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Updated Post: Questions Concerning a Ban on the UW-Whitewater Chancellor’s Husband After a Sexual Harassment Investigation

I’ve added a few additional questions to a post, Questions Concerning a Ban on the UW-Whitewater Chancellor’s Husband After a Sexual Harassment Investigation, first published here on 9.17.18.

These questions are surely not comprehensive, and they are process & policy-oriented, so they implicate mainly the institutional response to individual injuries.  As policy, however, the university or any institution owes to all members of the community a safe learning and work environment, and that goal requires taking (and maintaining) meaningful action.

Institutions are meant to serve individuals, not the other way around.

Over the years, I’ve found it useful (for myself at least) to list questions about significant subjects as new developments arise.  Sometimes the scope of inquiry narrows over time, and sometimes it grows wider.

Questions added 12.19.18

  What is the status – and scope – of the third UW System investigation into Pete Hill’s harassment and Beverly Kopper’s handling of the matter?

At least one of the women who has spoken of harassment from Kopper’s spouse alleges that other UW-Whitewater employees were present at the time of Pete Hill’s verbal harassment:

“[Hailey] Miller says that Heidenreich laughed, as did Sara Kuhl, the assistant vice chancellor for university marketing and communications. That response did not necessarily surprise Miller, who says she often deflected Hill’s advances with laughter.

Heidenreich did not reply to an email detailing the incident, nor did she respond to a voicemail. Kuhl also declined to respond to direct questions about the incident, beyond saying that she respected the university’s process for dealing with reports of wrongdoing.”

One of these employees has had the responsibility of overseeing and responding to public records requests on behalf of UW-Whitewater.  Does her alleged role as a material witness not represent a conflict of interest in responses to public records requests in this or related matters?

The Journal Sentinel reports that a deal between the UW System and Kopper includes her “join[ing] the faculty through May 2020 as a tenured psychology professor.” (I oppose the deal – this question merely pursues its implications.) If it should be true that the UW System believes (as I do not) that Kopper should have the option of returning as a full professor, why set an end date?

Is this end date merely to allow Kopper to meet a financial milestone or goal of her own (ten years’ time, for example) rather than a belief that she offers a genuine benefit to the UW-Whitewater Psychology Department?

What public resources and employee time (including that of UW-Whitewater staff members, if any) did Beverly Kopper divert and use on her own behalf to maintain her role as chancellor, including lobbying public officials, the press, or trying to generate internal support?

Should it not be clear that time diverted that way would undermine future complainants’ confidence in being supported, and embolden future assailants to believe that injuries would be ignored for the sake of a leader’s or institution’s reputation? 

As the UW System has made a deal on the general terms outlined the week of 12.18, has the System done so because no one knows how to handle this matter more wisely, or because this easily-criticized deal is designed to conceal discovery of other incidents – alleged against whatever person – of which this chancellor or other officials may have knowledge?

Previously:  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 Nothing0, 448, 476, 84Kopper Resigns, Whitewater Remains, and The Limits of an Institutional Deal.

3 comments for “Updated Post: Questions Concerning a Ban on the UW-Whitewater Chancellor’s Husband After a Sexual Harassment Investigation

  1. Attendee
    12/19/2018 at 2:18 PM

    Good right questions from a good perspective.

  2. Stephanie
    12/19/2018 at 3:51 PM

    I don’t mean to sound like a pity party, because I am not that person. I am tough and strong and I will get through this.

    BUT, I think what others have seen happen to me in the press as a result of these questions certainly would lend itself to “undermine future complainants’ confidence in being supported, and embolden future assailants to believe that injuries would be ignored for the sake of a leader’s or institution’s reputation.”

    No sexual assault victim wants to be painted as hating women or accused of deliberately making up a story about their own trauma for political reason. No sexual assault victim wants to read the comments from internet trolls about the length of their skirts v. the length of Pete Hill’s arms. No survivor wants to have a woman who was in the room with them on more than one occasion say they have been “shocked by the allegations.”

    I loved that school. You’d be hard pressed to find a student who won more awards than me in their undergraduate or committed more of their time to trying to make it a better place. I won’t say I succeeded in that mission, but I absolutely did try.

    I write this not to sound like I’m full of myself, merely to explain that even I had no confidence in being supported–thus, I waited years to tell the truth. These so-called “consequences” do nothing to change that perception.

    • JOHN ADAMS
      12/19/2018 at 6:34 PM

      Well, you don’t sound like that at all (responding to your first sentence). Just the opposite is true (as you write in your second sentence).

      A provision for rightful redress that comes with painful obstacles and further injury is not a genuine provision of rightful redress. A thousand attempts cannot successfully escape this simple truth.

      Organizations and institutions that bring large groups of people together are responsible not only for how people treat others but how injuries are themselves treated after they are inflicted (including the climate this may create for newcomers who arrive months or years afterward).