Law and Philosophy Professor Cheyney Ryan on UO’s sexual harassment training:
The new on-line sexual harassment training, which most people have now completed, demonstrates some of the U of O’s failings in this area. I cite two them; there are others.
1. “Conflicts of Interest/Abuses of Power in Sexual and Romantic Relations with Students”:
This section deals with the U of O policy, first proposed by faculty, then watered down by the administration, then further watered down by Affirmative Action–to the point of gibberish.
According to the on-line training, current policy says two things:
“No faculty or staff member should initiate or acquiesce in/agree to a sexual or romantic relationship with a student who is supervised or evaluated by the faculty or staff member.”
“If a faculty/staff member becomes romantically involved with a student over whom the faculty or staff member has evaluative authority, the faculty or staff member has a duty to report the relationship to his/her department head or the OAAEO, and make prompt, appropriate arrangements to mitigate the apparent or actual conflict of interest.”
Obviously these conflict. How do I “become” romantically involved with a student if I am prohibited from initiating or acquiescing to such a relationship in the first place? “Mitigating” the conflict is beside the point; it should not happen at all. (Hence, the accompanying “scenarios” are beside the point.)
I have a special interest in this as the co-author of the original faculty legislation, which contained no such absurdities. It simply said: Faculty should neither initiate nor acquiesce in sexual/romantic relations with students they supervise.
2. A second problem is even worse.
The on-line training constantly repeats the importance of reporting incidents, starting with student victims of sexual violence. It says nothing about the statutes of limitations for doing so. But this is all important, since a meaningful response requires timely reporting. There were statute of limitations problems in almost every case I encountered, in over thirty years of dealing with these issues at the U of O. Often, the university refused to act because the statute of limitations had expired.
Every faculty member and administrator should know the statutes of limitations for these matters, if the procedures are to work effectively.