23 things that can happen to you when you are sexually harassed by a faculty member in grad school

  1. Nobody else on the faculty really wants to know. Because the guy that did it is the one senior faculty member who understands how the accreditation process works.
  2. Your dissertation advisor (who is the one faculty member you tell at the time) tells you the best way to handle this is to write everything down (on paper) and mail it to her from out of town. She won’t open the letter, and expects the postal meter stamp (from out of town) will help it “hold up in court.”
  3. You find out a few months later she has a serious brain disorder and has to go on medical leave. You will make a new committee mid-dissertation.
  4. After rehearsing your speech a few times, you confront the dude in his office to tell him he is off your dissertation committee and why.
  5. He accepts this graciously, but detains you for a few minutes to offer you some suggestions on who among the faculty might replace him.
  6. You marvel at his chutzpah.
  7. Of the three friends in your program you discuss this with, the universal response is “he never did anything like that with me!” and you begin to doubt yourself.
  8. But then you find out, after asking around, that his current wife is the doctoral student he knocked up while married to wife number one
  9. You also realize that the dude in question still has to sign off on your fellowship checks and teaching assistantships. This doesn’t stop sucking.
  10. You go out with a faculty friend a couple years later for a glass of wine or two and wind up telling her the whole story. She phones the dean that night and tells him everything (without asking your permission).
  11. The dean emails you at your side gig the next day to tell you to come to his office immediately.
  12. Why do you have a “side gig?” Because you had to drop out of your doctoral program for a semester while going through breast cancer treatments and are doing glorified secretarial work </sidebar>
  13. You realize around this time, through your best friend in the program (who is one of those lovely humans who knows everyone) that he’s done this at least 5 times before. You know these women and they are awesome. You feel medium stabby.
  14. When you have to tell everything to the dean, you find out you are now required (his words) to report everything to the office of institutional equity.
  15. You report everything to the office of institutional equity.
  16. They tell you there is little they can do unless there are more people telling similar stories about the dude. They ask you for names.
  17. You decline.
  18. Dude winds up getting promoted.
  19. No one from the office of institutional equity ever follows up with you again. It really doesn’t matter by that point.
  20. You decide that an “alt-ac” career is maybe better for you, because the current status of the university breeds abuses of power in these hyper-capitalist days.
  21. You get your diploma framed by the awesome folks at Michaels (along with your master’s diploma because you had a 2-for-1 coupon) and move the hell on with your life.
  22. Years later, academics on Twitter may lash out you for daring to having any opinions on sexual harassment in academia because they are still deeply invested in neoliberal university structures as proof of self-worth.
  23. And that’s all just…whatever. In 2018 we have fascism to fight and they’re literally putting babies in cages.

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