perp's in our lab space

Megan megan at ucla.edu
Wed Jun 4 21:10:54 EST 1997


I have a few comments on the topic presented by Sally...  some may not be
popular - here goes!
At 10:36 AM 6/4/97 -0700, Sally Burns wrote:
>Hi
>	Last fall I was working in the lab on a Sunday evening, and went to use
>the womens restroom. I saw a man go around the corner of the stall to an
>back area of the restroom  with a daybed. Thinking this guy just made a
>mistake and was embarrased, I yelled "this is the womens room" and left.
>I returned several minutes later and knocked, asked if any one was
>there--NO Answer. I entered the bathroom and looked  and there was this
>guy sitting on the couch with his pants down!!! I yelled at him, found
>another lab worker and called security. Since then he has been convicted
>of a misdemeanor charge and had to get counseling.((WHICH is known not
>to work very well when compulsory)
>
But you cannot know that it will not work with him until you give it a chance.
Would you rather no counseling was recommended?  It *may* help - I know of a
person who was convicted of a much worse sexual crime than this, involving a
child, and the compulsory counseling helped him, he is now a non-offending
member of society again.  It may help, it will depend on how he feels about
his deviancy.  If he views it as a problem, the counseling may help.  if he
does not want to change, the counseling will do nothing.

>This guy is a grad student and has an office and keys to one of the
>biggest lab buildings on campus.
>	I have contacted his chair, the ombudsperson and others. I think he
>should be restricted to daytime use of facilities where he poses less of
>a problem.  His presence is a direct threat to womne grad students, post
>docs, faculty and others who use this building.

It does not sound as though he is violent - he may be repulsive and you may
be offended by his clearly abberrant behavior, but I am not surprised that
the university cannot or will not restrict his presence to nighttime.  First
of all, they cannot physically restrain him, unless he is restrained by a
judge.  and if he has keys, who is going to follow him around and monitor
his coming and leaving?  This is clearly a nonviable option.  This does not
mean that i do not sympathize with you, but they cannot legally do this to
him, and it is not enforceable.

> 	Frankly I think he should be thrown out! He ceratinly should not get
>an assistanship. and the least would be to have his keys taken away so
>that he is restricted to daytime use of the facilities! I think the
>university is endangering other women, allowing a hostile environment to
>continue. 

How does his deviancy affect his assistantship?  Would you say the same of a
person who had committed theft?  Armed assault?  Breaking and entering?
Murder?  It is not legal for the university to restirict his access to the
facilities.  Unfortunate, but until he actually injures someone (and
hopefully he never will!!) they are not permitted to do anything like what
you suggest.

>	As a woman grad student I have had to go in and out of these labs very
>late  at night. 

As a male grad student, so does he.  doesnt make it any better, but he does
have a right to be there.  he does not have a right to behave lewdly.

It is bad enough that the U has giant bushes to walk
>past on the way to your car ((assuming you have one)). It is outrageous
>to me that a known perp is allowed privelidges. 

He is still a graduate student at the university - and until he is thrown
out, if that ever happens, he will have priveledges.  The university would
have a lawsuit of immense proportions if they tried to restict his access to
the equipment required for him to complete his degree - just as they would
if they tried to restict your access to said equipment.  That does not make
it right, or comfortable for you, but it is a fact.
<snip, snip>
>	I believe I have the right to a safe workplace. It is not possible to
>do graduate work in the science without  working nights and weekends in
>the lab. I do not want to share space with a known  sexual perpertrator.
>This limits my ability to focus on my work.

There are *lots* of sexual perpetrators out there, probably all of us know
one or two, we just dont know their history.  Most of them you would never
know it.
		
>Beyond this individual pig there is an issue of the U's silence and
>complicity.
>	I have been told and I believe that some dept chairs would get rid of
>this guy ASAP. There are still to many good old boys and IT Should Not 
>Be  Up to the Chair! (and dont we know its a chairMAN) 

I agree.  I am surprised, since this occured on university property, that
there is not some panel which would handle something like this, like the
ombudsman, or a vice chancellor of some sort...  I think at UCLA this might
be handled by the same group who handles cheating, but i dont know.  Find
out how they handle this kind of behavior in the dorms - there must have
been something like it at the dorms on campus, at some time.  Certainly some
sort of sanctions could be placed on him to prevent his doing it again, and
punishment of some sort from the University if he does.  I doubt this could
be removal from the uni, but there are a variety of other forms of reprisal
which could be threatened - especially if he continues to do this.

>	The university has no policy  on this type of thing,  to inform the
>students chair, co-workers, etc, it has no suspension policy or anything
>else. If I hadnt contactedd the guys dept, no one would have known... We
>have a big university police dept,they dont do anything but arrest the
>guy.
>	I have asked what type of crime a student would have to commit for an
>automatic response of the university to kick in. There has been no real
>answer.

I have heard of students stealing private (on-campus) and university
property and not getting expelled - they were put through the criminal court
system.  I suspect this crime will not result in his being removed from the
university.

>	I have heard alot about the perp's rights. Maybe the U is afraid he
>would sue them if his career path was  disrupted. I wonder where the
>legal rights of women to a hazard free workspace are. Maybe that only
>includes hazardous buildings and equiptment...maybe perpetrator men are
>just considered to be a hazard no one can do anything about.

again, it sounds to me like he was exposing himself, generally people who
are into that are not violent, though of course there are always exceptions.
You could look into the option of a lawsuit if they do not deal with the
person in someway - if your uni has a law school, see if they have a Student
Legal Services office.

>The university I am at has made a big deal of having the only university
>sponsered battered womens sheltor, called SAFEPLACE. It is sad that the
>safeplace is restricted to one shelter!

and unfortunate that you cannot move your lab equipment there to work at
night!!  Or better yet, make him move his somewhere at night.

>	I have been a reader of this newsgroup for a long time and hope that
>someone will have ideas. I am curious what sort of policy (or lack of
>policy) exists in other places. Thanks for a space to rant and get
>support.(((another alternative to  crying or breaking something)

I would seriously recommend that you get some mace or pepper spray.  if you
see him in the womens room again, use it on him, and target the sensitive
bits he is exposing, if possible...  That may do more than the counseling or
any threats from the university.

>
>Sally Burns
>
>burnssal at pilot.msu.edu
I am really sorry that you are being put in this unfortunate situation by
this creep.  It is a scary situation, but I suspect you are not in serious
danger by this jerk.  I would be angry about the lack of interest shown by
the university, but i would be very surprised if there was a whole lot they
could do about it.

Megan Igo
UCLA




More information about the Womenbio mailing list