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"Lesbian Caucus" Fails to Stand Behind Fired (Black) Lesbian

caucus chair stifles discussion about discrimination

Forum: NWSA Lesbian Caucus list
Date: 09/29/2003

Themorgangirl wrote:

On September 23, 2003, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) found in Pat Washington's favor and recommended tenure and promotion to associate professor, back pay, benefits, etc. [...] At this time, we do not know the full implications of EEOC's determination--other than its being a major step forward on our road to justice. Much rests on whether SDSU prefers to do the right thing and conciliate or waste tax dollars and litigate. [...]

On 9/29/03 3:32 PM, "Eileen Bresnahan" wrote:

Please be aware that the attached message was posted to the Lesbian Caucus list by Pat Washington herself (at least, she is the possessor of the email address from which it originated), and did not come from me as chair of the caucus. The caucus has taken NO POSITION on this matter and it is not the caucus that urging you to write to anyone. Please be sure, before you take sides in this complex matter, that involves one of the oldest the most prominent Women's Studies departments/programs in the country, that you have all the facts from BOTH sides of the controversy. Sometimes things are not as interested parties try to make them seem.


It is obvious that the post did not come from the Caucus itself, just like all the other stuff that have been posted here. Why did you feel that it was necessary to send out this clarification about this particular post and not any other posts? Would you send out such a notice if the discrimination complaint in question was against another academic department (say, school of business)?

Also, has the Lesbian Caucus considered taking a position? Has the caucus discussed this matter? This case is over whether or not an "out" Black lesbian faculty has been unfairly treated by the Women's Studies department, so the Lesbian Caucus should certainly have some interest in this issue. Where do you stand personally, and what information is that based on? Where can I find "all the facts from BOTH sides" that you speak of?

Emi K.

-- * Putting the Emi back in Feminism since 1975.

Date: 09/29/2003

No, the matter of Pat Washington's disappointment over her tenure case has never come before the caucus in any context of which I am aware. I do not believe it is the place of the caucus to take sides on issues such as this one, which are "inside" women's studies and involve lesbians and NWSA members on both sides of the controversy. [...] Where I stand personally on the issue of Pat Washington's tenure case is, frankly, none of your business. My position as Lesbian Caucus chair is as outlined above, as well as in my post that spurred your inquiries, i.e. that I urge fairness of our members and that the caucus itself should take no position on issues such as this.


Thanks for the quick reply and for answering some of my questions, although I noticed that you didn't quite respond an important question. Where exactly are you suggesting that we could find "all the facts from BOTH sides" that you speak of?

While it is perfectly fair to suggest that we need to look at all available information before jumping to the conclusion, I feel that it would be irresponsible for the chair of the Caucus to urge Caucus members to "look at all facts" and then fail to provide a pointer to such "facts." Doing so would only function to discourage members from taking any actions whatsoever, and to permit any alleged discriminator to stifle criticism by simply not disclosing all the information because, according to you, one shouldn't jump to the conclusion unless s/he knows all the "facts."

What matters to me is that I have respect for Dr. Washington's scholarship and leadership within NWSA, and also that Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) made a recommendation in her favour. In the absense of any strong evidence to the contrary, that is the enough reason for me to urge the California State University system to reinstate her. That said, for the sake of fairness I am willing to and interested in considering the other "side" of the controversy. Please let me know where I can learn about the facts from the other "side" so that I can make a more informed judgment about the case.

Also, I'd like to say that I am disappointed to hear that this case has not received any attention from the Lesbian Caucus (I was unable to attend this year's NWSA conference), as it seems to be an issue that should concern lesbians, espeically lesbians of colour, who are part of the caucus.

Emi Koyama