...with an external (to Philosophy) Chair taking over, in the wake of an extremely critical report by an APA Committee that the Department, to its credit, invited to come in to assess sexual harassment and other climate issues in the department. (I had heard rumors about two faculty members accused of sexual harassment last year, though I have to say, prior to that, I had not heard, as the report says, that the Department was a "bad place" for women. That reputation may have existed, of course--often I don't hear things, for reasons readers can imagine.) As the report notes, the current Chair, Graeme Forbes, had been put in a rather "untenable" position by the Administration, despite his efforts to address misconduct. Hopefully, the external Chair, with support from the Dean and Provost, can be more successful.
ADDENDUM: The earlier suspension of PhD admissions was apparently related to this report, though as I understand it, the University (no doubt concerned about legal ramifications) would not permit disclosure of the reason at the time.
ANOTHER: This is a rather misleading headline, since "pervasive" implies that there were lots of sexual harassers running loose in the Department, which is not at all consistent with what I've heard (and is not supported by the report). A department can have a bad climate for women with just one or two unchecked sexual harassers (and at least one issue in the Colorado case concerns the nature of the discipline imposed to date on offender[s]).
AND ONE MORE: A couple of readers point out a bit of the Committee Report that seems to me rather unfortunate, and inappropriate:
Realize that there is plurality in the discipline. If some department members have a problem with people doing non-‐feminist philosophy or doing feminist philosophy (or being engaged in any other sort of intellectual or other type of pursuit), they should gain more appreciation of and tolerance for plurality in the discipline. Even if they are unable to reach a level of appreciation for other approaches to the discipline, it is totally unacceptable for them to denigrate these approaches in front of faculty, graduate or undergraduate students, in formal or informal settings on or off campus.
Calls for handling disagreements about the merits of different ways of doing philosophy in a collegial way is fine, but it is absurd and outrageous to suggest that those whose judgment is that particular ways of doing philosophy are worthless, misguided or foolish should undergo "re-education" so that they think correctly and come to "appreciate" or at least "tolerate" what they believe to be without merit. I recognize that there are a "plurality" of approaches taken in philosophy departments, and I also believe that some of them are without merit and we would be better off without them. Every philosopher no doubt has such views. It's outrageous for an APA Committee to even imply that having such philosophical views is unacceptable! And it's also a distraction from the real issues. The sexual harassment/discrimination problems in philosophy are far too serious for an APA committee to be co-opting them into an ideological program about how philosophers should conceive the discipline, a topic about which there is, correctly, philosophical disagreement and contestation, even within departments.
AND LET'S REMEMBER THIS PROBLEM ISN'T JUST AT COLORADO: There are other "Colorado's" out there, and we have all heard the stories. Indeed, parts of the report, sad to say, reminded me of the situation in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Texas at Austin, at least back in 2008, which is when I left. Though one friend of mine who left more recently, quoted this line from the Report,
"It is our strong conclusion that the department maintains an environment with unacceptable sexual harassment, inappropriate sexualized unprofessional behavior and divisive uncivil behavior," the report's authors wrote,
and then added, "Oh hey, sounds exactly like the Texas department!" I hope that isn't right, but if there's any chance it still is, then I hope Texas and other departments with "climate" issues will also undertake some self-scrutiny and remediation, as Colorado has done.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Philosopher Kathryn Norlock (Trent) writes with some important points:
The APA Ad Hoc Committee on Sexual Harassment recently submitted our report to the APA Board and discussed it at the Eastern APA. Note that, as the report to the APA states, members of a department who know there are problems are rather obligated to do something about it. As we wrote,
"All public and private...colleges, and universities ... receiving any Federal funds must comply with Title IX.” Those responsibilities include preventing as well as responding to incidents:
• A school has a responsibility to respond promptly and effectively. If a school knows or reasonably should know about sexual harassment or sexual violence that creates a hostile environment, the school must take immediate action to eliminate the sexual harassment or sexual violence, prevent its recurrence, and address its effects.
•Even if an individual does not want to file a complaint or does not request that the school take any action on the student’s behalf, if a school knows or reasonably should know about possible sexual harassment or sexual violence, it must promptly investigate to determine what occurred and then take appropriate steps to resolve the situation.
•A criminal investigation into allegations of sexual harassment or sexual violence does not relieve the school of its duty under Title IX to resolve complaints promptly and equitably.