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About The daily Nebraskan. ([Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-current | View Entire Issue (April 22, 1998)
Report: Department allows harassment
REPORT from page 1
A specially formed group of the
Academic Rights and Responsibilities
Committee heard testimony from
Schwebach and others involved in each
side of the dispute.
The report on the department’s cli
mate originated from that committee,
a branch of UNCs Academic Senate.
The report was delivered to
Chancellor James Moeser late last
week. It calls for the political science
department to be placed in “receiver
ship” for a minimum of three years.
During this probation-like time, fac
ulty members and graduate students
must take sensitivity training, the com
For students or faculty members
with harassment complaints, uniform
procedures for dealing with them also
should be adopted, the committee said.
Finally, die committee of five facul
ty members, who are not associated
with the political science department,
recommended annual assessments of
the department’s progress toward “pro
viding its faculty and students a safe cli
mate in which to work and study.”
Other parts of the complaint, in
which the names were removed, allege
that the handling of an incident involv
ing racial slurs and plagiarism received
more attention than sexual harassment
complaints that had been filed with the
“When female students alleged a
hostile climate and sexual harassment,”
the report said, “it was alleged that
(Forsythe’s) response was minimal.”
The committee found that the polit
ical science department’s response to
sexual harassment complaints histori
cally has been inadequate.
Ignorance, insensitivity or the
unwillingness to address the complaints
has reflected poorly on die department
and die university, the committee said.
It said when female students repeat
edly complained about a specific facul
ty member’s conduct: no records were
kept to establish a pattern of miscon
duct, the faculty member in question
received no written warnings about his
reported behavior, and students were
not informed of any action that was
taken in response to their complaints.
The committee also said faculty
members acted irresponsibly in
response to harassing behavior.
It said faculty members voted to
award emeritus status to a professor
who was known to sexually harass
women in the department, and also
failed to bring an official complaint
against this faculty member.
The committee did not let students
off the hook, either, saying they also par
ticipated in unprofessional behavior.
An untenured, female faculty mem
ber, the report said, was the target of cat
calls and kissing sounds during a class,
and a male student submitted a class
term paper containing possible pubic
hair to a female faculty member.
A sole member of the committee
wrote a dissenting opinion, implicating
Forsythe for violating UNL’s
Professional Code of Ethics, die univer
sity’s equal opportunity and affirmative
action guidelines and its policies regard
ing unlawful discrimination.
“I find that die preponderance of the
evidence shows that (Forsythe), in his
role as department chair, did act in vio
lation ...” the dissenting member wrote.
But administrators painted a differ
ent picture of the department in official
assessments, die committee charged.
Brian Foster, dean of the College of
Arts and Sciences, contributed to the
uncomfortable environment when he
based his assessment of die climate for
women solely on the people he inter
viewed, the report said.
In a personal interview, Foster
repeatedly refused to comment on the
report, the possible three-year proba
tionary period or the climate in the
Forsythe, former chairman of the
department, resigned in February and is
now in Europe. His replacement John
Comer, is in Chicago for a political sci
ence conference. Attempts to reach him
Brian Humes, associate political
science professor, said he thought sexu
al harassment in the department was an
ongoing problem that needed to be
“Any time one group is adversely
affected within any work unit it affects
the whole work unit” he said.
Evelyn Fink, assistant political sci
ence professor, is one faculty member
11. 11 ..==^=
who said she’s been adversely affected
by the department’s climate. She has
filed a complaint
“Many people, for a number of
years,” Fink said, “have been well-aware
of die harassment in die department.”
The committee’s report, though,
gives Fink hope dial the climate in the
department could improve, she said.
“I’m really pleased that a special
committee, after careful review, is will
ing to document what they’ve found,”
“There is harassment in the depart
ment,” Fink said, “and die department’s
response has been less than helpful.”
