Dear Readers of The Cowl,
I was talking to some students recently when one of them, a woman, reported a troubling issue she was facing. A man had sexually harassed her on campus. Allegedly, she reported the event to a Title IX officer. Allegedly, this Title IX officer convinced the student not to pursue the matter because the man involved was “a good boy.”
When this woman reported her story, a number of other women present during the discussion affirmed the experience as a common one among women at Providence College.
I understand that this account amounts to hearsay. Yet, the affirmation of over half a dozen students, many of them women, in this gathering suggests that this hearsay is based in some fact. I do not know any Title IX Coordinator, but the students do. If I, as a tenured male professor, spoke to her, what would I learn? Nothing. But students, who interact with her and with each other, who speak a truth that we faculty are often not privy to, know the truth of the environment in which they do or do not report sexual harassment and sexual assault.
If this hearsay were true, it constitutes a structural sin. I know I am not the only faculty member to whom students have recounted experiences of reporting sexual harassment or assault and who have said their reports have fallen on deaf ears. That such an event might happen with a Title IX Coordinator, who is responsible for following up on such reports, not covering them over is sickening.
It requires investigation. Students, faculty, and staff should demand that the Administration instruct the Faculty Senate to hire an external investigator to pursue this matter. Why the Faculty Senate? Because the Title IX Coordinator is part of the administrative structure of this institution. No structure can be expected to investigate itself. That leaves the Faculty Senate. The Faculty Senate is trusted with shared management. Moreover, students who live and learn in an unsafe space are compromised in their learning, which falls under the purview of the Senate.
To any of you who have experienced sexual harassment and/or assault, please know:
· You are not alone. Myself and many other faculty on campus are here for you.
· You do not need to listen to anyone invalidate your experience and your feelings.
· Do not let someone, especially someone in the administration, convince you not to pursue a case against the men on this campus because they are “good boys.” Any man who is guilty of sexual harassment or worse is, by definition, not a good boy. Such a person of whatever gender should be immediately expelled from the Friar Family, a Family committed to PC’s Mission of a “loving embrace,” to “Veritas,” to “moral and ethical reasoning!”
Jeffery Nicholas, Professor, Philosophy
Maia Bailey, Associate Professor, Biology
Joe Cammarano, Associate Professor, Political Science