College Mandates Sexual-Harassment Training for Faculty

DYSTOPIA–All Dystopia College faculty members will be required to participate in sexual-harassment training, Human Resources Director Stan G. Beech and college legal counsel Fgn Gocha Na, announced today.

In an email message to faculty, Beech and Na said the college has mandated the training because of a growing number of incidents that “haven’t resulted in legal action against us so far, but certainly could have.”

Beech said many students have reported their professors greeting their classes with a  “good morning” or “welcome” or some similar greeting with a “suspicious degree of enthusiasm,”  and several have reported that “my professor looked at me while calling the roll.”  A few faculty members have even asked students invasive questions such as “how was your weekend?”

In one extreme case, the sleeve of a professor’s jacket accidentally brushed the shoulder of a student while the professor was assisting the student with a computer problem, Na added.

Things were bad enough back in the day when there were only a couple of genders and three or four sexual-orientations to worry about, but now that “we’ve kind of lost count of the possibilities,” as evidenced by the existence of student organizations such as ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ Dystopia, Na said, there are potential harassment risks “absolutely everywhere, for absolutely everyone.”

Just for example, she said, whereas a straight, gay male, lesbian, or bisexual student might be offended by a sexual joke, comment, or innuendo, an asexual student could be offended by  a professor not saying anything like that and thus creating “an asexually charged atmosphere in the classroom.”

The safest option would be for faculty members to teach only online and not communicate directly with students, but at this point, “the college’s computer infrastructure isn’t really adequate to support all our classes going online, plus we can’t really afford for all our buildings to sit empty,” Beech said.

Therefore, it is recommended that professors avoid greeting or making eye contact with students, refrain from asking them questions, read them lectures from a pre-approved script, and remain at least ten feet from them at all times. “And don’t even think about touching a student in any way under any circumstance–a handshake could get you fired.”

Several faculty members have described this advice using various vulgarities and a rich assortment of synonyms for “ridiculous,” but they didn’t want to be identified for fear that their opinions would be considered a form of harassment.

Asst. Prof. of Interior Design Alessandra Bellacosa, who is Italian, and several members of the Romance languages faculty said they feel harassed by the anti-harassment rules and might have to resign as a result of them. Bellacosa cited the Italian proverb “Chi non ha le mani, non ha la voce” (“one who has no hands has no voice”).

Students who were asked about the training and the anti-harassment rules reported mixed feelings. In general, they agreed that “some kind of training about this kind of stuff is probably a good idea,” as Privi Ledger phrased it, and some supported the rules not because of concern about sexual harassment but merely because they prefer to avoid interacting with people whenever possible. Freshman chemistry major Solo Wallflower was one of the students in this category. Andro Jeenus, president of ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ Dystopia, said they (Jeenus’s preferred pronoun) thinks it’s “positive” that the college is being more inclusive in its consideration of the issue.

Many students thought the ban on greetings and handshakes was “maybe going a little too far, though,” in the words of Amelia Kaluza-Kaczka, a junior majoring in mechanical engineering. Abdullah Ibrahim Mohammed Hakim Badr-Asim “Bad-Ass” Al-Abad agreed. “Touching is not necessarily sexual or harassment,” he said. “These rules don’t apply to you, right?” Al-Abad asked, addressing the reporter,”‘Cause, like, right now, my day has totally sucked, and I’d kinda like a hug. Could you just hug me, please?”

Fifth-year freshman Trig Ryder, president of Dystopians for Jesus, said he doesn’t approve of harassment but thinks “Jesus would probably give Bad-Ass a hug, even though Jesus is Jewish and Bad-Ass is a sort-of Buddhist with a Muslim-sounding name.”

“Never mind the damn professors,” Joey DiMarco exclaimed in frustration, “what about the motherfucking aliens?!”

Copyright 2016

T. Allen Culpepper

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