Chancellor should support victims, students

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Retired professor Brian Kevin Beck posited last week that Chancellor Kopper should not step down because she has not failed in any of her responsibilities.

Chancellor Kopper herself said that her primary responsibility as Chancellor has always been “ensuring that UW-Whitewater is a welcoming campus for all.”

After three women have come forth to accuse her husband Pete Hill of sexual harassment, an independent investigator has concluded that not only did these accusations have merit but Hill was “unlikely to change his conduct to meet the professional standards of UW-Whitewater,” it’s not a stretch to say she failed in this regard.

The letter sent to Chancellor Kopper from UW System President Ray Cross banning Hill from multiple UW campuses came on June 22 of this year. We didn’t hear from Chancellor Kopper on the matter until Sept. 14, after the semester had started. Not surprisingly, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel published their story on Sept. 14. It’s very fair to ask if Chancellor Kopper’s email to us, the campus community, was a response to the article published or a courageous act of transparency. Her lack of public support for the alleged victims leads me to believe the former.

Outside of the three women who filed complaints against Hill for inappropriate conduct, the independent investigation notes that two additional women were approached for comment and “Neither was willing to speak on the record for fear of retaliation and ruin to their careers.”

I don’t envy Chancellor Kopper’s position. But an independent investigation led to the conclusion that these sexual assaults have merit. The investigation also led to employees explicitly saying they are afraid of retribution.

In Chancellor Kopper’s email to the campus community she expressed no remorse for the victims of the sexual harassment. She stated that “as your Chancellor, I have worked diligently to ensure each of you has the supportive environment you need and deserve in which to do your amazing work.”

I ask Chancellor Kopper: How can that be true when employees and students are afraid to go on the record out of fear of retribution?

It’s unfortunate that Chancellor Kopper has to choose whether to support victims of sexual harassment or her husband. But she’s our Chancellor, and she needs to make that choice publicly. She has a responsibility to us. If the Chancellor is unwilling to support the victims and denounce her husband’s actions, then we deserve a Chancellor who will.

—Jordan Stoecklin

UW-Whitewater junior

BA History major