Faculty Senate's AmendmentsThis is progress but the Faculty Senate only went halfway. The overly broad definition of "sexual" harassment still includes everything but the kitchen sink, and still intrudes on the classroom.
1. Due process rights shall be afforded to all parties.
2. A Sexual Harassment Review Board shall be formed to work with the compliance officer.
3. A person shall be banned only if he or she poses an immediate threat.
4. Judicial Review board members may be appointed to the Sexual Harassment Panel for cases
5. The accused shall be notified about the complaint within five working days.
6. The accused and complainant shall have access to a redacted version of the preliminary
7. The accused and complainant shall have the right to appeal and present their own cases.
8. The Sexual Harassment Panel shall submit a report to the chancellor.
9. Records of cases shall be kept under strict confidentiality.
10. The definition of sexual harassment shall be consistent with the Illinois Human Rights Act.
The new code expands the definition of "sexual" harassment and adds to the laundry list of possible infractions. This is precisely the kind of "chilling" approach that the Office for Civil Rights (U.S. Department of Education) rebuked several years ago. The code's definition allows accusers to claim "hostile environment" in the face of innocent quips, humor, gestures, and "sexually-explicit" material that is "inappropriate." It extends the code to on and off-campus activities. I went over this ground in my "Open Letter."
If you think it can't happen here, it has happened here and on many other campuses. For example, I am currently reading Todd Tucker's Notre Dame vs. the Klan: How the Fighting Irish Defeated the Ku Klux Klan. This book examines a proud moment in anti-Klan activism, yet simply reading that book got one student-employee at Indiana University-Purdue into trouble ("a shop steward told Sampson that reading a book about the KKK was like bringing pornography to work").
I agree 100% with fellow civil libertarians, and the Faculty Senate, on the need for due process. Amen, I say, Amen! But nearly all these spurious allegations, treated ever so seriously, need to be short circuited at the definition stage. An administrator may dismiss such nonsense at the outset but there is no guarantee.
As our Founding Fathers noted when constructing the Constitution, if men (or women) were angels there would be no need for limits on government. That applies to university administrators who have every incentive to respond to each harassment charge that comes their way.
Let's draft a precise definition that deals with actual sexual harassment. That is something we can all agree upon. Anything less is unjust, anything more is cause for mischief.