The Hebrew University.
(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
A letter presented to Prof. Menahem Ben-Sasson, president of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, outlined the testimony of dozens of Hebrew University students with allegations of sexual offenses committed by faculty members.
The letter was sent on Sunday by the organization One of One, an Israeli-based virtual platform for victims of sexual offenses to speak out about their personal stories. Released to Channel 10 news, the letter stated: “We know of five lecturers that sexually assaulted students, including cases of rape.”
The letter went on to allege that six lecturers are also known to One of One as serial sexual harassers, and some of the assaults took place on campus.
The organization demanded that the university call an immediate meeting with the Board of Governors to change the way sexual offenses are dealt with by the university.
These allegations come only a month after political science Prof. Mario Schneider was dismissed from the university following sexual harassment charges.
The spokesman’s office at the university responded to the letter. “The complaints referred to in the letter were not brought to the attention of the university; nor did the university receive any inquiries or complaints on the matter.
The university contacted One of One with a request to provide the information in its possession, in order to be able to investigate the issue. Thus far there has been no reply. At the same time, the university has filed a complaint to the police requesting that they investigate the matter.
According to a student survey conducted in 2014 by the National Union of Israeli Students that questioned over 12,000 male and female students, over half of Israeli students were not aware of the procedures in place to prevent and deal with sexual harassment at their institution of learning. Eighty-three percent of students were not aware that there is an official in charge of dealing with sexual harassment at their institution.
The survey also showed that one of every 10 female students has experienced sexual harassment, but 85% of students (male and female) who experience sexual harassment do not report it. Women in academia are reportedly sexually harassed five times more than men.
Finally, the survey reported that of the 15% who do report being sexually harassed, 38% stated that their complaint was dealt with properly, while 41% claimed that their complaint was not dealt with properly, saying that it was covered up or not dealt with at all, or that it led to maltreatment.
Gilad Arditi, chairman of the National Union of Israeli Students, responded to the recent allegations against the lecturers at the university, stating that “the union will not tolerate sexual harassment on campus. Five years ago it was made to appear that there was no sexual harassment in academia.
Thanks to our strenuous activity together with relief organizations, we have brought the enactment of regulations that force institutions to treat and stop hiding harassment taking place on their property. We stand alongside the injured students: There are 300,000 students behind you – you are not alone.”
With timing as a relevant factor, the union announced on Monday that it has officially changed its Hebrew name to include both the male and female versions of the word “student.”
The union stated that the change comes from a belief that language has power, and allowing women to be invisible in language should not be tolerated.