Monday, May 02, 2011

Going Through the (Right) Channels

This, from over at Unfogged again, disturbs me for many reasons, not the least being that, a few semesters ago I had a situation, not nearly this serious, play out in a way that made me at the time uneasy.

It was a young woman in one of my classes who came to me for help -- a fellow student, male, in the same class, was sexually harassing her: he'd hit on her, and she had turned him down. Since then he had been sending her dozens of text messages (they had been in the same study group in another class, so he had her text address) every day, including all night long; and he was sending her photographs of himself, including nude photographs; plus he kept sitting behind her in class; she had gotten her friends to sit around her so he couldn't, and now he would sit across the room from her and made faces at her; and frankly, she wanted it to stop. "I'm thinking about dropping the class," she said, "but I need it to graduate."

I told her not to drop the class, that if necessary we would make him drop the class; that we would handle it. And I went to my chair.

Who told me that it was not an academic matter. That we would pass it on to the Dean of Students.

Who told us that the girl would have to talk to the university police about it. That he could do nothing.

The chair told me I could not talk to the kid about it. Because it wasn't an academic matter.

When I had to tell the girl that she had to go the police -- that the Dean of Students was not going to give her any help -- I remember feel like filth. I did offer to go to the police with her, but she said no, she would handle it. I told her she might go to the Dean of Students and talk to him (figuring he'd be less cavilier listening to the details in his office) but she just walked away.

Probably it wouldn't have made any difference anyway.

She didn't drop the class. And as far as I know nothing happened to him.

At the time I attributed the problem to just a jurisdictional problem -- we were caught in the bureaucracy. Now, though, I am not so sure.


Bardiac said...

Nope, you were caught in a patriarchal problem. If a male had been harassed, the patriarchal authorities would have helped stop the problem quickly.

delagar said...

I've also wondered if there wasn't a touch of "bitch turned him down, what did she expect?" going on there.