Academia’s #MeToo Movement Expands From Cincinnati to Shanghai As Congress Considers Legislation Targeting Academic Institutions

truth2Recently, the Utah Law Review published a study of sexual harassment at universities and there are a growing number of cases involving students coming forward with accounts of prior misconduct by professors.  Notably, this movement has even extended to China, which is not known for its enforcement of sexual harassment laws.  In the meantime, Congress is considering legislation entitled “Federal Funding Accountability for Sexual Harassers Act” that would make it more difficult for academics to avoid responsibility by moving to other universities.  [For full disclosure, one of the cases this month concerns a former GW colleague, Ezra Wasserman Mitchell, who changed his name from Larry Mitchell before leaving for China.]

 

At the University of Cincinnati, Professor Bradley Garner has resigned after students raised prior allegations of sexual harassment. Garner is credited with making the Cincinnati’s flute department into a world-class program.  However, the department recommended his dismissal (despite tenure) due to allegations of “repeated and systemic sexual harassment” made by two of Garner’s former students.  Garner insisted that he was not given due process by the university and denied creating “a sexually hostile environment.”

There have been repeated objections about due process denial in sexual harassment proceedings at universities. Many of these allegations have been discussed on this blog and have been recognized by federal courts in rulings against universities.

In Garner’s case, he said that he was unable to appear before the investigating body but sent written responses.  The university issued preliminary findings of the sexual harassment claims based on interviews with 21 students, faculty and staff.  When it concluded that dismissal was warranted, Garner challenged the findings.  However, when the hearing date rolled around, he again said that he could not make it and proposed the next day. That offer was rejected.  He later resigned.

440px-Jackie_Speier_official_photo_(cropped)Some students are objecting that the resignation allows academics to move to other schools.  In response, Rep. Jackie Speier, D-California has proposed legislationv — Federal Funding Accountability for Sexual Harassers Act.  The bill would require all such substantiated findings to be reported to every federal agency that has awarded the institution competitive research and development grants in the past 10 years.  It is the “B” subsection that might raise serious issues for academics and civil libertarians:

(A) With respect to any individual whom, as a result of a grievance procedure described in section 106.8(b) of title 34, Code of Federal Regulations (or successor regulations) carried out by the institution, is found by the institution to have engaged in discrimination on the basis of sex while the individual was a principal investigator at the institution, the institution will report (not later than 1 month after such finding) to each Federal department and agency that has awarded such institution a competitive research and development grant on or after the date that is 10 years before such finding, the following information:

(i) The name of the individual.

(ii) The date and nature of the violation for which such determination was made.

(iii) The findings of such determination.

(iv) The remedy (such as corrective training or suspension) required by the institution after such determination.

(B) With respect to a formal complaint alleging discrimination on the basis of sex by a principal investigator at the institution, which was filed with such institution, but for which the institution has not carried out a grievance procedure described in section 106.8(b) of title 34, Code of Federal Regulations (or successor regulations) 6 months after the date on which such complaint was filed, the institution will report (not later than the date that is 7 months after the date on which such complaint was filed) to each Federal department and agency that has awarded such institution a competitive research and development grant on or after the date that is 10 years before such complaint was filed, the following information:

(i) The current status of the complaint.

(ii) The nature of the complaint.

(iii) The date of the alleged violation.

(iv) The reason why the institution has yet to complete the grievance procedure.

This would mean that an allegation alone would result in a record that (while omitting the academic’s name) would include his or her department and other details. (The law is less likely to impact moves to foreign institutions).

Supporters say that such a law is needed to address academics who move to other schools to avoid final rulings or findings.

That is the allegation facing Professor Chen Xiaowu, whose case is being cited as the clearest example of China’s fledgling #MeToo movement.  Chen was confronted by past students alleging sexual harassment. Such allegations are common in China and, just a short time ago, an allegations against someone like Chen (who holds the post as vice president of the Beijing university’s graduate school) would have been unthinkable.  However, the controversy went online and five former students went public with their allegations.

Notably, the campaign began with Luo Xixi, who was living abroad.

Chen was ultimately stripped of his post and teaching certificate.

