CU Boulder philosophy department sexual misconduct report concerns female profs

Categories: Education

Photos and more below.
Last month, an American Philosophical Association committee issued a report about the philosophy department at CU Boulder, and it wasn't pretty. Among the claims: "The department has maintained an overall environment 'with unacceptable sexual harassment, inappropriate sexualized unprofessional behavior, and divisive uncivil behavior.'" Now, six female faculty members, including Claudia Mills, seen here, have issued a statement that supports the program but stops short of backing all their male colleagues.

We've included a lengthy summary of the report below. As you'll see, the document shies away from specifics and names no names. But findings include "an environment with unacceptable sexual harassment and inappropriate sexualized unprofessional behavior," "lack of civility, collegiality and respect for members of various groups," "bullying," "lack of boundaries/lack of professionalism," "lack of transparency regarding disciplinary processes, procedures and outcomes" and "lack of faculty trust in university judicial institutions, practices and procedures."

This last assertion is supported by a graphic showing survey responses to questions about potential CU Boulder action following complaints:

The impact of this environment is explained in the following excerpt:
Some assistant and full professors (both male and female) report responding to this situation by working from home, dropping out of departmental life, and avoiding socializing with colleagues. Several faculty members' reputations for bad behavior place a higher service work burden on colleagues. Women are leaving or trying to leave in disproportionate numbers.

CU Boulder's philosophy department building.
The female graduate students report being anxious, demoralized, and depressed. Some female students report that they avoid working with some faculty members because of things that they have heard about those faculty members. Some female students report avoiding working with faculty members because they directly witnessed or were subjected to this harassment and inappropriate sexualized unprofessional behavior. There was and is a lack of support for students who lost their advisors or instructors due to sanctions. The female graduate students would like more women int eh department but they cannot recommend this department as a good place to come.

In addition, male graduate students report being extremely worried about the climate of harassment. They are worried that they will be tainted by the national reputation of the department as being hostile to women.

The CU Boulder administration didn't shrug off the report, which was conducted last September and submitted in November. The university has suspended graduate admissions to the department for the fall 2014 semester "until policies and procedures can be reviewed and standardized to create a consistent, fair and collegial environment," the document notes. In addition, Dr. Andrew Cowell, described as being "external to the department," was installed as chair last month.

Over recent weeks, few members of the department have publicly addressed the findings. But that's changed.

Continue for more about the response to the CU Boulder philosophy department sexual misconduct report, including photos and a summary of the document.

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James Reeves
James Reeves

So your telling my they are lousy at ethics?

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