For UW-Whitewater’s Administration, Talking Points Won’t Be Enough

Yesterday, I posted on The Marketing of Misinformation: UW-Whitewater’s Use of a Counterfeit ‘Campus Safety’ Study. Today, here is a look at some of the university administration’s talking points in response to long-standing acts of sexual harassment and assault on campus.  (They’re from the new university chancellor’s recorded interview with a local newspaper.)

From the video at 3:02:

So, I said when it comes to that situation [former chancellor Beverly Kopper’s failures as chancellor] it was situational it was not systemic. What happened in the past is a private and personal situation.

This is fundamentally mistaken.  Kopper’s administrative failures of oversight and care for her own campus community were not private matters, they were public ones. Pete Hill [Kopper’s husband] was no ordinary, unconnected spouse: he was 1) appointed publicly 2) by this chancellor, Beverly Kopper 3) to attend public events 4) present often in chancellor’s office and 5) about whom the chancellor kept investigations secret for months despite knowing of harassment and assault allegations against Hill.  See No Ordinary, Unconnected Spouse: Public officials’ use of family appointees.

See also  Journal Sentinel: UW-Whitewater chancellor’s husband banned from campus after sexual harassment investigationQuestions Concerning a Ban on the UW-Whitewater Chancellor’s Husband After a Sexual Harassment Investigation, Chancellor Kopper Should Resign, A fifth woman publicly accuses UW-Whitewater chancellor’s husband of sexual harassment, The UW-Whitewater Chancellor’s Lack of Individual Regard, No Ordinary, Unconnected Spouse: Public officials’ use of family appointeesAn Example of Old Whitewater’s Deficient Reasoning, The Principle of Diversity Rests on Individual RightsAnother ‘Advisory Council’ Isn’t What Whitewater Needs, A Defense That’s Worse Than Nothing, and 0, 448, 476, 84.

Regrettably, there’s an entire category at FREE WHITEWATER addressing assault awareness and prevention that establishes these failures have been systemic, and that chronicles even earlier acts of misconduct & obstruction.

From the video at 3:16:

It has been dealt with.

It’s only been dealt with if one defines the past tense dealt as encompassing possibilities that include doing nothing whatever for many people who have been injured on campus.

From the video at 3:19:

When it comes to the [former] chancellor working here at the institution, she has tenure within the psychology department, it’s a part of her contracted right to teach within her tenured department, and I’m glad she’s on board.

To have said in August that one was glad that Kopper would be on board is at best misguided, and at worst…something much worse.

And yet, one now reads (as one very well knew would prove true) that Kopper will not be teaching this fall, but is on paid leave. However disagreeable it is that she’s still being paid, it’s better (as both an ethical and a legal matter) that she’s not on campus in any capacity.

As for a contractual right of teaching implicitly superseding the ethical and moral obligations toward students and employees who have been injured: if that were true – as either a moral or legal matter – then anti-harassment laws would be unenforceable against anyone with a contract.

For the administrative officials at Hyer Hall, thin talking points cannot be – and so will not be – enough.

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4 years ago

Right on target to focus on the bigger picture. Bet a lot of people in Whitewater have no idea about this interview. Yeah, the stuff past being in past or something is weak. So you must have known about it before yesterday right? Phony study is phony because of what has really happened that you talk about today. Nice follow up.

Stephanie V.
Reply to  Attendee
4 years ago

I don’t really appreciate being told by a man who wasn’t there that what I experienced was “situational, not systemic” despite having women approach me ALL OVER crying, thanking me for being the one to call it out. More than that, I don’t appreciate being told it’s “personal and private” and “in the past” when, to this day, nobody has even apologized for what happened to a multitude of women. We deserved a better answer than to have it implied our pain and trauma is somehow invalid because others have decided it’s in the past. Until any of the individuals making these statements or decisions have lived through what any of these victims did, the answers to these questions should be that whatever the victims are feeling is valid, they are owed an apology, and it’s a shame it can’t be undone.

4 years ago

The campus safety study was bad but as bad the video comments about this being private should not have been said. Absolutely never. I think “no comment” would have been an evasion but would have been better than what was said. There is huge faculty concern beneath the surface over a dozen issues. We are supposed to be a teaching school not projecting a political all is well image in interviews.

4 years ago

oh what a shame that reality interrupted that pretty interview. does this mean that there are bigger issues besides masks and night walks? some of those new spaces are painful spaces. the house of mirrors is the first one ahead on the right. they put the porch light on.

4 years ago

this was a reference to a newspaper article about the new chancellor.

4 years ago

This is for Stephanie. So many women on campus (with men included too) are thankful that you spoke out. It has made a big difference personally to know someone will speak out. We just want honesty and respect. What’s a warhawk family if some warhawks are told they should shut up? Should they feel lucky if some eyeballing creeper touches them when he feels like it? When you see the video you know how uncaring the environment. We are only an enrollment statistic.

Stephanie V.
Reply to  Cathy
4 years ago

Cathy, I truly appreciate that. I wish I could tell you how much in words, but I don’t have them. As I approach a year since this all started, I’ve had to come to terms with many harsh realities about how I was treated—and how my actions were portrayed by many as the exact opposite of what they were. I was fortunate to have the strength to write what I did and it was wrong the press only cared because of my past in local politics. It wasn’t fair to other victims who didn’t have a title before their names that had they chosen to take the same actions, they likely wouldn’t have been noticed the same way. Despite that unfairness, I cared too much about what they were enduring daily to continue letting fear hold me back from telling the truth, even though that meant giving up my scholarship for graduate school and moving away from the only town that’s felt like home. I don’t want to be a victim or be pitied. I just want people to remember the injuries in all this and what it cost beyond just salaries. Thank you for your kind words, truly.

Reply to  Stephanie V.
4 years ago

Truth-telling is a sign of strength. Speaking out is a sign of strength. Being honest is a sign of strength. They may not be easy but people know they take strength. That’s how people will see it. It helps other people to feel they can speak, too.