Two separate but related reviews—one of the Office of
Equal Opportunity Programs (EOP) and another of the University’s
discriminatory harassment (DH) policy—are under way to evaluate
both entities and suggest what improvements, if any, should be
The EOP office review will be handled by an external, three-person committee
working in cooperation with Amy Adelman, associate general counsel. Atlanta attorney
Adrienne Fechter, a consultant who specializes in workplace disputes, training,
mediation, discrimination and harassment, will head the panel, and she will be
joined by Benjamin Reese, vice president for institutional equity at Duke University,
and Jeanne Arnold-Mann, executive director for affirmative action and equal opportunity
programs at the University of Pennsylvania.
The committee was selected from a list of EOP officers around the country provided
by EOP Vice President Bob Ethridge, who currently is president of the American
Association for Affirmative Action. One “problem,” according to Senior
Vice President and General Counsel Kent Alexander, was that Ethridge’s
national reputation is such that it was not easy to find reviewers not already
familiar with Ethridge and his office.
“We asked Bob if he could get us a list of people around the country,
but he didn’t pick anybody on the committee,” Alexander said. “We
tried to find people from institutions with good operations—strong heads
of effective offices who could provide us with good input.”
Meanwhile, a University Senate-appointed committee will examine
the DH policy (which is posted at www.emory.edu/EEO/PolicyStatementondh.html).
Chaired by Emory College Dean Bobby Paul and Alexander, the eight-member
committee will invite input from a range of offices and departments on campus,
as well as study similar policies at other universities to determine whether
any changes need to be made to Emory’s policy.
President Jim Wagner has asked that both reviews be completed by the end
of spring semester, though Paul said, if need be, his committee would ask
for an extension rather than produce something “slapdash.”
Alexander, whose office is involved in both projects, admitted that last
racial-language incident in the anthropology department was a factor in prompting
the reviews, but he added that the efforts would benefit the University regardless
of the context in which they were done.
“There should be no stigma attached to this,” Alexander said. “Reviews
are commonplace in academic institutions; these are things we’ve wanted
to review for some time. We simply want to see how the office could be most effective,
and we’re going to give the committee a lot of latitude. They’re
an independent committee, so we don’t want to tell them what to do.”
Apart from its chairs, the DH committee is made up equally of faculty and
staff. Professor Bill Branch (medicine), Professor Richard Doner (political
science) and Associate Professor Maggie Gilead (nursing) comprise the faculty
component, while Accountant Cheryl Bowie (radiology), Research Specialist
Susie Lackey (Yerkes) and Accountant Don Newsome (theology) represent staff.
Adelman, Professor Eugene Emory (psychology), Assistant Director Sylvester
Hopewell (EOP) and employee relations Coordinator Jill Vogel (Human Resources)
are ex officio members.
“Faculty don’t always realize that harassment is an employment issue,
and most of Emory’s employees are staff,” Paul said. “Many,
many more harassment complaints are made by staff against their supervisors
than by faculty. A balanced number of faculty and staff on the committee
is only natural.”
Regarding the issues of academic freedom that have been raised in relation
to the DH policy, Paul was quick to point out that the policy is not a “speech
code.” Since much if not most harassment takes place in the form of
speech, it is unavoidable to consider speech when reviewing and forming a
policy such as this.
“One of the challenges is we don’t have an explicit definition
of what ‘harassing speech’ is,” Paul said. “Many
of the other [schools’] policies are more extensive
in that regard.”
Rather than present a finished, revised policy, the DH committee simply will
make recommendations, and Paul hopes the University community will provide
input. Both before and after the committee’s recommendations are published,
individuals can send comments either to firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
Whatever changes end up being made either to the DH policy or to the EOP
office, Paul said it’s important to remember that no policy or procedure
can ever be perfect or 100 percent effective against preventing honest disputes.
“Sooner or later situations are going to come up where human beings are
going to have to make judgments—and I personally think that’s a good
thing,” Paul said. “Obviously we should be guided by clear policies
as far as we can, but there is no substitute for careful consideration of
each circumstance as it arises.”