Report of the Ad Hoc Committee on the Department's Learning Environment for Women Graduate Students

Material Information

Report of the Ad Hoc Committee on the Department's Learning Environment for Women Graduate Students
Series Title:
Food and resource economics special series number 97-1
Portion of title:
Ad Hoc Committee on the Department's Learning Environment for Women Graduate Students
University of Florida -- Food and Resource Economics Dept
Place of Publication:
Gainesville Fla
Food and Resource Economics, Insitute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida
Publication Date:
Physical Description:
8 leaves : ; 28 cm.


Subjects / Keywords:
Women graduate students -- Florida ( lcsh )
Agriculture -- Economic aspects -- Study and teaching (Higher) ( lcsh )
non-fiction ( marcgt )


General Note:
"May 1997."
General Note:
Spiral bound.
Electronic resources created as part of a prototype UF Institutional Repository and Faculty Papers project by the University of Florida.

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Resource Identifier:
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Full Text
Food and Resource Economics Special Series Number 97-1
Report of the
Food and Resource Economics
Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences
University of Florida
Gainesville, Florida 32611
May 1997

Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences McCarty Hall
Food and Resource Economics Department P0 Box 110240
(352) 392-1826 Gainesville FL 32611-0240
Fax (352) 846-0988
May 20, 1997
TO: Members of FRED
FROM: John Gord~ A i
SUBJECT: Report oi/Ad Hoc Committee on Improving theLearning Environent in the Department
In March of 1997 I appointed an ad hoc committee of graduate students and faculty to identify' specific actions and/or activities that the Department could pursue to assure a safe, comfortable learning environment for women graduate students. This committee has completed its
assignment and I am pleased to share their report with you.
The report addresses corrective and preventive processes and also makes several helpful suggestions regarding improving the FRE learning environment. I fully support the recommendations of the committee. Some of the suggestions can be implemented immediately and
others will require some additional study and/or thought on how to implement.
The committee's transmittal memorandum recommended that we address the problem of our national reputation regarding women students directly by asking the students to prepare an article for possible publication in the AAEA Committee on Women in Agricultural Economics Newsletter or other appropriate outlet. The proposed article would acknowledge that FRED had a problem with an inappropriate environment regarding sexual harassment and relate what we did to address the situation. No doubt other departments have similar or worse situations. Perhaps they can learn from our experience. Regardless, the profession would know that Florida has addressed its problems. Dori Coiner has agreed to help organize the preparation of the article. This is an
interesting idea and I am giving it serious consideration.
There is substantial literature on sexual harassment in the academic work place. Four recent books on the topic have been ordered and will be available in our departmental reference room. I hope you will read some of this material. It helps in understanding the various aspects of
this issue.
An Equal Opportunity /Affirmative Action Employer

The committee report identifies several activities to proactively facilitate improving the department's learning environment. Getting better acquainted is an important first step. To encourage this, I am initiating an activity I describe as "take a graduate student to lunch" where two or three faculty will treat two to three graduate students to lunch during which discussion will focus on getting acquainted and related light conversation. (Preferably, the faculty would not be the major professor or current teacher of the students going to lunch.) Alice has agreed to help organize this volunteer program.
At the faculty information exchange on March 19, 1997, 1 reported that the WFAS Review Team had completed its assignment and appropriate actions taken. We have made a great deal of progress this past year. Individual attitudes are positive and constructive. There is still a great deal of work to be done and this report helps point the way. My thanks to the members of the committee for helping us understand how to proceed.
cc: J. Davidson
L. Connor
R. Jones
C. Stephens

of the
Food and Resource Economics Department Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences
University of Florida
Gainesville, Florida 32611
May 1997

Chris Andrew, Professor and Chair of the Ad Hoc Committee
Elena Bastidas, Graduate Student
Charlene Brewster, Graduate Student
Dori Corner, Associate Professor
John Holt, Professor
Kim Langedyk, Graduate Student
Mike Olexa, Professor
Trevor Woollery, Graduate Student
SEXUAL HARASSMENT POLICY................................................................. 2
CORRECTIVE PROCESSES......................................................................... 2
PREVENTIVE PROCESSES.............I...........I................................................. 2
IMPROVING THE FRE LEARNING ENVIRONMENT.......................................... 3
APPENDIX A........................................................................................... 7
APPENDIX B........................................................................................... 8

