After – and only after – the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel broke the story of repeated sexual harassment claims against Pete Hill – appointed to a public role as ‘associate of the chancellor’ (and chancellor Beverly Kopper’s husband) – did Kopper herself make a public statement of the matter.
Kopper’s statement is notable for its utter lack of mention – let alone sympathy – for the individual complainants’ conditions and equal membership in the university community. Indeed, it’s striking in that regard:
I want to share with you a difficult situation for me personally and professionally. The UW System completed, and has now released an independent investigation into sexual harassment allegations made against the Associate of the Chancellor, Pete Hill, who is my husband. Although we typically do not discuss personnel issues publicly, I feel it is important to make this one exception and I have UW System’s permission to do so.
I fully supported and cooperated with UW System’s investigation. It was determined that the allegations had merit. UW System has ended my husband’s unpaid appointment as Associate to the Chancellor and restricted him from attending UW-Whitewater events. I supported this decision and put it into effect immediately.
As Chancellor, my top priority has always been and will continue to be ensuring that UW-Whitewater is a welcoming campus for all and that students, faculty and staff have a positive and safe environment in which to learn, live and work.
As you can imagine, this is a challenging and unique set of circumstances for me as a wife, as a woman, and as your Chancellor. As your Chancellor, I have worked diligently to ensure each of you has the supportive environment you need and deserve in which to do your amazing work.
I remain deeply committed to serving you and continuing the work of our University to provide our students with an education that is truly transformational and to make a difference in our communities, the state, nation and the world.
(Needless to say, Kopper’s failed in achieving her stated top priority of a safe and welcoming campus for all, or she would not have admitted – after the matter was already public in a newspaper – that the complainants’ allegations had merit. There’s now a third investigation underway which may show how well Kopper actually cooperated with the prior investigations. One can see from the public records already released that she in fact disputed some of the investigative findings of fact.)
The statement begins with Kopper’s description of her own challenges but mentions nothing about complainants as individuals. While Kopper mentions herself in the first paragraph and in the first-person singular, there’s not even a collective, third-person plural for the complainants (not even a ‘they’ or ‘them.’)
It’s not that one would expect Kopper or UW-Whitewater to name those who were at that time unnamed; it’s that Kopper doesn’t mention them as people – as individuals – even through a pronoun.
Two-hundred fifty-one words, and yet not a single word of sympathy for any of the women whose allegations have, by Kopper’s own admission, genuine merit.
Previously: Journal Sentinel: UW-Whitewater chancellor’s husband banned from campus after sexual harassment investigation, Questions Concerning a Ban on the UW-Whitewater Chancellor’s Husband After a Sexual Harassment Investigation, Chancellor Kopper Should Resign, and A fifth woman publicly accuses UW-Whitewater chancellor’s husband of sexual harassment.