STOP SEXUAL HARASSMENT AT SJSU - Fire Professor Lewis Aptekar from the SJSU faculty.

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SASH-Students Against Sexual Harassment: We call for the immediate removal of Lewis Aptekar from the SJSU faculty.


We are petitioning in regards to a recent reports regarding a San Jose State faculty member Professor Lewis Aptekar accused of sexual harassment and racial slurs by a female students (who wish to remain anonymous), details of which can be found in the following links:

A classroom should be a reprieve from sexual harassment, but some professors choose to strip a woman of her humanity by reducing her to an object—an instrument for their pleasure. Some use their position of power to rip away her dignity by eyeing her like a discounted item and asking in the middle of the lesson if she’s already taken. Some even go so far as to reduce her ethnicity to a single phrase—a stereotype disguised as a pet name: “an Arabian princess”. Such is the case of our own Professor Lewis Aptekar. For S.A.S.H., Students Against Sexual Harassment, the fact that Aptekar’s department is still seriously considering bringing him back in Spring 2018 is a call to action. This has gone too far, the university needs to dismiss Aptekar.

However, even if we are successful in our initial demand of getting Aptekar dismissed, if articles 19 and 10 of the agreement between the California Faculty Association and the C.S.U. System are not amended then Professors (like our own Lewis Aptekar), who have histories of sexually harassing students are given second chances, they just might begin sexually assaulting them too.

 According to the Mercury News article published on September 28, 2017, Aptekar has sunk to even deeper levels than once imagined. “Documents obtained by this news organization reveal that in 2015, a year after the special task force finished its work, a counselor education professor found to have sexually harassed a graduate student was accused by the same woman, who is black, of racial harassment. Professor Lewis Aptekar admitted to touching the student’s hair in class and commenting on it — conduct the campus investigator, Debra Griffith, found was ‘inappropriate’ and ‘unprofessional’ but ‘not associated to a race.’ ”

We at S.A.S.H. are primarily women of color who have been victims of this kind of racial harassment on multiple occasions. A black woman’s hair—in all its grades and textures--is her glory because sometimes it is the only part of her that remains free. On the surface, members of white society covet our volume but on a sub-conscious level, some white people recognize that while that part of us exists and flows freely—we will never be fully submissive to white supremacy. They respond by reprimanding us for wearing our hair naturally, calling it ‘unkempt’ and demanding we conform to euro-centric hairstyles. If we continue to refuse, we will be fired. Since we are like every other human being and require food to live--we are forced to sit in a chair every month and endure first-degree burns on our scalps so we can chemically straighten the curl out of our hair. Even after our hair is straightened, sometimes that is still not enough to prevent a narrow-minded white person to touch our hair in an effort to claim it—and by extension, us.

Since the campus investigator, Ms. Griffith is a woman of color, she should understand just how much Professor Aptekar running his fingers through that black woman’s hair was a clear act of bigotry. It is going to take faculty members and students—of all gender identities and races—to speak out against the university’s decision to allow Aptekar to remain employed at S.J.S.U.

In the same Mercury News article, the recently appointed S.J.S.U. President, Mary Papazian is quoted saying, “Starting now, we have to work with all faculty to surface language and behaviors of implicit bias”. We cannot agree more with President Papazian, which is why one of our demands requires faculty to attend yearly sexual harassment workshops. However, in the case of predators like Aptekar, we have two questions for our S.J.S.U. President (a college educated woman):

When you were a student, would you have remained so apathetic towards your university’s decision if you were a victim of his abuse?

If you were courageous enough to report it, only for your president to choose to reward your harasser with access to more victims, would you not question that the reason this was done was because your harasser, your male professor’s academic achievement grants him so much respect in this patriarchal society that it casts serious doubt on any scandal prompted by a mere uneducated woman?

We demand reparations for the female students who are incensed and frustrated as they continue their studies at San Jose State because the University has failed to bring justice to their cases. By the lack of discipline handed to Lewis Aptekar, the university has taken a neutral stance on professors sexually harassing their students. Join our call for San Jose State to see Aptekar for what he truly is: a liability, not an asset. Choosing to ignore this is essentially condoning and tolerating sexual assault within the San Jose State campus; As Desmond Tutu once said, “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor”. Should the administration at San Jose State University refuse to dismiss Aptekar, you can be assured we will not be silent in the face of such injustice.

SASH – Students Against Sexual Harassment
This petition will be delivered to:
President, San Jose State University
Mary Papazian
Provost and VP of Academic Affairs, San Jose State University
Andrew Feinstien





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