The Site Visit Report

   A Statement on Climate Issues within
the CU/Boulder Department of Philosophy

Our Department has been struggling with internal climate issues for several years now. The public release of an external report about our Department, along with the administration’s imposition of sanctions such as the suspension of graduate admissions, makes it necessary that we speak publicly about these matters.

The Site Visit Report is the result of a two-day visit to the Department, conducted in Fall 2013, by a group of three external evaluators. The Department itself requested this visit—indeed, the faculty voted unanimously to do so—and at the time we took some pride in being the first program in the country to be visited by the newly-formed Site Visit Program. Among the many other measures we have undertaken over the last three years are the creation of a climate committee, two climate surveys, a department symposium on Inclusion in Philosophy (with two outside speakers), and a series of detailed resolutions, including a code of conduct, which the faculty voted to adopt and pledged to adhere to. We have also, as a faculty, been aggressive in reporting all known claims of harassment to the Office of Discrimination and Harassment, and we have repeatedly urged our students to do the same. These votes and actions over the last two years show that a large majority of the department are strongly committed to the highest professional and ethical standards, and have also taken steps to improve the culture of the department and its climate. We are determined to make this a safe, inclusive, and welcoming place for men and women alike to work, teach and study.

The strict rules of confidentiality that govern these matters make it impossible for us to know how many people have been accused of sexual harassment and how many, if any, have been sanctioned after a full inquiry. But from everything that we have been told by our administration, it is a relatively small number of individuals and this certainly coheres with our own experiences and understanding of the matter. We believe that the vast majority of our faculty are decent and highly professional people who care deeply about each other and the welfare of their students, and have not engaged in objectionable behavior of the sort that the report describes. We very much hope that the reputations of innocent people—especially faculty and graduate students in our department—will not be unfairly tarnished by the public release of the report. At the same time, we want to emphasize that the primary victims here are the people who have found themselves on the receiving end of unacceptable behavior and that our primary focus will remain—as it has been for the last several years—to do our best to improve the situation in our Department for them and for all of us. While we firmly believe that it is a relatively small number of individuals who have generated the problem, we are adamant in our belief that any number greater than zero is too many.

We particularly wish to stress that Graeme Forbes, our outgoing chair, has been unfairly portrayed as being ineffective in remedying these problems, or even as being responsible for them; on the contrary, many of the initiatives the department has undertaken were done under his leadership, and we feel that he has been steadily moving us in the right direction. We are deeply appreciative of his leadership during these difficult times.

The Site Visit Report contains constructive advice on how the department can move forward. We have already implemented some of these suggestions, and we expect to implement others in our ongoing efforts to deal with the issues we face. We are grateful to our friends and colleagues in the university and the philosophy community at large for their help, support and understanding as we try to address these problems — and as we try to make this a better place for people to study, teach, and work, men and women alike.

Mitzi Lee, Associate Professor
Bob Pasnau, Professor
Co-Chairs, Climate Committee
Department of Philosophy
University of Colorado at Boulder

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