‘A culture of silence’: Students respond to WilmerHale report of Philbert’s misconduct
“[Sheira] Cohen, who is also a member of the Graduate Employees’ Organization, has been at the bargaining table with the University in the past calling for change to how sexual misconduct is handled. As a member of the bargaining team negotiating a new three-year contract with the University in the winter 2020 term, GEO successfully passed several proposals, including updates to what constitutes “harassment.”
“Many of the things, for example, that the (former) provost did would not have necessarily been counted as … harassment under this definition that existed in the contract,” Cohen said.
The updated definition accounts for threats of retaliation and unwanted verbal communication of a sexual nature (such as sexual jokes), both of which WilmerHale found Philbert subjected female employees to. However, Cohen said there is more progress to be made, especially in terms of making the University’s policies more survivor-centered.
“It’s (OIE) just very much focused on protecting the University’s bottom line, rather than on supporting survivors and putting a survivor-centered framework in place,” Cohen said.