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OUR STORY AND WHAT WE STAND FOR

WHA-CARES unequivocally condemns workplace harassment and violence in all its forms. It is committed to taking steps to promote a safe workplace environment for all WHA members. To that end, the leaders of WHA-CARES were instrumental in creating, vetting, and advocating for the WHA's current Policy on Sexual Harassment and Sexual Misconduct

CARES owes it origins to a standing-room-only emergency “Spark Session” titled, “A Conversation on Sexual Harassment and Sexual Assault in the Academy,” which convened on November 1 during the 2017 Annual Conference of the WHA in response to the widespread revelations of sexual misconduct in multiple industries around the world. During this session, WHA members shared their personal experiences with sexual harassment and sexual violence and expressed their frustrations about the inadequacy of Title IX enforcement on their campus communities. This hour-long panel initiated a conversation and a search for solutions that members of the WHA, the Committee on Race in the American West (CRAW), and the Coalition for Western Women’s History (CWWH) sought to continue on a regular basis.  

To that end, in 2018 a diverse working group on sexual violence and harassment gathered to continue the conversation. The group created the WHA Committee on Assault Response and Educational Strategies to provide WHA members the tools to understand the problems of sexual violence and harassment, to respond to incidents in their workplaces and professional organizations, and to promote solutions to these problems through research, teaching, and advocacy. S. Deborah Kang, then at California State University, San Marcos, agreed to chair this group. Other working group members include José Alamillo, California State University, Channel Islands; Jennifer McPherson, Purdue University; and Erika Pérez, University of Arizona. WHA-CARES unequivocally condemns workplace harassment and violence in all its forms. It is committed to taking steps to promote a safe workplace environment for all WHA members. To this end, the mission of WHA-CARES has four components:

1. Uphold Professional Conduct: The Committee will ensure universal access to professional standards of conduct and policy statements issued by the WHA as well as the American Historical Association (AHA) with respect to sexual misconduct at professional meetings, including the WHA’s Annual Conference, and in the workplace.

2. Advocacy for Members: The Committee will explore teaching, research, and outreach opportunities for the WHA Council and WHA members to advocate for solutions to the problem of sexual misconduct. Such opportunities may include, but not be limited to, collaborations with other educational institutions advocating for the development of a national reporting system; public acknowledgment by the WHA of policy developments instituted at particular campuses; op-eds or resolutions issued in support of legislative reform at the state and national levels.

3. Reporting and Response MeasuresThe Committee will consult with the WHA Council and college and university Title IX coordinators to establish procedures for WHA members to report incidents of discrimination they believe to be in violation of the WHA’s anti-harassment policy (under development) and will outline procedures for responding to discrimination complaints.  

4. Educational Strategies: The Committee will sponsor educational events, including conference panels, spark sessions, and mini-retreats, with other academic and non-academic organizations to raise awareness of the problem of sexual violence and harassment and to help members find appropriate resources. The Committee will provide WHA members with practical tools when confronting, experiencing, or witnessing harassing behavior. The Committee will also create and maintain a website where WHA members may access recent reports, policies, and procedures; federal government resources (ex. Title VII, Title IX, EEOC, and DOJ); a survey of college and university resources (ex. Campus Safety, Campus Psychological Services, Human Resources, Office of the Dean of Students, Peer Counselors, Title IX Coordinator, Office of Institutional Equity, Employee Assistance Program, Ombuds Office); and provide contact information for national hotlines and legal resources (ex. RAINN, MALDEF, National Bar Association). The resources would not constitute legal advice.

During the 2017 Spark Session, an esteemed WHA member tearfully reflected that silence was the only recourse for historians facing sexual harassment and discrimination in the 1970s. In the face of the ongoing failure of the nation’s educational institutions to solve the problem of workplace sexual misconduct, WHA-CARES is dedicated to providing WHA members with appropriate resources and support. As a WHA Standing Committee, WHA-CARES will ensure that members and conference attendees never have to suffer in silence again.


YOUR STORIES

As historians, we know the power of stories. They convey the contours of change over time, enlighten us about lives lived differently from our own, awaken us to unimagined possibilities, and inspire us to take action. The personal narratives of survivors of sexual harassment and advocates in the fight against campus sexual violence are no different. It is only through their stories that we can fully understand the personal, emotional, and professional harms wrought by gender discrimination, sexual harassment, and sexual violence. Thus, we must listen.

Click on any one of the following links to hear our stories.


    ALLIES AND PARTNERS

    In 2018, Scientific American declared that academia had abjectly failed when it came to addressing the problems of sexual harassment. In light of what it referred to as the “rot” suffusing academic institutions, the publication provocatively asked, “Is it ethically responsible to tell victims to report harassment to their institutions and their Title IX offices?”


    The well-documented failures of our nation’s college campuses to redress the problems of gender discrimination, sexual harassment, and sexual violence have made it imperative for actors and institutions outside of the academy to take decisive action and demand immediate change. 


    Indeed, the definitive 2018 report by the National Academies of Sciences on the sexual harassment of women in the academy recommends that “professional societies should accelerate their efforts to be viewed as organizations that are helping to create culture changes that reduce or prevent the occurrence of sexual harassment. They should provide support and guidance for members who have been targets of sexual harassment...[They] should promote a professional culture of civility and respect...and establish standards of behavior and set policies, procedures, and practices. They should hold people accountable for their behaviors.”


