UMD removes equal opportunity director position

Deborah S Petersen-Perlman PhD, had been UMD’s Director of the Office of Equal Opportunity, since 1996.

What message does this send about how seriously the University of Minnesota Duluth takes reports of harassment and discrimination?

With complaints being redirected to the main U of M campus, how much longer do you think investigations will take moving forward?

How many students, staff and faculty will feel even more intimidated when considering lodging an official complaint which will automatically go to the statewide office?

16 Comments

Rick F

about 12 years ago

Who cares? It's a BS position in the first place. Discrimination of all types happen because we're human, it will always happen, nobody can stop it or even slow it down for that matter. Bleeding heart liberal fluff positions like this have no place in this tough economy, they just get in the way of real progress. Get over it!

edgeways

about 12 years ago

Well, do you have any more information than what you put in the post? A link to the confirmation she was removed and didn't quit, are they hiring someone new? As it stands, as written this may be interesting, but I doubt you are going to get anyone riled up without providing substantiation. Please and thanks.

Tom

about 12 years ago

I'd like to hear more about this.  It's not like you're even here saying, "I heard from a friend, who knows a guy, who knows a guy that works as a janitor at UMD, who overheard a conversation in the chancellor's office"...

You get the picture.  I'd like to know more about this from an actual, verified news organization, or at least somebody from UMD that has knowledge of the situation.  Did they just eliminate the position?  Is Petersen-Perlman leaving the school, and they decided not to refill the position?  I know she's also a part-time professor at UMD, so is she voluntarily giving up the OEO and teaching full-time?  Is she pissed that Rod Raymond wasn't canned?  Who says that the Main U is handling all complaints now?  Wouldn't it be much better, more efficient, and frankly less expensive for complaints to be handled at UMD?

I'd really like to hear the answers to some of these questions (assuming the position is indeed being removed).

Tom

about 12 years ago

Okay, in all fairness, you DID say "without explanation," so you probably can't answer most of my questions.  But I'd like to know where you got this information.

@ndy

about 12 years ago

The Office of Equal Opportunity at UMD doesn't consist of one person. You're speaking as if the entire office is being eliminated, which doesn't appear to be the case.

[email protected]

about 12 years ago

To the best of my knowledge this is not "news," and I think it follows from changes in administration (e.g. new chancellor, three or more new vice-chancellors, one new dean).  This is not to deny or accept any questions about politics  behind this choice, or whether it was voluntary or not -- all of these dynamics may be still in play.

On the other hand, when a University changes administration, it changes throughout the organization.  Because tenured faculty are typically those moving in and out of the classroom, those unseated retain jobs and simply step back into more teaching.

In any case, as @ndy notes, I see no evidence of anything other than a change in directorship or the removal of a faculty member as the director, perhaps to be replaced by another faculty member or a staff member, or perhaps a reorganization of the office which would eliminate the faculty director as a position.  Anything more to contextualize?

spy1

about 12 years ago

The position/office was victim of budget cuts and the explanation was that it was a duplicative services of main U. UMD HR will now do the director position duties with the main U. Deb still teaches at UMD. It wasn't a conspiracy but news wasn't necessarily distributed in a mass UMD email. There are people speaking out about the likely consequences of this cut and if you are so moved, you should as well.

Lojasmo

about 12 years ago

Well, that sort of sucks.  In for more news.

Judy M

about 12 years ago

Here is a theory.  Deborah Petersen-Perlman may have been partly blamed for the media relations and legal nightmare that came from the Rod Raymond scandal.  Petersen-Perlman gave a detailed assessment of that case, and her assessment was published by the DNT.  It included accusations from a number of female students.  Without Petersen-Perlman's assessment, the university could have kept much of the case under wraps.  If the Twin Cities office handles it in conjunction with the main university lawyers, they can avoid similar leaks in the future.  I hear that the university recently told the OEO office that they no longer could offer assessments like that.  This appears to be an attempt to plug leaks that could cause legal and media relations problems.  To paraphrase Rick F, sexual harrassment and discrimination is a common problem.  The university does not want any such common crime to stain its reputation and drag it into any legal messes.

One question is: Will there be strong policies and protections for students and staff in the future without a strong advocate on campus?  

Other questions are: What is the university policy on instructors making sexual advances on students?  Is it written down somewhere?  Is it okay for instructors to make sexual advances on students, per university policy?  Who is the student advocate now?

[email protected]

about 12 years ago

PS:  I'm not sure "without explanation" is accurate.

Issa

about 12 years ago

My racial harassment case by a coworker was assigned to Deb and she did nothing for me except listen to my complaint. The co-worker that was harassing me was spoken to once to get his side of the story and there were no repercussions even though he publicly threatened and harassed me with multiple witnesses while we were both working for the university. She did not interview any witnesses (who also submitted complaints based on very public and explosive event) and the whole situation was swept under the rug. I have heard from others that this is exactly what happened to them too, she was just there to listen to complaints and not do anything about them.

Based on my experiences, which I admit are few, that position is/was not worth the money, but maybe I just haven't heard about the good that she did and my personal experience has tainted my opinion.

bluenewt

about 12 years ago

When a student wrote an inappropriate, threatening, sexual email to me, Deborah handled it with great compassion, smarts, and professionalism. I was impressed and grateful.

adam

about 12 years ago

Here is a theory: Trilateral Commission; aliens.

bleep

about 12 years ago

Dr. Peterson-Pearlman is/was required to be neutral in her interviews which can appear very cold.  Another important restriction (which may have become even more limited in the past year):  the equal opportunity office can only make a recommendation for University action.  Generally, not following the recommendation of equal opportunity is unheard of. . . but that also seems to have changed. . .

Judy M

about 12 years ago

The equal opportunity office can no longer make a recommendation for University action like termination. It seems that the office's justification for and recommendation to terminate Rod Raymond was acquired by the DNT and was very embarrassing.  They don't want that to happen again.

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