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Discrimination and Harassment Training

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Aug. 24th, 2013 | 07:22 am

The faculty, staff, and graduate assistants in my school within the university were required to attend a "training" on discrimination and harassment prior to the beginning of the school year.

One obvious reason for this is that one of the faculty is on paid administrative leave pending several concurrent investigations into alleged sexual misconduct involving minors (ages 10-13) and university students.

At the "training" we also learned of four other incidents involving faculty in our school, who have since been "separated" from the university.

I am having trouble organizing my thoughts around the experience of the "training." While I was there, it seemed not to be as bad as I had anticipated it might be. On the other hand, there was an incident that occurred while I was there, plus the fact that I woke up at 3 a.m. to pee and couldn't fall back to sleep, plus some things I read online this morning, that indicate to me that the "training" may have been more coercive than benign.

I'll start with the incident that occured at the "training." When it was finally time for our lunch break, the dean announced that the "good news" was that 91 people had showed up to the "training": the bad news was that only 70 had preregistered, so that there would not be enough boxed lunches to go around. Instead of telling the people who had failed to preregister that they were on their own for lunch, she called on everyone to "share." Fuck that! As someone who preregistered, I was insulted and furious. I made a hasty retreat from the auditorium, and along the way encountered two other colleagues who felt similarly insulted. The three of us decided to go to Sbux for lunch. I think it was also extremely important for me to get some air and some sunlight (and strong coffee), and to walk a little bit, not to mention being able to speak freely with people with whom I get along pretty well.

Secondly, the fact that I had insomnia early this morning, accompanied by stiffness and pain in my back, indicated to me that maybe I had been trying too hard to give the dean et al. the benefit of the doubt in having mandated this "training."

Thirdly, I read a blog entry this morning to the effect that networks (such as Al-Qaeda) have been largely successful in getting the U.S. to turn against its citizens and against its allies abroad, and another blog entry about millenial narcissism. The former referred to the U.S.'s prior exercise of "soft power" being shown for what it really had been all along, i.e. coercion, and the latter referenced the problem of "toxic co-workers," characterizing it is a predictable outcome of hierarchical, highlly competitive work environments.

I'm not feeling articulate enough to make any very coherent statements about how the "new," "positive," "forward-looking" atmosphere in my school is likely to affect experience as a faculty member at my institution, so I'll pause here and turn my attention to some things that I value.



Peace,

KH

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