This month, women at the School of Law at the Shanghai University of Finance and Economics (SHUFE) started their own campaign against “Professor Mi Luo”  That is the Chinese name for Professor Larry Mitchell. Mitchell was the dean of Case Western Reserve University Law School before he was accused of sexual harassment.  The resulting scandal led to settlements with all parties by the university and Mitchell resigned his short-lived deanship and left for New York.  He eventually changed his name to Ezra Wasserman Mitchell. Given the settlements, there was no ruling against Mitchell by the university or the federal court. Mitchell always maintained his innocence.

Like these other academics, Mitchell was highly accomplished and respected in his field of corporate law.  Mitchell eventually took the position in Shanghai but he is now the focus of a #MeToo campaign including this flyer. I am told that it reads: “We request a conscientious reply from Vice President [of the University] Chen Xinyuan: Why did Shanghai University of Finance and Economics take in the sexual assault suspect, American professor Lawrence Mitchell (Mi Luo [his Chinese name]), who changed his given name but not his surname?” [Picture of Chen Xinyuan]

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The controversy was raised after students found a Scene feature story.  The students are protesting that “We believe that there should be no room for Lawrence Mitchell to secure any faculty position,” the student wrote in an email, “as he is extremely dangerous to female students.”

The Mitchell controversy, however, raises the question over the fairness of the new legislation if allegations were not ultimately adjudicated.  Mitchell was never found guilty of the allegations.  Moreover, he insisted that he changed his name to sound more Jewish, including the adoption of Wasserman (which is not a family name).  While some questioned the motivation, Mitchell insisted in a posting that it was done not for nefarious but for cultural reasons.

After almost two decades of indecision, I today emerged from the New York City Civil Courthouse as Ezra Wasserman Mitchell . . . 

[M]y Hebrew name — Eliezer Ezra ben Shlomo (or really the Yiddish-Hebrew Lazar Ezra ben Shlomo ) — does mean something to me.  Of Ezra Ha’Sofer — the prophet who returned the people to Jerusalem and the Torah to the people following the Babylonian exile — it is said that if Moses had not received the Torah from Ha’Shem, Ezra would have been qualified to have done so. … Ezra, to me, is softly melodic, while at the same time quite strong. …

I have included Wasserman as part of my name.  (וואסערמאנ in Yiddish.) Whence the Wasserman? Here I present myself as a Jewish Kunte Kinte. 

Such allegations are routinely addressed by faculty members as part of the appointments process.  This is generally done informally.  The question is how much a new school must re-litigate such issues. They are not in a position to call witnesses, particularly with regard to events that occurred years before.

These controversies raise a debate raging this week in Washington after President Donald Trump criticized the lack of due process for his staffers accused of spousal abuse.

donald_trump_president-elect_portrait_croppedThe issue of due process in politics ultimately depends on whether you are speaking legally or colloquially.  Even legally, the term has different meanings.  Magna Carta defined it as being tried by peers “by the law of the land.”  However, England has always had a very different take on the meaning and does not recognize elements of due process that we have. In the United States, due process can mean substantive or procedural due process.  Both turn on the meaning of constitutional guarantee of not being “deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.”

 The President was clearly speaking colloquially about due process.  He was right to the extent that he was reminding people that an accusation is not itself proof.  Too often people assume that an allegation must be true if it is in the media.  However, there does not mean that we do not weigh the proof and reach initial conclusions, particularly when the allegations deal with public figures like Roy Moore or Rod Porter.  The president’s reference to Porter’s own rights and claim of innocence would be unassailable if he also expressed his concern about the women and underlying alleged conduct.  Fairness does not mean that the public cannot reach initial judgments on the available evidence. What is striking is how little Porter has offered to rebut these factual assertions. Thus far, two credible women have given detailed accounts that describe a similar pattern of conduct.  Porter has offered little beyond a blanket denial.

 Roy Moore is the ultimate example of the use of “due process” as a way of avoiding a question of serious misconduct. Moore and his supporters repeatedly argued that it was unfair to reach conclusions since he has never been charged or “had his day in court.”  That is a reference to legal due process.  While it is good to remind people that an accusation is not proof, that does not mean that the public is not supposed to reach conclusions on the strengthen of the available evidence.

 Due process does not mean immunity from public judgment or scrutiny. If you witness someone burning down a building, you are not required to withhold your judgment on their conduct pending trial. In the court of public opinion, we can and should reach reasoned conclusions while not accepting either accusations or denials on face value.

