[CW - sexual harassment]
It has come to our attention that Professor Julia Hirschberg sent an email to Computer Science TAs arguing graduate student unionization would not help students fight sexual harassment on campus. Professor Hirschberg also contends EVP Suzanne Goldberg stated Columbia University is the only school in the country to provide legal support to students going through the gender-based misconduct process.
We were very confused to read this alleged assertion from EVP Goldberg, as it is not grounded in reality. Title IX encourages schools to provide students the option of having an attorney-advisor throughout the gender-based misconduct process, and many schools in the nation provide students with optional attorney-advisors.
We further find the legal support Columbia offers insufficient. Columbia employs the services of Sanctuary for Families. However, Sanctuary for Families has a history of discouraging survivors from pursuing complaints, preventing survivors from documenting their cases, and relaying confidential information disclosed to them to Columbia in violation of attorney-client privilege (with the justification that Columbia is the “client”); Sanctuary for Families’ interest lies in protecting the University, not students who come to them for help.
In contrast, union legal representation for students during the gender-based misconduct process would have one person’s interest at heart: the best interest of the student seeking help.
As an organization that advocates for survivors of sexual harassment, we fully support graduate student unionization. A union is necessary to combat the sexual harassment Columbia has allowed to run rampant on campus. Professor Hirschberg and EVP Goldberg’s assertions that Columbia is sufficiently addressing sexual harassment on campus are insulting and categorically false.
We encourage all graduate students and undergraduate TAs to vote for unionization on December 7th and 8th. For more information on unionization, please click here.