Fink said she hopes Moeser will
adopt the committee’s recommenda
Moeser has 30 days from the time
he received the report last week, per
Academic Senate policy, to decide what
to do about the committee’s recommen
Schwebach’s attorney said he hopes
the university will take action this time.
“Any time there’s gender-based dis
crimination that’s rampant in the depart
ment, the university ought to know
about it,” Cope said. “They ought to take
care of it and move on.
“If you sweep the discussion under
the rug,” he said, “it will never get
resolved - somebody has to have the
courage to step up and be counted”
Political science majors said they’ve
been unaware of a possibly hostile cli
mate in the department
Junior Anne Ford said she has never
experienced any uncomfortable experi
ences in any of her seven political sci
Though four of Ford’s classes were
taught by women, she said she was treat
ed well fay the male professors.
Jamie Peterson, senior political sci
ence major, said she is “totally comfort
able” talking to any of her political sci
ence professors and had never heard of
any allegations of sexual harassment in
“The department is dominated by
men, but I wouldn’t say that it is intimi
dating to women,” she said.
Of the 21 professors in the depart
ment, only three are women.
Schwebach insists she was treated
unfairly, and said she will fight for her
Cope said if the university responds
inadequately to the committee’s recom
mendations, he and Schwebach will
consider their options - including a pos
Though she loves teaching and
researching, she will not remain in an
environment where she doesn’t feel her
rights are protected, she said.
Schwebach said the reason she’s an
academic and the reason she’s fighting
the sexual harassment so hard stems
from an experience she had in Iran dur
ing the late 1970s.
“I know what it’s like to live under
martial law in a nondemocratic state.
“And because I know what that’s
like, I will not allow my civil rights to be
denied me in the United States.”
Member arrested after
Cornell fraternity fire
Cornell Daily Sun
Ithaca, N.Yi (U*Wire). - A fra
ternity ritual involving fire caused
heavy smoke that set off the fire
alarm and led to the arrest of one
member of Phi Delta Gamma
The Cornell Police Department
arrested Dave Dolpe, president of
Phi Delta Gamma, for reckless
endangerment, according to
Cornell Police Department
Captain Randy Hausner.
•. The 911 Dispatch Center
received notification of the fire
through a fire alarm activation
around 1:30 a.m.
CU Environmental Health and
Safety Units and CUPD arrived on
the scene moments before the
Ithaca Fire Department and
reported heavy smoke in the base
ment of the house.
IF# Lieutenant Midtael ,
Schnurle said the firefighters
found the source of the smoke and
smelled an odor of “dense flam
mable liquids,” which they
believed to be lighter fluid. The
IFD evacuated the building for
more than an hour and used fans to
push air into it for ventilation. No
one was injured.
Following ventilation, CU
Environmental Health and Safety
found evidence of four to five
small fires placed around the
basement. According to Schnurle,
they had been put out by members
of the fraternity using dry chemi
Schnurle said CUPD officials
informed him that Dolpe told them
that the fires were part of a ritual.
According to Randy Stevens,
associate dean of students and fra
ternity and sorority affairs, he will
be meeting with Phi Gamma Delta
alumni officers, undergraduate
officers and officers from the IFD
and Cornell Environmental Health
and Safety this week.
Stevens said, “Following that
conversation, we will figure out
what the next steps are.” Members
of the fraternity declined to com
The IFD Cause and Origin
Team and CUPD are investigating
the nature of the incident.
“I don’t think (the members)
are thinking clearly about what the
consequences could be,” Schnurle
said. “This could have ended up as
a very tragic event,” he added.
A fatal fire at the University of
North Carolina at Chapel Hill
chapter of the same fraternity
killed five students in May 1996.
According to an article in the
Daily Tarheel, an accidental fire
broke out after a pre-graduation
party had ended. The chief med
ical examiner said four of the five
victims - all of whom died of car
bon monoxide poisoning - had
blood-alcohol levels significantly
above .08 percent.
The pre-dawn blaze started in
the basement and the actual cause
of ignition could not be deter
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