‘It made me question whether I’d ever be taken seriously as an academic’: ASU students and staff allege sexual harassment in anonymous Google form

ASU ranks fourteenth in most reported sexual harassment incidents

Last month, Karen Kelsky created a public Google doc called "Sexual Harassment In the Academy: A Crowdsource Survey" for college women to share their experiences of sexual assault and harassment.

Of the more than 2,000 reports so far, the list includes nine reported incidents alleged to have taken place Arizona State University.

This makes ASU the 14th most cited university on the list.

The students, none of whom said they were undergraduate at the time, recount a variety of sexual harassment incidents from undergraduate, graduate and doctoral students.

One doctoral student shared how after weeks of inappropriate comments, her professor called her to his office privately. He led a conversation about the student's love life, his divorce, and her catholic school uniform. She did not attend his lectures after that, but still turned in her final paper. She received an A+ and a comment in the corner from the professor that he did not actually read the paper, but thought she should meet him for dinner. She did not.

"It definitely made me question the quality of my work and doubt whether I'd ever be taken seriously as an academic, or just treated like a sex object," the student said.

Another ABD doctoral student recalls the disappointing actions taken against the dissertation chair who repeatedly sent her obscene messages.

“[ASU] acknowledged it, but insisted on a gag order," the student said. “He couldn’t work with female students for two years. Besides that, nothing.”

One ASU direct report employee also attested the lack of university support, writing “None" in the column asking what actions ASU took against the professor who made inappropriate remarks about her colleagues' breasts and bodies.

"When talking to other deans, none of them, notably all male, thought that anything was amiss,” the employee said. “He’s still at ASU, still the darling of the university President.”

The most recent report comes from only a year ago, in the spring of 2017. An MBA student explains how her professor encouraged ongoing misogyny in the classroom.

"The professor of our class made many inappropriate comments to the female students in our class," she said. According to the document, the inappropriate comments included encouraging male students to "keep [women] in line" and asking female students to smile more.

"The worst is that he made two separate rape jokes," she continues. "I reported him after the first, and supposedly someone from the department spoke with him, but he made the second one (this time about pedophilia) after that conversation.”

“It messed with my mental status," the student said. "I'm a rape survivor and to hear someone make light of the worst moments of my life was horrible.”

She explained how she believes the problem is systematic, and that the lack of female representation contributed to the widespread misogyny she saw in the MBA world.

“I've decided that we need more female professors, so I'm trying to go back to school for a Ph.D. in hopes that I can be a positive influence," she said.

A research unit worker summarized how these incidents not only affect women, but the university as a whole.

"It makes me so sad and angry that just a few people are allowed to carry on this way to the detriment of several staff members and the ability of the university to put on some potentially stellar programming.”

Cover Photo

Arizona State University