Statement on Sexual Harassment at UIUC
A recent investigation by NPR Illinois and ProPublica found that the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign protected the careers of its employees (mostly faculty) who had sexually harassed others on campus. These protections included “letting [accused employees] resign, paying them for periods they weren’t working, promising not to discuss the reasons for their departures and, in some cases, keeping them on the faculty.”
GEO strongly condemns UIUC’s treatment of these accused sexual harassers as lenient, if not downright accommodating.
Since long before the #MeToo movement, we have known that for every individual who reports sexual harassment or assault through official channels, many more instances are not reported. This continual harassment contributes to substantial psychological, social, and professional barriers for vulnerable professionals and scholars.
According to Professor Kathryn Clancy (as quoted in the NPR-ProPublica article), somewhere between 20% and 50% of students in STEM have experienced sexual harassment. These patterns of harassment create unsafe working and learning environments for employees and students. These patterns especially affect those identifying as women in traditionally male-dominated fields, sometimes keeping them from completing their intended degrees and freely pursuing their careers of choice.
Beyond the emotional and professional damage these harassers have already caused, the university’s willingness to keep harassers’ acts confidential allows predatory professionals to continue their careers unimpeded. It enables continuing harassment, passing the problem along instead of protecting workers and students.
All graduate student employees at UIUC are encouraged to contact GEO’s Grievance Committee (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you have been affected by sexual harassment in your workplace. TAs and GAs represented by GEO are protected from sexual harassment by our contract, and the Grievance Committee can offer support in any labor disputes arising from sexual harassment, regardless of employment status.
The GEO exists to ensure that graduate students are compensated fairly for their labor, but also to make sure that they have safe working conditions free from sexual abuse, harassment, and violence. We stand in solidarity with those affected by sexual harassment at UIUC, and we encourage all those affected to utilize resources on campus, including the UIUC Counseling Center and the UIUC Women’s Resources Center.
The Graduate Employees’ Organization, AFT/IFT Local 6300, AFL-CIO, at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, represents approximately 2,700 Teaching and Graduate Assistants on the UIUC Campus. In November 2009 and in February 2018, over 1,000 GEO members and allies participated in a strike to secure a fair contract and more accessible UIUC campus. With an active presence in the community, the GEO continues to work for high-quality and accessible public education in Illinois.
For more information, please contact email@example.com. More information can also be found on GEO’s website at www.uiucgeo.org.