That brings us back to such allegations in the academic setting. Professor and students are entitled to legal due process and universities have a poor record in protecting such rights.  That does not mean that students are not right to raise credible allegations from other schools or prior years.  The federal legislation is based on the best of motivations and does address a concern of academics moving around to avoid final adjudications. The language and scope of such laws however have to be carefully scrutinized.  An allegation is not proof and an academic may feel that his or her position is simply untenable at a school as a reason for leaving.

Do you think federal legislation is warranted and if so is the language above appropriate to achieve that purpose?

33 thoughts on “Academia’s #MeToo Movement Expands From Cincinnati to Shanghai As Congress Considers Legislation Targeting Academic Institutions

  1. Ben Franklin, we gave you “a republic, if you can keep it”.

    Republic – b (1) : a government in which supreme power resides in a body of citizens entitled to vote.

    Contemporary America – communistic incoherence and hysteria.

    The American Death Warrant: The 19th Amendment.

  2. The Republican Party is the party of the “Big Tent” . . . Wife Beaters, Traitors, Nazis, Racists, Thieves, Liars, Con Men, Bigots, Child Molesters, Rapists, and Religious Leaders.

    The New Republican Party of Trump!

    • Perhaps the same can be said about a certain Democrat ex-President and a certain Democrat presidential candidate who was recently defeated?

      Bill Clinton as enabled by Hillary Clinton:

      1. Eileen Wellstone (1969) Allegation: Sexual assault

      2. Anonymous female student at Yale University (1972) Allegation: Sexual assault

      3. Anonymous female student at the University of Arkansas (1974) Allegation: Sexual assault

      4. Anonymous female lawyer (1977) Allegation: Sexual assault

      5. Juanita Broaddrick (1978) Allegation: Rape

      6. Carolyn Moffet (1979) Allegation: Sexual assault

      7. Elizabeth Ward (1983) Allegation: Unclear

      8. Sally Perdue (1983) Allegation: Unclear

      9. Paula Jones (1991) Allegation: Sexual harassment

      10. Sandra Allen James (1991) Allegation: Sexual assault

      11. Christy Zercher (1992) Allegation: Sexual assault

      12. Kathleen Willey (1993) Allegation: Sexual assault

      • And don’t forget the Podesta -Epstein sex Rings.

        What we have here are REAL crimes, sexual harassment (misuse of power)

        And the SJW, blurring the lines to,
        “I don’t like how he propositioned me, (asked me out on a date).
        This going to be a problem.

  3. Such a law may encourage continued action without due process. We need more than allegations and campus police. We need real investigations.

    I would also like to point out a disparity. Note how far the California Representative is willing to go to fight the mere allegation of sexual harassment in universities, compared to how sexual predators are treated in public schools.

    In public schools, teachers unions make it nearly impossible to fire a teacher for cause, including the cause of sexual misconduct. It takes hundreds of thousands of dollars and two years in court to fire a teacher. Mind you, schools constantly ask parents to please contribute school supplies like paper, pencils, and erasers. Does that sound like an institution that can afford a quarter of a million dollar lawsuit? That is why they have “rubber rooms”, which is the name of a room where teachers are sent who are deemed unsafe to have around kids. They go to the room to hang out and read all day, and get paid, in order for the school to avoid a lawsuit. In a similar fashion, there is an incentive for schools to quietly pass on predators rather than incur the cost or notoriety.

    Over and over and over again, it comes out that predators such as the “Cookie Teacher”, who blindfolded kids and had them eat cookies which were topped with his semen, telling them it was a surprise treat, had red flags for years. There were stores about his behavior going back to the 80s. If I recall correctly, they discovered photos of nearly 1,000 students eating his semen from a spoon, or on cookies, or doing other activities that make you want beat him up while vomiting. Because of the union he was able to retire instead of getting fired, with full pension.

    So, listen up Ms Speier. Lady if you want to actually fight sexual harassment in any meaningful way, then you’d better start in your own backyard. You clean up the teachers unions chokehold over public education, and their interference with justice.

    One way to start is to replace the public pension fund with the 401K system that the private sector has. Everyone pays in, and it’s their money. In no way should the public have to fund a convicted pedophile any sort of pension. Avoid that problem in the first place, alone with all of the other underfunded pension issues bankrupting California, with moving to the private sector’s more fair 401K system. In addition, make it easier to fire a teacher convicted of molesting students. Retiring should not be an option. And ensure that allegations are communicated to the school system.

