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'I know we can do better': Price announces next steps for addressing harassment in the workplace

After 17 percent of faculty, staff and graduate students reported being harassed in their academic environment, President Vincent Price has called on fellow administrators to create action plans to address the issue. 

"We are fortunate to be a part of one of the world’s great institutions of higher learning, but I know we can do better," Price wrote in an email to all faculty and staff Monday. "I also know you share my commitment to ensuring we treat every member of our community with the civility and respect they deserve."

In the email, Price presented the results of a survey sent to all in academic units this August. Seventeen percent of faculty, staff and graduate students have reported feeling harassed or uncomfortable in their academic unit based upon "age, disability, gender, race/ethnicity, religious beliefs, sexual harassment, or sexual orientation” in the last five years. 

Sexual harassment was the most-reported action, ahead of race/ethnicity-based harassment and gender and age harassment. 

Price noted that although there were differences in individual departments and units, the statistics were "broadly consistent with national trends for both large employers and academic institutions."

Price wrote that he has asked high-level administrators to meet with deans, department chairs and directors to address the situation going forward. Price wrote that he, Provost Sally Kornbluth and A. Eugene Washington, chancellor for health affairs and president and CEO of Duke University Health System, have asked for Abbas Benmamoun, vice provost for faculty advancement and Ann Brown, vice dean for faculty in the School of Medicine, to take action.

The requested steps include meeting with deans, department chairs and directors to review the findings of the survey within their realm, identify best practices and create action plans going forward. 

The survey was promulgated after Price wrote an email to the Duke community in February announcing that Duke would take self-assessment steps in light of "a profound moment of reckoning about sexual harassment in the academic world." 

"We must do more," Price wrote then. "We all have a responsibility to work together to build a campus free of sexual harassment, an academic community that allows all of its members to reach their potential and contribute fully to our missions of learning, discovery, and service."

Ben Leonard

Managing Editor 2018-19, 2019-2020 Features & Investigations Editor 

A member of the class of 2020 hailing from San Mateo, Calif., Ben is The Chronicle's Towerview Editor and Investigations Editor. Outside of the Chronicle, he is a public policy major working towards a journalism certificate, has interned at the Tampa Bay Times and NBC News and frequents Pitchforks. 


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