Emory Report
February 20, 2006
Volume 58, Number 20


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February 20, 2006
President Wagner addresses PCSW’s yearly forum

BY Robyn Mohr

The President’s Commission on the Status of Women (PCSW) held an open forum with President Jim Wagner on Feb. 15 to discuss the work and mission of the group, which is celebrating a milestone 30th anniversary.

More than 50 people attended the meeting, held in Woodruff Library’s Jones Room.

During his remarks, Wagner praised the commission members for their ongoing effort to live up to the panel’s mission, known as the three A’s: advisory, advocacy and accountability.

Wagner told group members that he is impressed with their advocacy for women’s needs and their efforts to place more women in leadership positions on Emory’s campus.

Wagner also commended the committee’s support of the recently formed Work-Life Task Force, established to study the needs of of faculty, staff and students. He stressed the need for accountability within the commission and said he is aware of the group’s desire to track the various goals, opinions, studies and statistics that it may find.

Wagner concluded his address by saying he is looking forward to the future contributions of the commission as Emory strives to become a destination university and he said the school is on its way to achieving this goal through the three A’s.

In other business, PCSW committee members were told that a new committee is being created to overhaul the group’s Website. Also, PCSW is accepting nominations for the new members, and has seats for five faculty members, three staff members and eight students.

Members also were told that applications are being accepted for the PCSW writing awards contest. Entries may be on any topic relevant to women or gender. For more information, visit www.pcsw.emory.edu/index.html.

The Student Concerns Committee reported the work-life balance of students and mounting concern about sexual assault, stalking and abuse. The student reps reported about advancements made to publicize the issue of sexual assault, including a full-page ad published recently in the Wheel. The ad was later turned into a flyer and letter that were distributed throughout campus.

The committee said it has also created a student survey that aims to find out how students feel about resources devoted to sexual assault. The results are not complete, but the student rep said they will use them to determine what additional resources needed and how the PCSW can be most helpful.

Perhaps the most moving part of the afternoon was a student narrative, given by a member of the student concerns committee.

The story dealt directly with sexual assault, the lack of availability of information and the outdated consequences of the offender. The student said she was verbally and sexually abused while at a summer program at Emory. In distress, she turned to a staff member for help and was advised to file a complaint with the Conduct Council. Her abuser accepted responsibility and was required to write an apology, as well as a paper on the history of sexual harassment. The student who was abused did not feel as though the University offered any support services, and was shocked with the Conduct Council’s decision. The student’s story supported the committee’s earlier suggestion that the University needs to better publicize information and resources and make them more readily available to students.

The incident also addressed another hot topic of the evening, which was whether or not those that file a complaint should have the right to appeal the Conduct Council’s ruling. Wagner said he understood the student’s perspective but did not agree with the right to appeal. “You can’t counter mean spirit with more mean spirit,” he said. Wagner suggested that it is not a matter of having the right to appeal, but a matter of agreeing on a just consequence. “Instead of permitting appeals, we need to characterize the punishment,” he said.

During the Q&A session, several questions were asked regarding faculty and their presence on campus.
Joyce King of the School of Nursing suggested that the University establish some sort of social program so that faculty from all facets of the University can chat and exchange ideas.

The University’s faculty-in-residence program was also addressed. Wagner said that such concerns are being addressed with the new master plan. The master plan also calls for the building of new undergraduate housing, possibly including faculty residential space.

The next PCSW meeting will be held Thursday, March 30, at 4 p.m. in 400 Administration. Executive Vice President Mike Mandl will speak and discuss the University’s newly updated campus master plan.

If you have a question or concern for PCSW, send e-mail to chair Allison Dykes at adykes@emory.edu.