Last Friday on October 25th, 2019 Popular Women’s Movement – Movimiento Femenino Popular joined women students in a sit-in against The University of Texas’ administration for their apathetic response to multiple professors who have violated UT’s sexual misconduct code. These professors have received little or no recourse at all. Professor Coleman Hutchison has multiple allegations of overtly and covertly pursuing young women students. Some students expressed their beliefs that Hutchison makes decisions on who to advance academically based on the reciprocity of his sexual advances. He even drove one of his students to leave academia altogether to get away from him. The university found him guilty of inappropriate flirting and an unreported relationship. Two town hall meetings were called due to his behavior, but of course, nothing else has been done since. Another professor who was a particular focus of the demonstration was Sahorta Sarkar. He was a professor in the Philosophy and Integrative Biology department and was placed on administrative leave after being found responsible for asking students to pose for nude photos. He was then suspended for a semester in 2016 before, alas, returning to teach again in 2017!
As students piled into the main building, Title IX (a committee that decides the fate of these men at the university) coordinator Adriana Alicea-Rodriguez attempted to reason with the crowd and quell their anger by explaining that she would be “looking into” the two aforementioned professors. It appeared she was clueless that both professors had a documented history of sexually preying on students and in one case, Hutchison marrying one.
Many of the women were clearly fed up with UT’s hand-wringing and their constant lending of legitimacy and power to men who use their classrooms as their personal hunting grounds. While some women stayed seated, others took to pounding on the provost’s office door and disturbing the general campus etiquette of smug “respectability.” The police were sure to station themselves inside and outside of the university – in what turned out to be a coordinated effort between the event organizers and the administration for police presence. It must be said that while we understand the varying different levels of political consciousness among the women there, cops are always going to take the side of the bourgeoisie and their institutions– especially in this instance where APD is dealing with a growing campaign against hiring creeps and domestic abusers. And to coordinate such an effort is the equivalent of inviting your enemies’ goon squad to a fistfight.
UT offers classes on “women’s and gender studies,” where professors regurgitate postmodernist identity politics and reject objective contradictions of class society and instead attribute them to interpersonal quibbles. This elusive and divisive ideology serves to ignore real institutions of power and exploitation for individual interpretations of facts and personal narratives — a moral shield for universities. UT makes it very clear where it stands in response to actual women demanding action against these irreparable men. Their tactics have not changed a bit since the late former University Professor Richard Morrsiett committed suicide in 2018. Morrisett of the UT College of Pharmacy became the target of a campaign against domestic violence by the then Revolutionary Student Front (RSF) after it had been revealed that he pushed and strangled his then-girlfriend unconscious. It is thanks to the relentless campaign of RSF that no woman will ever feel Morrisett’s hands around their necks, because he committed suicide before UT was set to decide whether he would be allowed to keep his position or not. He never lived to hear that the university had in fact decided that he could keep his job.
We need to go beyond sit-ins, and STAND UP AND REBEL! The administration should be shaken to their core every time they ignore the disgusting behavior of their professors.
PWM – MFP is currently waging a campaign against APD and the city which continues to give money and guns to cops who are sexual and physical abusers. We know these are not isolated cases and that misogyny runs rampant under capitalism. UT, APD and the City of Austin’s administration – these all serve the capitalist system, which will continue to oppress the working class and protect abusers. Women must unite to fight these institutions that encourage and abed dangerous sexists!
To become apart of this growing movement!