LEARNING ENVIRONMENT FOR WOMEN GRADUATE STUDENTS The Food and Resource Economics Department Ad Hoc Committee Report
" identify specific actions and/or activities that the Department could pursue to assure a safe, comfortable learning environment for our women graduate students." Dr. John Gordon, 3/4/97
Program Framework:
The committee considers the task to include three components (viewed as a wheel in the figure below): (A) Learning, (B) Proactive and (C)CorrectionfPrevention.
Correction (C), consisting of legal constraints and university policy concerning sexual harassment, is an essential core component (see page 2). The desire is that knowledge of strong corrective action, when people are well informed of the consequences of wrong behavior, will be a deterrent to sexual harassment. In the event of wrong behavior, quick and appropriate action is necessary for all concerned and will help restore confidence.
Proactive action (B), requires effective management of four environments: 1. social
interaction, 2. professionalism, 3. individual mentoring, and 4. community integration (see page 4). Each of these environments deals with tangible ways for a person to relate to the Department as a safe, comfortable learning environment.
The desire is to move away from the need for corrective action and toward a proactive, safe and comfortable learning environment (A). Successful prevention will result from firm policy, effective education and meaningful interaction in the Food and Resource Economidcs Department.

Food and Resource Economics Department
The Food and Resource Economics Department is committed to a learning environment free of sexual harassment; committed to preventing it; and committed to prompt remedial action consistent with federal and state law.
" There are appropriate contact person(s) for graduate students, which are:
" A female graduate student for initial contact. Females may be reluctant to make
complaints or discuss sexual harassment with faculty or male graduate students.
" A female faculty member for liaison with the female graduate student designee and/or
alleged victim.
* 512=d. Investigate complaints of sexual harassment "promptly and thoroughly". All parties
involved in a sexual harassment complaint are entitled to a speedy investigation and
resolution. Not only do the EEOC guidelines call for prompt and thorough complaint
investigation but also enhances the credibility of the College. A best case scenario would
be one where the investigation is completed within a week or two of the complaint.
* At the conclusion of the investigation, the Chair and Graduate Coordinator should inform
FRE faculty and graduate students respectively of the investigation's outcome. Naturally, care should always be taken not to reveal unconfirmed information during the course of a
sexual harassment investigation.
" Education. Education shall mirror and complement the University of Florida's "Policy On
Sexual Harassment" by including:
*An annual departmental workshop designed to inform all graduate students of the
University of Florida's Policy On Sexual Harassment. Areas stressed should include:
* Definition of sexual harassment.
* Federal and state laws prohibiting sexual harassment.
" University procedures for handling complaints or alleged incidents.

*An annual departmental workshop for all FE faculty stressing that:
* An employer is liable for any harassment when it is aware orho.uldhave
known of the harassment and takes no corrective action.
* Corrective action can include dismissal of tenured faculty.
* FR.E will seek prompt remedial action.
0 There is a need to develop and implement a sexual harassment risk management process for:
* Identifying and analyzing potential risks. For example, official functions at local bars
should be strongly discouraged.
" Considering alternative ways of handling the risks.
* Selecting the best alternative.
* Implementing the decision.
* Conducting periodic evaluation and review.
Improving the FRE Learning Environment
The committee identified four broad areas in which there need to be activities that will proactively facilitate improving the FRE learning environment. These four areas are (1) professional development, (2) mentoring, (3) community integration, and (4) social interaction. It is recognized that these four areas overlap; however, the essential components of each are discussed below.
Faculty Professional Development
Objective: Create a culture in which the FE faculty view professional development activities
for graduate students as an integral part of the academic education.
Rationale: This department is responsible for the training of future economists, hence
professional development objectives should be an explicit part of the FRE graduate
programs. Faculty need to be made aware of the importance of professional
development activities to students' education and competitiveness on the job market.
Means: Provide student teaching opportunities to all doctoral students. Many of them will
be seeking jobs in academia and it is important that their first teaching experiences be
during their graduate education rather than out on their first jobs. Given that there
are budgetary constraints which may limidt the ability for each to be a paid instructor
of a course, the department should seek creative ways to facilitate providing this
opportunity. One suggestion would be to develop an internship program in which
students assist faculty who are active in undergraduate teaching. This would be
particularly valuable for courses in the graduate student's area of specialty.