  4. Despite concerns about sexual harassment, we must use caution in codifying “hearsay” or undocumented and unresolved allegations. Such codification could easily lead to a denial of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” and hear in the US has resulted in insanity like the Duke rape case and the Rolling Stone smear of UVA, my alma mater. Even worse, and taken to an extreme, it could result in such ignorance and atrocities as we have seen across history such as Mao’s and Stalin’s purges, McCarthy-like trials and even the Salem witch trials, where if you were guilty you could swim and thus were hung or if innocent you drowned anyways! Bad examples to follow.

  5. Allegations are easy to make even more so if they’re salacious. In Porter’s case,, what exactly makes these “credible women”? That they’re his ex-wives? That one has a photo with a black eye? That one penned an anti-Trump op ed? What exactly makes you believe their story over his denial? Exes are free from prejudice against a handsome guy who threw them over for some ex-model like Hope Hicks? Duke lacrosse and UVA ‘s Jackie caution against snap assessments and sanctimoniius judgments based on no evidence save “taking their word for it.” Victimhood is a desired calling in feminized America. It’s good to keep that in mind along with a healthy skepticism about human nature. Cui bono also includes the satisfaction of revenge.

    • You fall into the category of those that negate something because of the odd contradiction. It is rare in society to find any absolutes. Of course every abuse claim will not be valid, however, your stance is the one that allows the abuse to continue.

      That there is gender inequality is a fact: inequality in pay, inequality in advancement, inequality in sexual abuse-how many guys are sexually abused by women? That you can find a few does not negate the fact that it is predominantly men abusing women.

      Like Turley said, “If you witness someone burning down a building, you are not required to withhold your judgment on their conduct pending trial. In the court of public opinion, we can and should reach reasoned conclusions while not accepting either accusations or denials on face value.” In the end, when both ex wives and a former girlfriend attest to Porter’s abusing them, a photo with a black eye is included, previous recorded attempts by one of the wives to seek protection, and no legal rebuttal by Porter, an abuser may just be an abuser. If it walks like a duck….

      What makes these credible women is indeed that one has a black eye, that they are both ex wives. What makes them more credible is that men abusing women is anything but unusual in this society. The history of men abusing women, sexually or otherwise is a reality. If Porter is innocent then he should be able to prove it and the women should be criminally charged and punished. Then he could get his job back and maybe a parade.

      • Given your close-mindedness that you could ever serve on a jury is terrifying. Because there might exist a general problem in society ipso facto everyone accused of perpetrating that problem is probably guilty. Where did you grow up? Salem, Mass. ?

        • One looks at the accusations, the evidence, the rebuttal or lack thereof; then one responds. The laws either reinforce and justify the accusations or exonerate the alleged perp. Weigh the accusations against the denial. In this case, the mutt’s probably an abuser. In any event, he lied getting his job.

          mespo727272-You need to be somewhat more intelligent if you want to be a contrarian.

          • Let’s see the errors in thinking in just your last comment: First, false statement. There’s no evidence merely conflicting allegations. Without any foundation the black eye photo is about as probative as a photoshop of you in a compromising position with a chicken. Second, you can’t weigh anything because we don’t have Porter’s side other than a denial. Porter’s false statements, if any, are weighed against the spouses’ delay in coming forward and their potential animus. Right now you have a draw unless of your course you’re a dyed in the wool ideologue which you of course proudly proclaim to be. As for needing a better crowd to hang around with, you’re probably right. Aquila non capit muscas!!

      • The pay gap has virtually nothing to do with gender. It baffles me when folks trot it out as evidence of inequality. Jesus Christ, pull your head out of the sand.

    • It is entirely possible that the ex-wife is telling the truth that Porter gave her a black eye. Or she could not be. We need to find out what happened before we believe anyone, either Porter or her.

      Personally, I never assume bruises to the face of a girl are from domestic abuse. I have horses. The reason why I instinctively never put my face above their head when they have their head down is because I have been smashed in the face when they startle and pop their head up. I teach my draft horses that they have to stand there quietly while I pet them, and they are absolutely not allowed to rub their heads against me companionably. It’s like being nudged affectionately with a sledge hammer and I’ve gotten thrown across the stall from a purely affectionate maneuver. I’ve gotten a bloody nose from a horse accidentally smashing my face. I have a tiny chip in a back tooth from taking a fence down with my face when we fell jumping. I had bruises all along my rib cage from when I fell onto rocks (I really, really hate the hard ground out here.) My husband has had his nose broken by a horse. Honestly, if I saw a bruised face I would immediately ask if she fell off. Obviously, that would only apply to horseback riders or other physical sports.

