Letter of Apology to Student Victims of Sexual Harassment

  | Introduction | Letter of Apology | Messages to Faculty Sexual Harrassers | Messages to Colluding Presidents |
| Definition and Legal Framework | Incidence and Impact | Bill of Rights for Students and Parents |
| Prevention Strategies | Filing a Complaint | Collecting Evidence | Getting Help - Resources and References |
| Special Thanks | Table of Contents | E-mail |
Winter 1999
 

Dear Former and Current University Students,
 

My name is Charles J. Hobson and I am an Associate Professor of Business Administration at Indiana University Northwest in Gary, IN. One of my areas of expertise, in which I teach, conduct research, do training for companies/universities, and provide expert witness testimony in court cases, is the prevention of sexual harassment.
 

According to the Office of Civil Rights of the U.S. Department of Education, there are two types of illegal academic sexual harassment - quid pro quo (which means "this for that") and hostile environment. In the first instance, quid pro quo harassment occurs when a professor makes academic decisions (i.e. grades) based upon a student's willingness to go along with requests for sexual favors. Hostile environment harassment involves a pattern of behaviors (often in the classroom) which is sexual in nature, unrelated to course content, and interferes with a student's academic performance or creates a hostile, intimidating, offensive learning environment.
 

 Sexual harassment of college students is a national disgrace, affecting 20 - 30 % (1.4 - 2.1 million) of all women students currently enrolled. Thus, there are literally millions of women who have been sexually harassed while attending college. The experience typically has a devastating impact on victims, causing severe psychological, behavioral, and academic problems.
 

During the course of my efforts to assist Indiana University in preventing sexual harassment, information was provided to me indicating that certain professors had been sexually harassing students for many years. Consequently, I recommended, in writing, that the university send a letter to all former students of those professors in order to :
 


Sadly, my recommendation was not accepted and no letters were sent to previous students. I was told that the university had no legal obligation to send such a letter and the potential costs/liabilities were prohibitive.  Apparently, the university leadership felt no moral obligation or responsibility to silent victims of faculty sexual harassment who failed to file a formal complaint (Research shows that only 2 - 3 % of female students who have been harassed attempt to file formal complaints.). I could only assume that our "leaders" were content to allow these student victims to continue to suffer in silence.

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Sadly, the strategy of denial and "stone-walling" is all too typical in higher education today. Decision making is dominated by attorneys and universities are afraid to "do the right thing"!
 

I strongly disagree with this course of inaction! If we have evidence to indicate that a faculty member has been sexually harassing students for a long period of time, I believe that the institution has a moral obligation to contact those students and try to repair any damage that was done. However, waiting for such decisive moral action on the part of a university might take a lifetime or more.
 

Thus, as a deeply concerned college faculty member, campus sexual harassment prevention advisor, and strong civil rights/women's rights advocate, I want to apologize to all students at Indiana University and any other higher education institution who have been victimized by faculty sexual harassment/sexual misconduct in the past. Sexual harassment is wrong and represents a violation of your civil rights! I also apologize for your university's lack of responsible and appropriate action.
 

If you believe that you have been victimized by faculty sexual harassment/sexual misconduct, even if it occurred years ago, I encourage you to directly contact your institution's top administrator or "leader" (President or Chancellor) in order to :
 

The problem of sexual harassment is national in scope and affects every university. While the overwhelming majority of faculty members are hardworking, conscientious professors who treat students with respect and dignity, we are plagued by a small minority of rogue faculty members, best described as sexual predators, who exploit  students.  for their own personal gain and academic leaders who are either unwilling or unable to initiate decisive action to correct the problem and assist prior victims.
 

Please accept my apology if you have been victimized in the past and join with me in making university campuses safe from faculty sexual harassment. Good luck in your efforts and please keep us posted on your progress, both successes and failures.
 

Sincerely,

Charles J. Hobson, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of
Business Administration
Indiana University Northwest
3400 Broadway
Gary, IN 46408
 


 | Introduction | Letter of Apology | Messages to Faculty Sexual Harrassers | Messages to Colluding Presidents |
| Definition and Legal Framework | Incidence and Impact | Bill of Rights for Students and Parents |
| Prevention Strategies | Filing a Complaint | Collecting Evidence | Getting Help - Resources and References |
| Special Thanks | Table of Contents | E-mail |
 

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http://www.iun.edu/~rights/apology.htm 
Comments: Dr. Charles Hobson