After eight months of work, the University of Rochester Commission for Women and Gender Equity in Academia has released its preliminary report.
The group formed last fall, after sexual harassment allegations were made against professor Florian Jaeger.
The report says that while the university has made a number of changes already in the spirit of their motto “Meliora,” there is still room for more work.
A new policy specifies that faculty members are not permitted to have intimate relationships with anyone whom they have academic authority, and also spells out what "academic authority" means.
The report also states that the University has made a number of changes in the aftermath of that harassment case, including revisions to Policy 106, discussions about a new Office for Equity, and numerous efforts to more clearly explain existing policies for the campus community.
Antoinette Esce is a co-chair of the commission. She is positive about what she feels the university will be able to accomplish.
“I’m optimistic, I hope that we’ll be able to prioritize effectively as a group we can kind of tackle some of these things that need more immediate attention soon and that we don’t forget about some of the longer term issues in some of our strategic planning and ideally in our budgeting as well," Esce told WXXI News.
Interim President of UR Richard Feldman is impressed by the report and the effort it took to assemble.
"I was encouraged that so many of the recommendations that they identified were already starting to think about or in some cases already have completed, so I feel very much aligned by that."
Feldman says he recognizes how difficult it was for some to share their stories, and that it only makes him more committed to making the institute better.
The commission spoke with over 100 students, staff, faculty, and campus leaders; and received over 300 stories and suggestions through their online feedback form, which will remain open.
Feldman says that he is not only open to but insistent on working with the commission.
"It’s a collaborative process and so we absolutely have to work with them and other groups on campus."
“we want to make sure that we stick around as long as it takes I guess to make sure that the things that we heard and the suggestions we have gathered and all the research that we’ve done and the ideas that we have in this report; not necessarily that they are all completed and tucked away, but that they’re all being addressed somehow
Esce says this commission will remain active.
“We want to make sure that we stick around as long as it takes I guess, to make sure that the things that we heard and the suggestions we have gathered and all the research that we’ve done and the ideas that we have in this report; not necessarily that they are all completed and tucked away, but that they’re all being addressed somehow."
The commission says this report is just the beginning; and through the process say the more they learned about the problems they were trying to solve, the more difficult it seemed to solve some of them.