The surreality of this debate -- its oddity -- became more odd when a WLU investigation could find no complaint against the TA involved. That's right. It appears that the complaint that supposedly underscored -- and, in fact, supposedly triggered -- the hearing in which the TA was reprimanded never existed, even as a less-formal expression of concern (say, an inquiry or even a "gee ... that made me ...."). This, of course, begs a whole bunch of questions to which we will likely never have answers because it appears WLU does not want to release the report to the public and does not want to make its internal disciplinary procedures matters of public debate. (I kind of agree with this because of the heightened tensions that now surround this issue). We are left to wonder: did the faculty make up this complaint? Was it something that they, say, overheard and magnified? In other words, was there ever a shred of truth to the supposed complaint or was it constructed out of whole cloth? Were all members of the tribunal involved in a deception or only, say, one with the other two taking that person at their word? To whom are complaints supposed to be made and why were red flags not raised when a complaint -- on which disciplinary action was being taken -- was not in some way officially registered? In other words, why did it take an investigation to discover that there was no complaint? Who is supposed to check these things and why didn't they? If only one member of the tribunal claimed to have a complaint, and the others accepted that person at their word, why did they not ask to see the complaint before they began disciplinary proceedings and certainly before they made a decision to reprimand the TA?
The other day, I was chatting with a friend about this matter -- before I had read this news -- and we agreed (and this has been the point of my other blogs on this subject) that there was more than enough blame to go around and that just about everyone who had commented one this issue was wrong in one way or another. That might have been an overstatement. If, there never was a complaint, if no LGBTQ person found what was going on in the tutorial to be of sufficient concern to complain ... then ... it is not clear that there was a substantive issue in the first place. In my previous blogs on this subject, I assumed, as a thought exercise, that the TA was guilty. That thought exercise was designed to serve a certain point. It was designed to show how problems such as this could have been avoided *if* greater attention were paid to establishing proper procedures to address complaints and impose discipline. I assumed that there was a complaint and that that complaint reflected a real sense of marginalization coming out of the classroom. It appears that that assumption was wrong. That thought, however, exercise is still valid. In fact, I'd contend that it is even more valid as a result of this revelation.
Why? Because proper procedures would have show up the fact that there was no complaint. If you look over the list of procedures that I tried to argue were reasonable (and, by extension, tried to argue that the vast majority of people will find reasonable), you will see that I contended that someone accused of misconduct had a right to know:
- The number of complaints against them
- The specific rules that they violated
- And the complaint itself.