News and Views for Consideration and Reflection

  1. Great petition! I’ve linked to it in my various blog posts and it does appear to be getting some traction.

  2. Defining harassment–a blog by THOMAS BASBØLL–examines how harassment is defined by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and compares it to AAS’s definition.

  3. Sadly, the fallout and division surrounding these cases is nothing short of epic. I would have thought that mature, highly-educated professionals would behave in a manner consistent with their degrees and standing in their particular fields. It seems, though, that education has very little to to do with character, justice, fairness and the truth. Telling the truth, or even *attempting* to tell the truth gets you “blocked” (Twitter, Facebook, etc). I have posted an addendum/ update here: http://wp.me/p6EO97-z4 wherein I describe this in more detail.

  4. Recently, CSWA (Committee on the Status of Women in Astronomy), a member committee of the American Astronomical Society (AAS), floated the idea within the AAS of establishing a “Blacklist”, essentially a data base of “sexual harassers”. Not only is this idea abhorrent and inconsistent with our basic principles of democracy, it is out of character with the organization’s mission, it exposes the AAS to all kinds of legal problems that can only be imagined.

    Sadly, when the expansion of the universe is often discussed, it’s always within an Edwin Hubble context. What is rarely discussed is, that without the contribution of Henrietta Swan Leavitt, Hubble may not have been so successful. I always include her contribution in any lesson I teach about Hubble or the expanding universe. And we can’t forget Annie Jump Cannon. The AAS awards a prize in her honor; if anyone knows anything about “Blacklists”, their use and history, it is a grotesque insult to Annie Jump Cannon, her legacy, astronomy, women in general, women in astronomy, the AAS and it’s members that the CSWA would embark on such an enterprise!

    I want to believe the AAS rejected the idea out of hand. I was prepared to renounce my membership in protest if they did adopt it.

    https://twitter.com/AstroTopic/status/688456309616832512 (Twitter post in response to Administrator Bolden and NASA regarding his public statement to Grantees).

  5. Thank you for posting a link to my new article! As a follow up, Charles F. Bolden, current NASA Administrator, yesterday issued a statement entitled:
    “NASA Administrator Communicates Harassment Policies to Grantees”: https://www.nasa.gov/press-release/nasa-administrator-communicates-harassment-policies-to-grantees

    Sadly, Administrator Bolden, in his remarks, neglected to reaffirm NASA’s commitment to due process, the presumption of innocence and the right of the accused to confront their accuser, bedrock components of our democracy. Let us hope that what appears now to be a downward spiral towards “crusaders” and mob rule is tempered with reason, thoughtful action and meaningful dialog. Previously, Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA; 14) introduced legislation that would mandate the results of any Title IX investigation within this context and framework be transmitted to all universities and institutions who receive Title IX funding, essentially creating a federal database or “Blacklist”. The federal government should not be inserting itself into academia. We already have the legal framework and protections in place necessary to address this problem without the introduction of any new legislation.

    Instead of introducing new legislation and issuing public policy statements, all parties involved should be engaged in meaningful conversations that seek a just, meaningful and lasting solution. Conversations, not crusades, are what is needed now. We need thoughtful conversations and dialogs, not new laws and regulations, always with an eye towards the necessary respect for each other.

  6. And a new one from Thomas Madigan. Interesting new insights in the comments about UCB internal politics.

  7. Interesting new article from Hontas Farmer.

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