Davis Faculty Association

News item re: sexual harassment training mandate

by Ian Kennedy

From the November 21 issue of Science, the following item suggested that harassment training may not be easily dismissed:

ON CAMPUS A HARD STAND.

A biochemistry professor at the University of California, Irvine, has been disciplined for refusing to undergo state mandated training on sexual harassment. Alexander McPherson, who says participating in such training would cast aspersions on his character, can no longer supervise the two researchers in his lab—both men. The university is enforcing a 2004 California law that requires all state employees in managerial positions at large businesses to receive the training— typically a 2-hour session—once every 2 years. McPherson thinks the mandatory attendance is ineffective and impinges on academic freedom. “Once you gain tenure, you’re supposed to be protected against various sorts of social, political, and even scientific pressures,” he says. The matter is far from settled. Last week, McPherson skipped another training session, a move that he says could cost him his job. University officials would not say what action, if any, they plan to take next.

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