Sexual Harassment and Ongoing Challenges


Recorded March 7, 2022

Sexual harassment is endemic in every aspect of society, so ubiquitous that it often goes without challenge. And yet the challenges, explicit and implicit, invite us to confront the structural problems that make sexual harassment possible, even common, in academic institutions and organizations. We all participate in some way in institutions that have allowed for harm to women and other vulnerable members of our guild to occur unremarked and without protest. These same challenges invite us to question the legal system that creates competing priorities – putting institutional viability at risk against the voices of those who have been harmed under its wings.

We all share responsibility for working to make institutions and organizations better—both individually and collectively—by naming these injustices and for working to change the structures.

This webinar, as one step in this challenging work, brings together a range of AAR members who have worked on these issues, to engage in dialogue on imagining a better way forward.

Webinar Presenters

Janet R. Jakobsen | Jakobsen is the Claire Tow Professor of Women's Gender and Sexuality Studies at Barnard College, Columbia University. She served fifteen years as Director of the Barnard Center for Research on Women (BCRW), and she has also served as Dean for Faculty Diversity and Development. Professor Jakobsen is the author many books, most recently The Sex Obsession: Perversity and Possibility in American Politics, a 2021 Finalist for the Lambda Literary Award in LGBTQ Studies.

Thelathia "Nikki" Young | Young is associate provost for equity and inclusive excellence and associate professor of women's and gender studies and religion at Bucknell University. She received her Ph.D. from Emory University, M.Div. and Th.M. from Candler School of Theology, and B.A. from UNC-Asheville. Her research focuses on the intersection of ethics, family, race, gender, and sexuality, and she is interested in the impact of queerness on moral reasoning.

Hannah Ross | Ross was appointed as the first General Counsel of Middlebury College on December 1, 2016. She serves as the General Counsel to the liberal arts college in Vermont, as well as the Middlebury Institute for International Studies in Monterey, California, the Bread Loaf School of English, and Middlebury's Language Schools and Schools Abroad. She provides legal and strategic advice to the President, the Board of Trustees, and senior administrators. She has particular expertise in issues of student health and safety, including threat assessment, managing students in crisis, and self-harming situations, as well as issues of open expression, campus speech and protest, governance and policy development, privacy, and copyright. Ms. Ross served on the National Association of College and University Attorneys (NACUA) Board of Directors and continues to be actively involved as a NACUA member and regularly writes and speaks on higher education legal issues.

Laura S. Levitt | Levitt is a professor of religion, Jewish studies, and gender at Temple University where she has chaired the Religion Department and directed both the Jewish studies and the gender, sexuality and women’s studies programs. She is the chair of the Association for Jewish Studies’ Office on Sexual Misconduct. Levitt is the author of The Objects that Remain (2020); American Jewish Loss after the Holocaust (2007); and Jews and Feminism: The Ambivalent Search for Home (1997). She also co-edited Impossible Images: Contemporary Art After the Holocaust (2003) and Judaism Since Gender (1997).


Kelly Brown Douglas | Reverend Brown Douglas serves as the Dean of the Episcopal Divinity School at Union Theological Seminary and the Bill and Judith Moyers Chair in Theology at Union. She is also Canon Theologian at the Washington National Cathedral and Theologian in Residence at Trinity Church Wall Street. Douglas’s academic work has focused on womanist theology, sexuality and the Black church, and racial and social justice. She is the author of many articles and books, including Resurrection Hope: A Future Where Black Lives Matter, Stand Your Ground: Black Bodies and the Justice of God, and Sexuality and the Black Church: A Womanist Perspective