Daniel Katz Profile picture
Nov 15, 2017 30 tweets 7 min read Twitter logo Read on Twitter
1. While revelations about sexual misconduct and assault are grabbing entertainment and political headlines, #HigherEducation leaders should be asking themselves about their own institutions.
2. There are over 3000 4 year degree granting institutions in the country and 1700 2 year institutions enrolling roughly 20 million students. Title IV institutions employ 3.9 million individuals.
3. @AAUniversities' 2015 climate survey showed that 23.1% of female undergraduates experienced "nonconsensual sexual contact by physical force, threats of physical force, or incapacitation since they enrolled at their university."
4. Reporting of these incidents to officials ranged from 5% to 28% depending on the behavior, and 63.3% of all respondents believe reports of sexual misconduct and assault would not be taken seriously.
5. These data do not include female graduate students, female adjunct and term professors, female professors, and female employees of universities. Nor do they explain the percentage of behavior coming from other students versus from faculty.
6. Further, the data is only on sexual CONTACT -- meaning assault -- versus sexual HARASSMENT.
7. The reality is -- and it is one that #HigherEducation needs to discuss NOW -- that the structure and nature of university work is practically designed to facilitate harassment and abuse.
8. @CChristineFair's BLISTERING #HimToo account of behavior she endured as an undergraduate student, as a graduate student, and at a major think tank is both horrifying and miserably not surprising at all.

9. And the reason it is not surprising is because the culture and power dynamics that make abuse almost inevitable are baked into our #HigherEducation institutions.
10. #HigherEducation runs on status and the accumulation of status. The most important endeavors are all related to the prestige of those activities and how they impact the prestige of the individual and the institution.
11. The work of faculty is judged based upon the prestige associated with their institutions, their fields of study, and their publications and grant funded research. The pursuit of that prestige is paramount and necessary for employment and advancement.
12. What is valued far less in most environments is the care that you demonstrate for the well being of those you come into contact with on a daily basis and those whose development as thinkers and scholars you are supposed to foster.
13. Publish grant funded research in highly selective journals for highly selective audiences and you accumulate far more prestige than you will for being recognized as an outstanding teacher and mentor.
14. Research and publication are essential activities. Universities exist in part to further human knowledge.
15. But the obsession with prestige is a distortion that creates massive power imbalances and which creates a culture where subordinates' humanity is seen in relation to how they further a professor's prestige. Hence, from @PHDcomics:

16. Our work environments are structurally prone for abuse as well.
17. Our hours are irregular. It is not unheard of to be the only person in a hallway with an open door for hours on end.
18. People, especially junior faculty and graduate students, work insanely long hours, often far, far past a more typical office's quitting times, meaning there are people in office spaces with few or no other people around.
19. And the power differential between junior faculty and faculty, graduate students and faculty, and undergraduates and graduate students/all faculty is massive and not well policed.
20. Imagine that you have spent 4 years as an undergraduate, 4-7 years as a doctoral student, but your final task after a decade of work - your dissertation - rests in the hands of your director. That relationship's abuse potential is stunning.
21. An abuse potential replicated for undergraduates and for junior faculty as well. People who have accumulated massive institutional prestige sit as gate keepers at every level of Academia.
22. Think about that: people who have spent decades of their life bringing themselves and their institutions professional prestige sit with little supervision with the ability to simply dismiss students' and colleagues' lifework.
23. And depending on the institution and the individual, crossing that gate keeper can potentially haunt you far beyond the confines of the university where you encounter that person.
24. This is an abuse potential that goes far, far beyond the reach of human resources online training and webinars. It demands a real and sustain effort by #HigherEducation leaders to inquire the culture of their institutions and look for change.
25. General stats tell us this is happening in our workplace -- the nature of that workplace should tell us that it is happening a LOT.
26. If we do not see it regularly, it is only because the incentives to hide it and endure for victims are far more powerful than whatever institutional procedures we have to uncover it.
27. When the #HarveyWeinstein story broke, one of my thoughts was "gee, over my years in #highered I've seen very few students come forward about that from faculty" and it hit me like a ton of bricks how that has to disconnect from reality.
28. So I am urging leaders in #HigherEducation to start this conversation right NOW and to think very hard about what we need to change in this "industry" and in its culture.
29. Because there IS a reckoning coming and it has the potential to truly shake our nation's universities to the core. We can wait for it to arrive or we can look hard at how we've baked the potential for abuse right into our work.
30. What we tolerate IS our standard. We should aspire to a hell of a lot better.

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