Dear Professor Flintstone (pseudonym):
Thanks so much for your letter expressing concern over UNC-Wilmington?s new harassment policy, which reads as follows:
Harassment is unwelcome conduct based on race, color, religion, creed, sex, national origin, age, disability, veteran status or sexual orientation that is either a condition of working or learning (?quid pro quo?) or creates a hostile environment. (see www.uncw.edu for more details).
I also thank you for asking the following questions about the new harassment definition:
1. Does rolling your eyes when someone says something stupid constitute harassment?
2. How would anyone know what eye-rolling was based on?
It?s a good thing you asked me those questions since a recent memo from the administration gave us the following warning: ?The university expects all employees to learn what behaviors constitute harassment, to be responsible for their own behavior, and to cooperate in creating an environment in which harassment is not tolerated.?
The answer to your first question is ?yes,? provided that the person at whom you rolled your eyes happened to be lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans-gendered, queer-identified, black, or a card-carrying member of the National Organization of Women. All other individuals are considered to be capable of fending for themselves. That policy exists in order to ensure equality.
The answer to your second question is more difficult. Technically, one can never ?know? anything because the university does not endorse the belief that there is an external reality independent of one?s feelings.
Therefore, if the university feels like the offensive eye-rolling was based on any of the above factors you will be presumed guilty (unless you are able to prove yourself innocent without the help of an attorney or any other form of due process). This is the current practice because so many UNC administrators want to live in a country just like the former Soviet Union.
If you think my responses to your questions were made in jest, consider the following:
1. A Vagina Warrior (a co-ed who starred in the Vagina Monologues) wrote me an offensive e-mail talking about her ?vagina.? The university did not declare that to be an example of harassment.
2. Another student put a sign on my door calling me an ?a**hole? and said I shouldn?t be allowed to reproduce. She also put condoms in my mailbox. The university did not declare that to be an example of harassment.
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