Many prominent people have recently been publicly accused of sexual discrimination, harassment and assault, and this has spawned a national conversation. Such talks might be uncomfortable, but they are critically important. Problems not confronted are problems not resolved.
No part of society—including higher education—is free from the scourge of harassment and abuse. At the University of Colorado Boulder, certain truths are self-evident:
- We value equal opportunity. We forbid discrimination against fellow humans on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, pregnancy, age, disability, creed, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, veteran status, political affiliation or political philosophy. Period.
- We deplore the abuse of power. University policy defines sexual misconduct—including sexual assault, domestic violence, sexual exploitation, gender-based stalking and sexual harassment—as forms of sex discrimination.
- We expect members of the campus community to treat each other with respect—and to speak up when they see behavior that contradicts our values. When you see something troubling, say something. Don’t ignore it. Whether you’re a bystander or a friend, there are things you can do to help.
Even if you’re not sure if something you’ve seen is wrong—even if you don’t know whether the university can address your concern—we want to hear from you. We have an easy, step-by-step guide on what to report and how to report it.
And if you need support, confidential or not, professionals here can help.
Alexander Hamilton said the first duty of society is justice. And the first step to justice is truth. As we join the national conversation about probity, equity and dignity, we shouldn’t underestimate the power of honest discourse among people of good will.
James W.C. White is interim dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.