University should not appeal court decision in Johnson sexual harassment case

To the Daily:

University campuses must be places where young women have an equal opportunity to develop intellectually. They must be marked by an atmosphere in which women are free to develop their talents, to define their interests and goals and to excel. Sexual harassment and other forms of sex discrimination prevent these principles from becoming real, undermining women’s education and impeaching the claim of universities to function as a force for greater democracy.

The University now faces an important decision about how to situate itself with respect to these issues.

Last April, in a groundbreaking decision, a jury found the University liable for the sexual harassment of a female student by a professor. The jury’s verdict in the case, Johnson v. Regents, rested on the view that the University had not done enough under the law to ensure that Johnson and other young women would not be subjected to a hostile environment due to sexual harassment.

The University must decide whether or not to appeal the Johnson verdict – whether to view the jury’s finding as an affront or as an opportunity. As the leader of a national organization that stands for the full and equal participation of women in the intellectual, social and political life of the United States, I urge the latter approach.

The implicit criticism in the verdict should prompt reflection and change. By rejecting it, the University would send the wrong message to young women and men and to those professors who abuse their power. But by responding to Johnson in a positive, open manner, the University can contribute to progress toward fair and equal opportunity for women in academia.

Studies show that at least half of young women are sexually harassed during college, no doubt with grave effects on their self-confidence and intellectual engagement. Sexual harassment also makes young women more likely to drop out of college altogether. It combines with other forms of gender inequality – like those that have recently been documented in studies of the climate for female faculty members in the sciences at various schools, including the University – to deprive women of our basic right to an equal opportunity to grow and learn.

The University’s strong stance on affirmative action has been extremely important. It must not be mismatched by indifference to the real educational and intellectual prospects of female students and faculty members of all races.

To that end, the National Organization for Women urges the University not to appeal the Johnson verdict and instead to focus its resources on efforts to ensure that this campus is one where young women can thrive as intellectuals and leaders in all fields, side by side with young men and on equal footing with them.

Kim Gandy

President, National Organization for Women

Smith protects rights of males to preserve status quo

To the Daily:

Thanks to Luke “Progressive” Smith for warning an apathetic campus of the danger of “left-thinking fools like Martha Burk (WNBA wants equal treatment? End it., 04/10/03).” That darned woman wants the Augusta Golf Club to admit women. What a crazy idea! Will women want the vote or something next? Holy jeez! And how ’bout those long-limbed leftistic loony ladies who think they know how to dribble a basketball!

Perhaps the University administration can help stop the “red tide” by banning tonight’s Take Back the Night march. Once those female screamers get the idea that they should be safe from male violence and control their own bodies, what other nuttiness could break out? I bet some wacky college students might sit in at the Woolworth’s counter in Greensboro, N.C. and try to desegregate society or something (Whoops, that already happened on Feb. 1, 1960).

And thanks, Luke, for hacking at “pursuit of equality through unequal means.” That deranged radical Ronald Reagan should never have approved the 1988 act giving $20,000 reparations to Japanese Americans interned during World War II because some of that money comes from red-blooded taxpayers like us-uns, who didn’t even incarcerate those folks in the detention camps in the first place. Ohhh the inequality, shame and injustice. “No taxation without incarceration,” or something like that.

In conclusion, without free thinkers like Smith laying down the law, Martha “Saddam’s Mom” Burk would lead our great country to hell in a handbasket – except there wouldn’t be handbaskets anymore, because the women would all be president or senators or something instead of basket weaves. Life just gets worse every day, especially if you’re a white male, huh Luke?

David Boyle


Radio station actions and firing of DJ mistaken

To the Daily:

As a listener of the radio station in question, I’d like to point out errant assumptions printed in a recent letter to the editor (Daily’s editorial on WEMU contained factual errors, 04/09/03), by Theodore Grenier. It’s more likely Theodore Hughes does not feel “his show was above the rest,” but was simply doing his job as a publicly-funded, personality-driven radio jockey. His audience has spoken to WEMU management on more than one occasion – including war time – regarding not including news during his four-hour radio program.

Of benefit to the station’s finances and to better serve the public who supports them, they should listen to their desires. The Bone Conduction Music Show – as stated in last week’s Sminty’s Electronic Circus in The Detroit News – “brought more than its fair share of pledge dollars,” which alone should motivate the management and marketing staff to poll his listenership so they might replicate some of its success factors. Beyond the breath and depth of musical offerings, many of us tune in because there is a strong, entertaining, tolerant personality who understands his audience enough to have spent 20 years absorbing corporate grief so the listener could get away from the world awhile on Sundays, pre- or post-Sept. 11.

Truth be known, news is switched off or ignored when in the midst of a program which is longer than 55 minutes; it is simply National Public Radio headline news repeats heard last hour. Any emergency news items usurp all programming, and Hughes can be quoted from his Snow interview which is an example demonstrating he has and would air this type of news, but saw no sense in airing repetitive headline news. Perhaps WEMU management and DJs should take a look at their audience’s desires (i.e. their market niche), for if there is one thing we do not lack, it is a media source for in-depth news.

Greiner should personally hear Hughes’ side of the employment story, as he claims never to have received an offer to return to the air. In fact, when calling in Sunday night to inquire as to why the show was not going to be aired (as the business office, e-mails and phones were not being answered the previous week) and when it would be back on, I was not the only one who was told by someone at the station (who duly noted he was tape recording the conversation), that it was unlikely the show would ever air on this station again. The question might be asked if Hughes has not changed his practices in 20 years and has never aired anything but emergency news, what prompts a station to cut out the heart of its DJ personalities along with arguably 10 percent of it’s revenues in difficult economic times for publicly-funded media?

Judith Rosella


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