for as long as half a decade. The school does not mind waiting.rnIt has bags of mone’ to spend on defense and all the time inrnthe wodd.rnAnother Dallas attorney points out that most schools wouldrnfar rather risk a “wrongful dismissal” suit than “take a federalrnhit.” The former could cost the school hundreds of thousands,rnbut the latter could run into millions of dollars and create arn”domino effect” that could continue for years. The facultyrnmember, though, who is not teaching and is not drawing arnsalary because he has taken the matter into a public forum,rnprobably is not employable. Further, about all he can hope tornwin from his suit is restitution of back pay and restoration to hisrnformer position, full in the knowledge that everyone on therncampus knows he was guilty—after all, did the university notrnsay so?—and that his colleagues and department head resentrnhis presence. OnK’ then can he sue for damages and attemptrnto prove his innocence.rnIn the meantime, legal bills mount up. One faculty memberrnwas looking at more than $25,000 by the end of his universityrncommittee hearings. Another $15,000 was required to filernsuit, and yet another $10,000 would be due when the casernwent to court. He might not recover these costs, even if hernwins, not without filing a damages suit, which will require evenrnmore up-front money with even less likelihood of a return.rnIt is an incredible situation. In a way, it is as if a New Inquisitionrnhas risen, wherein only the suggestion of heresy is thernoccasion for a full auto-da-fe, wherein somebody has to be pilloriedrnto maintain the stability of a corrupt system. Perhaps arnmore contemporar- if not more fitting analogy would be foundrnin the early 50’s, when professors were called in and grilledrnabout the political affiliations of their youth. Now, as then,rncomparatively sane, logical, and intellectual administratorsrnfind themselves fearfully responding to mass hysteria. America’srnuniversities saw the ruination of many careers and thernalmost complete destruction of academic freedom, all to protectrnschools from governmental or social reprisals if thev stoodrntheir ground and exercised constitutionally mandated rights.rnBut this is no illustration of a philosophical question aboutrndue process and fundamental democratic rights or academicrnfreedom. It is a dangerous mania that is sweeping throughrnthe nation’s universities and creating a “climate of fear” thatrnforces individuals to be so guarded in their associations, casualrncomments, and even formal lectures that thev begin to suspectrneveryone around them of being spies, ready to do them in forrnthe most innocent of remarks or gestures if the)- give offense onrnan’ grounds whatsoever. Every coed is a potential Mata Hari,rneverv colleague a potential fink.rnAt this writing, cases are being prepared to fight against thisrnunbridled abridgment of individual liberty and attack on academicrnfreedom. But in the meantime, no one knows for surernhow many hundreds—or even thousands—of highly qualifiedrnand capable faculty members hae quietly resigned and fadedrnoff into the darkness to avoid public scandal and personalrnattacks by the very schools to which they had dedicated theirrncareers. Victims of hysterical reactions or collegial jealousy orrndepartmental politics, some of these people have given up 20rnor 30 years of tenure because unlike even an accused thief orrnmurderer, they were not permitted to face their accusers, wererndenied due process, and were forced to prove their innocencernin the face of abstract and often totally subjective and unprovenrntestimonv.rnThus, the dramatic opening to this essay is not so incrediblernat all. It may well be a fairly accurate representation of arntragedy that is being played out on some university campus everyrnweek of every- semester. One dean said that he was takingrnearly retirement rather than face another case. He believedrnthat universities in America were entering a “dark period,”rnwhere their function, their value, indeed their very existencernwill be called into question by a society that alread’ sees themrnas general wastes of time and money, filled with myopic,rnoversexed professors whose interests run far too much to thernphilosophical and away from the pragmatic, too much towardrnnubile young coeds and away from solid “family values.”rnThe current situation involving sexual harassment casesrnseems to underscore the correctness of this bleak vision. Butrnregardless of what status universities may enjoy in the future,rnthe most tragic result of this drama may be its negative impactrnon women’s advancement in the academy. The inevitable resultrnof the probability of unfounded accusations resulting inrnthe ruination of a career is that men will become suspicious ofrnany female colleague who expresses friendliness or seeks closernprofessional association, Male professors will eventually becomernfearful of so much as speaking to female students, letrnalone offering them counsel and advice on matters academic.rnIf almost any comment or aside can be deliberately misconstruedrnas a double entendre and used as a basis for complaint,rnwhy risk speaking to am woman at all? Why not draw anrninvisible line between men and women in the academy andrnestablish, if need be, a separate but equal policy that preventsrnall contact between the sexes?rnFor years, women have justifiably complained that thernacademy is a “man’s bastion” and “old boy” network; if thisrntrend toward unjust treatment for those merely accused ofrnsexual harassment continues, if women can bring unfoundedrnand unproved allegations without fear of reprisals if they arerndemonstrated to be false or brought only for personal gain,rnthen the very forces that set out to protect women from unwantedrnsexual advances may be guilty of building higher andrntighter walls between males and females in the university. Collegialityrncannot possibly be achieved when one gender worksrnand lives in fear of the other; the inevitable result will be an effectivernbarrier to opportunities for female advancement.rnOn the other hand, women are not necessarih imperviousrnto this “witch hunt” mentality. At least a handful of cases involverncomplaints by men against their female professors whorn”came on” to them. Likewise, there are currently cases involvingrnhomosexual and lesbian advances on students. We mightrnrecall that the Grand Inquisitor was wonderfully multiculturalrnin his charges.rnIt may be time to stop and define precisely what is meant byrnsexual harassment, rather than leave it to abstract interpretationrnand subjective impression. There is no question that it exists,rnor that it is an evil in the work or study place. But whilernclear violations need to be reported and perpetrators punished,rnit should never have become a weapon to be used against thosernwho are merely careless or unpopular or who have merely trodrnon the wrong toes in the course of building their careers. Itrnmay well be up to those who started the hysteria to stop itrnbefore a “backlash” occurs that defeats whatever purposes havernbeen achieved by those who seek to protect women—andrnmen—from unwanted sexual advances.rnMAY 1995/21rnrnrn