    It is in this spirit that several professional organizations within the academy have taken steps to pursue more enduring solutions to the problems of gender discrimination, sexual harassment, and sexual violence on our nation’s college campuses. WHA-CARES is proud to count them as allies and partners.


    • AHA
    • SHAFR
    • CWWH
    • CRAW
    • WAWH
    • ASA (American Sociological Association — they had 4 panels on sexual harassment in the academy at their 2018 conference)
    • FAR (Faculty Against Rape)

    RESOURCES

    During the 2017 Spark Session, an esteemed WHA member tearfully reflected that silence was the only recourse for historians facing sexual harassment and discrimination in the 1970s. In the face of the ongoing failure of the nation’s educational institutions to solve the problem of workplace sexual misconduct, CARES is dedicated to providing WHA members with appropriate resources and support. It will ensure that members and conference attendees never have to suffer in silence again.


    If you are a survivor of sexual harassment or sexual violence, a friend or family member of a survivor, or an ally seeking to advocate for change in the academy, please click through these pages. And, don’t hesitate to reach out to the members of CARES for more information and support.


    • RESOURCES: ACADEMIC MISCONDUCT DATABASE 
    • RESOURCES: SEXUAL HARASSMENT: KNOW YOUR RIGHTS
    • RESOURCES: SURVIVOR SUPPORT
    • RESOURCES: TOOLS FOR ALLIES AND ADVOCATES



    The Academic Misconduct Database is offered to various consituencies in the WHA as a resource.



    RESOURCES: SEXUAL HARASSMENT: KNOW YOUR RIGHTS

    There are steps that you can take if you believe that you have been the target of campus sexual harassment. For more information, see the resources below. Since the legal landscape for survivors of campus sexual harassment is quickly changing as a result of new Department of Education rules regarding Title IX, note that much of the Know Your Rights literature issued by campuses and non-profit advocacy organizations is currently being updated. Finally, please be advised that the information below does not constitute legal advice.


    WHAT IS SEXUAL HARASSMENT?

    It is unlawful to harass a person (an applicant or employee) because of that person’s sex. Harassment can include “sexual harassment” or unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature.


    Harassment does not have to be of a sexual nature, however, and can include offensive remarks about a person’s sex. For example, it is illegal to harass a woman by making offensive comments about women in general.


    Both victim and the harasser can be either a woman or a man, and the victim and harasser can be the same sex.


    Although the law doesn’t prohibit simple teasing, offhand comments, or isolated incidents that are not very serious, harassment is illegal when it is so frequent or severe that it creates a hostile or offensive work environment or when it results in an adverse employment decision (such as the victim being fired or demoted).


    The harasser can be the victim’s supervisor, a supervisor in another area, a co-worker, or someone who is not an employee of the employer, such as a client or customer.


    Source: U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission


    KNOW YOUR RIGHTS


    WHAT TO DO


    CONTACT AN ATTORNEY


    RESOURCES: SURVIVOR SUPPORT


    END RAPE ON CAMPUS

    End Rape on Campus provides a variety of resources for survivors of campus sexual violence. It offers direct support by connecting survivors to mental health professionals and attorneys. It also helps students advocate for policy changes on the campus, local, state, and federal levels. Finally, the organization supplies educational resources for students, faculty, and staff on sexual harassment prevention.


    FACULTY AGAINST RAPE

    The first organization of its kind in academia, Faculty Against Rape (FAR) was created by faculty for faculty facing sexual harassment, sexual violence, and retaliation on campuses throughout the country. Through its network of attorneys and media contacts, FAR provides individual faculty members with strategic solutions and unparalleled support. As a result, FAR has played a highly impactful behind-the-scenes role in some of the most high profile campus harassment cases today.


    KNOW YOUR TITLE IX

    A youth-led organization, Know Your Title IX educates students about gender discrimination and sexual harassment, advocates for change at the campus, state and federal levels, and offers a wealth of resources for survivors of abusive relationships, sexual harassment, and sexual assault. This page also offers a link for advocates and activists struggling with burnout.


    MEN CAN STOP RAPE

    An organization created to mobilize men in the effort to end violence against women, Men Can Stop Rape also provides resources for male victims of sexual violence and harassment.


    RAINN (RAPE, ABUSE, AND INCEST NATIONAL NETWORK)

    RAINN offers a hotline (800-656-HOPE [4673]) that offers emergency assistance with survivors of sexual assault and provides information about sexual violence for allies, advocates, and policymakers.


    TAKE BACK THE NIGHT MEDIA RESOURCES

    As one of the first global organizations to combat sexual violence, Take Back the Night has raised awareness and advocated for change by regularly hosting protests, marches, and vigils each year. Its website also offers resources for survivors of domestic abuse and sexual assault.



    RESOURCES: TOOLS FOR ALLIES AND ADVOCATES


    Western History Association

    University of Kansas | History Department

    1445 Jayhawk Blvd. | 3650 Wescoe Hall

    Lawrence, KS 66045 | 785-864-0860

    wha@westernhistory.org 


    The WHA is located in the Department of History at the University of Kansas. The WHA is grateful to KU's History Department and the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences for their generous support!