      I am not saying that either one of them is right. All I am saying is that a bruise does not automatically mean guilt. It might, but it’s certainly not automatic proof. The public has a right to know. We also have the right to know if the explanation given is accurate. The WH claims that the FBI did not share with them the accusation that Porter punched his wife and gave her a black eye, because their investigation was not complete, and he did not have clearance. He supposedly told them that his ex had made false allegations against him and none of it was true. If it was true, then he would be guilty of lying to the people who hired him in his application process, and after damaging accusations came out. Or did the WH lie about not knowing?

    • We must ask why the FBI had Porter on a ‘temporary’ clearance for a YEAR!
      Keeping the police reports from the administration. It’s almost like they waited for the perfect time to explode it on to the media.
      This is shameful.

  6. All the news media females who make it to the screen on TV are dolled up so as to be attractive. Some women are probably attracted to those women. But these dolled up women are bitching like all hell about men who touch a woman. Sometimes the man has touched a shoulder or the back, not the rear or lower sex areas. Or a boob. In real life women flirt and will direct a hand to the boob or rear or vagina. It happens all the time. The complainers on TV who work for the media outlets should quit “dolling up:. It is hypocritical. Megan Kelly is one.

  7. The world needs legal whorehouses. For men and for women. Free trade and no charade. The cathouse should be next door to each so called school at college level. The female professors whould be allowed to trade for money there and the males should be allowed to pay money for sex there. Women should be allowed to pay men to work the G Spot. Schools should teach men and women about the G Spot. There are many on this blog who are unaware of the G Spot. Students at Ivory League schools should spend a year abroad in Amsterdam. And the males who do so should get acquainted with the broads.

  8. When I was just beginning as an Assistant Professor an older colleague gave me sound advice: “don’t mess with coeds!”

    • My dad taught college math for 29 years from the late 60’s to mid 90’s. He told me he had a door stop in his office door to force it to stay open.

      • Yup. That’s what Billy Graham and VP Pence are talking out about.
        Though many women and men are honest. A percent like to keep the chaos going in their lives,
        Depending on how they were brought up.

    • Was the AP “Sting”?

      The Police – Don’t Stand So Close To Me

      Young teacher, the subject
      Of schoolgirl fantasy
      She wants him so badly
      Knows what she wants to be
      Inside her there’s longing
      This girl’s an open page
      Book marking, she’s so close now
      This girl is half his age

      Don’t stand, don’t stand so
      Don’t stand so close to me
      Don’t stand, don’t stand so
      Don’t stand so close to me

  9. The bill requires all “substantiated findings” to be reported. That’s fine, but the vast majority of EEO cases settle, and the institution always requires boilerplate language that nobody is admitting anything. Which leaves the abuser free to keep abusing others. I do think that Mitchell changed his name to get a fresh start, so that his past wouldn’t follow him around via internet searches. The problem is that his behavior didn’t change, so his past caught up with him anyway.

  10. I disagree with the new law. Unless the faculty member has been represented and allowed to face his accuser(s) he is scot-free. This one-sided law has to end.

  11. Laws reflect the society that creates them as that society evolves. Two hundred years ago there were laws that today would be unheard of. Laws both precede and follow social norms. As the world moves towards gender equality there must be laws that both protect achievements as well as assist this evolution. The issue of freedoms can be seen both in the freedom to discriminate or comply without a legal intrusion or the freedom to participate on an equal footing. The present profile of this one part of a greater shortcoming in our society illustrates that some assistance from the law is necessary. The form of that assistance is the spooky part. Perhaps the laws should reflect the ideals of which societies typically fall short. There will always be those that misuse the law, sometimes successfully. That’s where the fine tuning comes in.

  12. I tolerate any grammar error in this blog, knowing this blog exists as one of Turley’s many charities to the public.

    But this word “investigator” makes no sense to me in this quote from the proposed law:
    “…a principal investigator at the institution…” How is Mitchell an “investigator?” Does this word simply not belong I this quote?

    Very confusing….

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