Encourage student/faculty publications for audiences within the department and for
the wider academic community.
Give greater focus on participation and attendance at conference/meetings by
graduate students in general and doctoral students in particular.
Include graduate student representatives at some departmental faculty meetings.
This will facilitate the development of administrative capabilities and create an
increased awareness of the workings of FRED.
Foster development of informal working relationships in which students would work
with faculty on research, administrative, or teaching projects. These would expose
students to a number of research areas, provide an opportunity to develop a
respectable publication record, and give faculty the ability to write stronger letters of
Establish a clearing house (electronically or via additions to the newsletter) that
would allow faculty to advertise availability of paid (and unpaid) opportunities for
students to work with them on projects.
Develop a weekly seminar series. No FRE courses would be scheduled during the meeting time for this seminar series, refreshments would be served and all students andfaculz)' would be expected to attend. Every graduate student would present at
least one seminar, outside of their thesis and dissertation proposals. These may
highlight current interests, working thought, or be a topical issue for conversation.
Develop a seminar series that would promote professional improvement. Topics
would include grantsmanship, presentation techniques (both presentation and making
of audio visual materials), information on legal liabilities, professionalism, career
MentorinS Program
Objective: Provide a support network for students in FRED through the provision of mentors
to graduate students and through the fostering of a graduate/undergraduate student
mentoring program.
Rationale: Graduate students frequently do not have a major professor until after they have
been in the department for one or more semesters. A mentor during this stage
would serve several purposes. First, the mentor may facilitate the decision process
of selecting a committee. Second, the mentor would serve as a source of
information and advice. In addition, this program would provide students with an
opportunity to become acquainted with faculty of FRED. Mentoring of

undergraduate students by graduate students may stimulate greater interest in
graduate school from current FRED undergraduates, as well as prepare current
graduate students who may have to perform this role in the future.
Means: Assign each incoming graduate student (and "veteran" students, if they wish) to a
faculty mentor. This mentor would be a source of information about the University
and Gainesville. He/she would serve as a sounding board for research ideas,
committee selection, job opportunities or anything else that may come up in the
students academic or professional activities. The mentors would be assigned on an
annual basis.
Involve graduate students as mentors for FRED undergraduate students. Possible
areas of involvement include graduate students' assisting as team "coaches" for
academic bowl and marketing team competitions, serving as student mentors and
recruiters for undergraduates considering the FRED graduate program, serve as a
reader for students preparing papers for the AAEA undergraduate student paper
competition, or working with the FRE Club on professional development activities.
Community Integration Program
Objective: Introduce and integrate new students to the department.
Rationale: Graduate students, particularly master's students, arrive with limited or no
information about the department. Introduction of these students to FRED faculty early in the semester of matriculation would facilitate the departmental adjustment
process for new students. In addition, such a program should minimize
faculty/student, faculty/faculty and student/student alienation and hopefully
famidliarity will promote more productive interaction.
Means: Select a group of students who will serve as FRE Ambassadors for incoming
graduate students. These Ambassadors will introduce new students to the FRE
academic programs via direct interactions with the TEACHERS and
RESEARCHERS of FRED. Each Ambassador will be responsible for acquainting
incomidng students to three faculty.
These introductions may be to a faculty group over lunch or dinner (Reitz Union
Arredondo Room, Joe's Deli, Copper Monkey, The Swamp) during which
discussions could include student faculty research interests, home (wherever that may be), career objectives, and other light stuff. This is not meant to be pressure
cooker, but a social midxer.
Students will rotate between Ambassadors until all faculty introductions are

Ambassadors will also provide students with insights into the University and
Gainesville in general.
Social Activities
Objective: Provide students with an opportunity to meet faculty and their families outside of the
academic setting so that they will feel comfortable with them.
Rationale: Over the years the social interactions within the department have become very
limited. Trust and respect frequently build out of friendships and friendships develop
through social activities.
Means: Expand the number of family social events beyond the annual International Dinner
and Spring picnic.
Establish activities so that we become informed about other cultures and our own
Have weekly coffee exchanges where graduate students are encouraged to attend.
Keep area small and encourage interaction outside of usual contacts.
"Take a graduate student to lunch." Each week two-three faculty go to lunch with
two-three graduate students.
Hold dinners at faculty houses with small groups of graduate students and faculty.
Other activities suggested for faculty, staff and students (graduate and
undergraduate), including families: canoe trips, softball and volleyball games,
picnics, etc.

Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences McCarty Hall
Food and Resource Economics Department P0 Box 110240
Gainesville FL 32611-0240
Apri 10,1997Fax (352) 392-9898
TO: Dr. John Gordon, Chair
FROM: Elena Bastidas, Charlene Brewster, Doni Corner, John Holt, Kim Langedyk, Mike
Olexa, Trevor Woollery and Chris Andrew
SUBJECT: Report of the Ad Hoc Committee on Department's Learning Environment for Women Graduate Students
The attached report, in the form of policy and program recommendations, represents several
excellent working sessions by the committee. Besides producing a solid report, the meetings were in a positive and healing mode. We have other concerns/recommendations that do not appear in the
First, we are very concerned about the time it is taking the University to settle the recent case.
Soon we will be approaching one year since the women started to make the problem known. Not only is this a very long time for those directly involved and for the department in general, it speaks badly for building trust and confidence. The delay also furthers the risk of greater damage to the department and university. Our policy recommendation in the report emphasizes the need for speed.
Second, we believe that FRED's healing and learning process and policy should be available to
the profession as we understand that our reputation has been damaged by the recent sexual harassment situation. We propose two actions: 1) That the women graduate students, led by those who have served on this ad hoc committee and advised by Dori Coiner, prepare an article for the AAEA Committee on Women in Agricultural Economics Newsletter telling the story (as a case) of our experience in dealing with the sexual harassment situation. Of course, individuals would not be named in the article; and 2) that you provide a copy of the FRED approach/policy to leadership of the AAEA and for possible inclusion in the AAEA Newsletter. We believe that others of the profession might benefit and that these actions will send a strong signal to the profession that we are serious about cleaning up a bad situation as well as helping others to learn from our experience. Such
action might restore our image for prospective students and let all of us remain proud of FRED.
We appreciate your leadership with this challenging task.
An Equal Opportunity /Affirmative Action Employer

FLORIDA Appendix B
Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences McCarty Hall
Food and Resource Economics Department PO Box 110240
(352) 392-1826 Gainesville FL 32611-0240
Fax (352) 846-0988
March 4, 1997
TO: Chris Andrew John Holt
Elena Bastidas Kim Langedyk
Charlene Brewster Mike Olexa
Doni Comer d2? revor Woollery
FROM: John Gord V0-)
SUBJECT: Meetin f Ad Hoc Committee on Department's Learning Environment for
Women Graduate Students, March 11, 1997, at 10:00 a.m. in 1151 McCarty Hall
I would like for you to serve on an ad hoc committee to identify specific actions and/or activities that the Department could pursue to assure a safe, comfortable learning
environment for our women graduate students. You are encouraged to think broadly and
creatively about what we can do. This could include speakers, workshops, meetings between
faculty and students, ways to facilitate student questions and concerns as well as other creative
ideas you may have. Your immediate task is to generate a set of doable actions and/or activities that the Department might implement to help create a positive environment for women students.
Dr. Chris Andrew has agreed to serve as the chair of this ad hoc committee. I know that your schedules are busy, but I hope that we can meet to discuss your recommendations
and how we might implement them by the middle of April.
I hope that you will accept this assignment. Members of this committee were recommended to me by a group of graduate students. I asked for recommendations of faculty
and students who have good ideas, who work well with others and who are sincerely interested in improving the general environment in this department. If you cannot serve on this committee or if
you cannot attend the organizational meeting on March 11, please let Dr. Andrew or me know.
Thanks for your cooperation.
cc: Burl Long
Tom Spreen
An lVqpial OppOrtunity/AffirmAlive Adion Employer