As Erik Molano scrolled through his Facebook feed with endless streams of #MeToo posts inundating his eyes, he felt anger but also felt removed. He wasn’t a perpetrator of these harmful and degrading situations. Then he saw it. A woman who, on his Facebook feed, made a #MeToo post explicitly naming him and something he did.
Trigger warning: sexual harassment and vulgar/racist language included.
In an unprecedented turn of events, the UW fired microbiology professor Michael Katze after two investigations into his misuse of university funds and sexual harassment. He gained tenure at the UW in 2009, a time at which Katze already had numerous complaints against him on record.
The UW is one of over 100 colleges currently under investigation by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) for the handling of sexual assault cases.
A press release distributed by the UW on June 15 said the university “fail[ed] to provide the student with a prompt and equitable grievance process after the student reported an incident of sexual violence,” in a particular case, breaking the rules set by Title IX of 1972.
Title IX primarily prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in any federally funded program or activity. The principal objective of Title IX is to avoid the use of federal funds “to support sex discrimination in education programs and to provide individual citizens effective protection against those practices,” according to the Department of Justice.
In the OCR’s 53-page document, “Questions and Answers for Title IX and Sexual Violence,” sexual violence is defined as “physical sexual acts perpetrated against a person’s will or where a person is incapable of giving consent.”
A complaint to the OCR must be made within 180 days of the alleged assault, unless the OCR finds good reason for it to have taken longer. If the complainant uses an institutional grievance process, or chooses to file a report through their university, and then additionally files a complaint with the OCR, the latter must be filed within 60 days after the institutional grievance process is finished.
A little more than a month ago, the UW was dealing with the ramifications of a Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity party where several women claimed they had been drugged, and an attempted rape occurred.
Since that incident, programs in the Greek System and at the UW are taking action to raise awareness of sexual harassment.