Boulder, CO- A new independent investigation of the University of Colorado-Boulder’s philosophy department shed light on a sexist and hostile environment which has led to a major shakeup and mandatory sexual harassment training.
The independent review was conducted by the American Philosophical Association’s Committee Through interviews with faculty, staff and students, the review revealed CU’s philosophy department “maintains an environment with unacceptable sexual harassment, inappropriate sexualized unprofessional behavior, and divisive uncivil behavior.”
The scathing report noted incidents of sexual harassment were obvious in extra-curricular activities that involved alcohol with incidents of “harassment and inappropriate sexualized professional behavior” witnessed by many at these department-sponsored activities.
According to Inside Higher Ed, a disproportionate number of women are trying to leave the department which has a worldwide reputation of being hostile towards women. The report further stated that many philosophy department employees try to do their work at home in order to avoid the toxic environment.
Making matters worse is that many of the department’s faculty members were not aware of how sexual harassment affects the victims or were “not sufficiently familiar” with university policy, state law, or federal law, Slate reported.
“The department uses pseudo-philosophical analyses to avoid directly addressing the situation,” the report says. Adding, faulty members “spend significant time debating footnotes and ‘what if’ scenarios instead of discussing what they want their department to look and feel like. In other words, they spend time figuring out how to get around regulations rather than focusing on how to make the department supportive of women.”
This new report also highlights the effects sexual harassment has on all staff of the philosophy department. The workloads of non-harassing male staff have increased as a result of the department’s sexist culture as students and faculty attempt to avoid working closely with male professors who they believe are hostile towards women.
Since 2007, the university’s Office of Discrimination and Harassment have received 15 complaints about the philosophy department alone.
In light of this report, CU administrators have ousted Chair Graeme Forbes for not changing the culture within the department. Currently, the university is actively recruiting a new chair and they have also suspended admissions of new graduate students until 2015.
CU, which is still wading through a Department of Education investigation into their sexual harassment reporting policies, originally thought the report would be kept confidential, but it was released through the American Philosophical Associations website.
In response to its release, Philip P. DiStefano, CU Chancellor said, “That evidence points directly to the need to create a stronger, more inclusive environment in the department for women as scholars and students, that prevents acts of sexual harassment and discrimination, and that allows faculty to work together in a collegial environment of mutual respect.”
This report shows the far-reaching affects sexual harassment can have not only on the victims, but on all employees. When a university or employer inadequately addresses allegations or takes no action at all, the victims have no alternative other than retaining a sexual harassment attorney to help them end the misconduct.