State Law to End “Pass the Harasser” on College Campuses

State Law to End “Pass the Harasser” on College Campuses

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Why this petition matters

Started by Nicholas Dee

College professors with backgrounds of sexual harassment are flying under the radar and are granted jobs at universities. This is due to previous universities being unable to publicly share information regarding the professor’s history of sexual harassment. The action of “passing the harasser” is an issue that can be easily prevented, however it is not. It allows for the safety of millions of students to be threatened across numerous colleges and universities. This issue of “passing the harasser” matters because it could occur at any college or university including your own. Some or most of the victims of these circumstances have their lives ruined because of it. A solution to this problem is to pass a country-wide law that calls for colleges and universities to disclose any sexual misconduct or harassment findings with other institutions during the hiring process of former professors. To start, the primary motive of this petition is to get the state of Massachusetts to pass a law to end “pass the harasser”. 

The action of "passing the harasser" refers to when professors seamlessly transition to a new institution without their past sexual misconduct following them into their roles. ( Ending “Pass the Harasser” in Higher Education ) This issue is mainly caused due to the fact that "In Title IX cases involving faculty members accused of harassment, universities often claim personnel privacy laws forbid them from sharing findings with other universities who may be looking to hire the faculty member in the future." ( A Professor Was Accused of Sexual Harassment and Resigned. At His Next University, It Happened Again ) There are too many examples of this happening throughout the United States among various colleges from the University of New Hampshire to Texas A&M University. Included are the links to two articles on separate incidents of "passing the harasser," one including Dr. Dan Howard at the University of New Hampshire and another including Nenad Kostic at Texas A&M University. Both of these stories of students having their lives ruined by these professors could have been easily prevented if these professors' previous colleges and universities would have shared their findings and history of sexual harassment with the current universities and colleges.

On Monday, March 9, 2020, Washington state legislature passed the first state law in the nation to end “pass the harasser” among Washington’s colleges and universities. The link to this article can be found here with more information on this bill. Representative Gerry Pollet, who sponsored this bill and also teaches at the University of Washington said, "Students deserve protection from faculty, coaches or administrators who are serial sexual harassers or predators. A school should know if someone they are hiring has a history of sexual harassment or assault. It’s time to end pass-the-harasser and protect our students.” ( Legislature passes first in the nation ban on “pass the harasser” on college campuses ) I believe that this could be the solution for many states and eventually the whole United States as a whole. This is why my petition is a call to action for Massachusetts legislature to follow the actions of Washington legislature and pass a law that:

  1. Requires that colleges and universities include any substantiated findings of sexual misconduct in an employee’s personnel file and disclose those findings when asked by another institution.
  2. Ends the common practice of an employee accused of sexual misconduct ending the investigation by leaving their job.
  3. Requires that colleges and universities must complete all sexual misconduct investigations and cannot use non-disclosure agreements that keep such investigations hidden.

I am fighting for this law to be passed in more states including my own because I am aware that this issue of "passing the harasser" can occur or is currently occurring at any college or university, including my own. I know a large amount of close friends that attend the University of New Hampshire and realized that it could have been one of them who were the victims of Dr. Dan Howard's actions. This issue is not going to stop unless legal action is taken and a law is passed regarding the main points I have listed above. "Passing the harasser" is a problem, and taking this first step of passing this law is crucial in the protection of college students throughout the United States.

53 have signed. Let’s get to 100!