Can academia reform itself? Can academia control itself?
Can academia reform itself? Can academia control itself?

The demands on a tenured professor are rough. Four or five hours of coursework a week, a modicum of office hours, and well, thoughts about it. One finds the professor often bitter over the lower salaries they garner in the “Ivory tower” compared to those of their real-world brethren. Ah, tenure, intended to ensure that faculty aren’t penalized for having unpopular views or for researching controversial topics.

If only Starbuck’s employees had tenure to express unpopular views. No, that doesn’t play well in real capitalism. When money is at stake, follow the politically correct corporate line or walk the plank. But it is important for such faculty to produce Alice in Wonderland research as “How street lights affect the migration of sea turtles,” with results showing that it is deemed much more prudent to turn off street lights on major highways for the safety of this wonderfully protected species, while leaving the proletariat public to fend for themselves in the dark. Alas, “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”

You have to wonder the thought process of the original Wesleyan College academic who decided it was a fantastic idea to have kids wear nothing but their underwear in public. The practice of showing up in Olin Library’s Info Commons in one’s underwear on the Friday of WesFest, has become something of a time-honored tradition. Could tenure be behind this? No doubt the recent popularity of this illustrious event lifted Wesleyan to the top of the ranking of private liberal arts institutions.

The original pre-tangential topic here was sexual harassment by disgraced college professors. But as we see here, moral man with tenure can equate to immoral society, which is the umbrella over academia. One would imagine that the percentage of those educators on campus alleged of sexual harassment would probably be on par with that of those shamed in Hollywood.

UCLA is at the epicenter, no earthquake pun intended, of the sexual harassment storm. Gabriel Piterberg, a tenured history professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, faced two allegations of sexual harassment in the past five years. The allegations, according to a legal complaint, included unwelcome comments and forcing his tongue into a graduate student’s mouth. The students ended up suing UCLA and settled in 2016 for a combined $460,000. According to the Wall Street Journal, Dr. Piterberg declined to comment, though UCLA has said he disputes the internal investigation’s findings. Perhaps allegedly French kissing the grad student was exaggerated. I wonder what the odds of him landing at Wesleyan are?

When these institutions of lower learning teach more sex education courses than math, what would you expect the atmosphere on campus to be like? These hermit communities foster this “four legs good, two legs bad,” persona. In a column in Quartz, the authors state that the same patriarchal imbalance of power that allows harassment to occur also silences those who do speak out. I know I’ve heard that language somewhere before. In a crowdfunding survey, former professor Karen Kelsky found that graduate students were the most likely to make allegations, as the following chart shows.

And it’s not just a problem on Hollywood movie sets or Australian TV shows. #MeTooPhD is a hashtag for university staff and students to share their experiences of sexual harassment and assault. This is a very serious topic that is now miraculously coming to light after too long. Shame on those who perpetuate this ideology on our college campuses.


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