out the window and that “guilty beyond a reasonable doubt” has become more about guilty by public opinion. In itself, this is an interesting debate about how Title IX has been implemented. If he had left it there, I probably wouldn’t blink.
But he followed up with claims that women who dress provocatively are harassing men; that women who dress provocatively invite sexual harassment and are at least partly to blame for any harassment or assault they may experience; that women have faulty logic based on feelings; that women think they are never wrong and men are always at fault.
John also took issue with actions of universities when a man facing sexual assault claims, saying, “Schools have no right to put an end to a man’s life just because some hoe made an unsubstantiated accusation.” I understand that, while small in number, there are false accusations. It was the way he said it (“some hoe”? Seriously?) that rings as demeaning, combined with his other comments that imply victim-blaming.
He also called several of the women who responded to him “sweetie.” These women are scientists and also colleagues. This is directly called out as harassment at my university. A male colleague mentioned that calling someone “sweetie” in this context constitutes as harassment, and John called him a “mangina.”
The whole incident just leaves a bad taste. John is a Teaching Assistant and is in “power” over his students, which makes this more worrying. If John was a member of my university, I would absolutely report him- I do not need that toxicity in my department. Or if this had happened at a conference, I would tell the organizers. However, he is not, and this happened on social media.
I talked to the woman who posted the original status she doesn’t know what to do. She feels that she should tell someone from John’s university, but isn’t sure who and she’s concerned that she’s being too sensitive.
I am not sure what to do. I’m worried about just “standing by” and finding out years later that John has created a hostile environment as a faculty member with power over graduate students.
What would you do?