Friday, February 02, 2018

Last night's program

The monthly AAUW meeting was last night. (I wonder how long our branch is going to last; we've lost several members to moving-away or "I'm retiring and my retirement coach told me not to do anything for the first full year*")

(*Which I have been told by actual-factual retirement-coach people was a gross overinterpretation; the actual statement is "Don't take on any big new financial burdens for at least a year if you can avoid it" (e.g., don't buy a boat or a motor home) "Because you don't know how your spending may change in retirement")

But anyway. The campus Title IX (and numerous other things; he is also the disabilities concerns contact person) guy came to talk to us about gender equity on campus.

He did get sidetracked - by a couple people's questions - into the recent DOJ investigation/case involving my campus. I don't think I'm at liberty to say much (though those of you who know me well, or who live in the same state as I do, might know what it was). Part of it is things are more complicated than the news makes them seem, which is true of everything, I suspect.

But he also talked about what was and was not concerning in terms of behavior on the part of men and women, and though my general MO, if a fellow were continually (say) asking me on dates or for attention when I had straight-up said "I am not interested in you" is to keep being rude to him and to avoid him, it's nice to know an office would have my back if he escalated. (I have never been aggressively pursued, for whatever that's worth. I think perhaps something about my mien or general air of self-containedness tends to put chaps off a little.)

But anyway. He did share two stories, one which was unintentionally funny (well, to me, surely it was not funny to the parties involved), one which was a little sad but had an OK resolution:

1. When he took over the Title IX job from another person (who was retiring) and was moving into her office, she warned him: "That closet over there is locked for a reason. It's full of pictures of penises."

And he was like, "Pictures of what, now?"

And she explained: apparently guys sending pictures of their members to young women they fancy is quite a thing (I had heard of it, of course, because of Anthony Wiener, but I had no concept of how widespread it was). Apparently, according to her, it's the new way of asking someone out on a date and WOW I DON'T WANT TO GET BACK INTO THE DATING POOL NOW.

But anyway: when a young women came in, upset, with a printout of the picture as evidence, she would file it away in this closet.

And I thought, irrelevantly (and perhaps irreverently): "She didn't have a junk drawer, she had a junk closet."

(Luckily, I thought that on the way to work this morning and not last night in the meeting or else maybe it would have become a don't-laugh-in-church situation for me)

But....yeah. On what planet is sending a picture of your member to a young woman you fancy a good idea? Apparently this one, though it shouldn't be. (Protip: very, very few women want to see that early in the relationship. And probably few women want it mailed to them as a picture. Some of us don't ever want to see it, at least in photographic form.)

The sadder story was one that happened late last year. A woman called up the university and started off with "I think you should know I left in the middle of a semester and wound up earning Fs, and it was because a professor was trying to seduce me and it made me uncomfortable."

Further discussion revealed that this happened in 1976 but was just now being reported. (In many ways, the 70s and 80s were a very different time. School bullying, similarly, was taken far less seriously then). Anyway. Her response was along the lines of "He's probably dead by now but what I would really like is to get those Fs expunged; I am starting a graduate program* and it's hurting my chances of admission."

(*if she were 18 in 1976, she'd be in her 60s now. Good on her for persisting in that way)

Okay, I didn't even realize grades hung around that long. If I were looking at someone's transcript I'd look only at the most recent years, or the degree actually completed, but whatever.

But anyway. The Title IX guy went to HR and had them get the guy's file out of storage (apparently they keep files on everyone who has ever worked here, and in perpetuity) and there was a complaint in there from 1974 of a student - a different student than the one who called up - reporting the same thing. So on the basis of that (In cases like this, he said, it doesn't have to be "beyond a reasonable doubt"), the decision was, yeah, expunge the Fs.


I mean, I doubt there's anything much in mine: I don't "fraternize" with students (I have an arm's length posture not only because I'm shy, but because I want no appearance of wrongdoing). I did cry in front of a Dean once (well, in my defense, she was really harsh, and refused to do something she had previously promised she would to help a student) and I did once have a student threaten to grieve a grade (He earned a C on a class project and his argument was he had evidence other people cheated on their projects, and he'd reveal that to my higher ups if I didn't give him a better grade. My response was that it's a student's obligation to report cheating if they have evidence of it and it was wrong to use it as a bargaining chip. This was someone who wanted to go to law school, and I admit I felt kind of bad about at least some lawyers as a result of what I considered his unethical behavior. [No, I don't know if he ever got in to law school]. I felt really bad about it though, even though I stood my ground and said he did a C paper, so a C is what he earned and what he gets. And I felt kind of bad and icky and worried it was going to come back unexpectedly to bite me....the following fall, hanging around before a faculty meeting, I mentioned it, and one of my colleagues looked at me in disbelief, asked his name, and when I told her, said, "He tried to pull the same exact thing in my class and I told him it didn't work that way." So not only was the guy sleazy, he was probably lying and thought he could cow us into giving him a better grade. At any rate, he never actually grieved it so I doubt I have a note in my file about that....but yeah, it's still worrisome.)

1 comment:

purlewe said...

I think I love the phrase sweet fancy moses.

I mean I am glad they had such records for him to go back and look, but I am also sad that they have records and are able to go back and look.