Rutgers students protest Ludlow’s candidacy for professorship

Ciara McCarthy, Managing Editor

Students at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, are organizing to protest the hiring of Northwestern philosophy Prof. Peter Ludlow, a candidate for a position at the school.

The campus group Women Organizing Against Harassment is spearheading efforts to protest Ludlow’s candidacy and change the University’s hiring process for new faculty.

In February, a Medill junior filed a Title IX lawsuit against NU, alleging that Ludlow bought her alcohol and sexually assaulted her in 2012. Nearly two months since the suit was filed, Ludlow’s future is still uncertain. NU administrators canceled his Spring Quarter philosophy class after students protested Ludlow’s continued employment at NU.

(Updated: Ludlow’s Spring Quarter class canceled)

Now, students at Rutgers are protesting Ludlow’s potential employment, led by WOAH and supported by activists on NU’s campus. On Monday, the group organized a “phone jam” of Rutgers President Robert Barchi’s office. Members of WOAH and their supporters called Barchi’s office to request all potential faculty hires be vetted for sexual misconduct, said the group’s president and founder Sarah Beth Kaye. 

A Rutgers spokesman declined Tuesday to comment on the planned phone jam.

“We have nothing to say about it and we have nothing to add to what we’ve already said about the candidacy of Professor Ludlow,” he said.

In February, Rutgers confirmed Ludlow was being considered for a job, but denied he had already been offered a position or Ludlow had accepted it.

“This was not brought to our attention by either the candidate or his employer. We are looking into this matter thoroughly, including requesting all relevant information to fully evaluate his candidacy,” Rutgers spokesman Greg Trevor said at the time.

A petition created by concerned faculty requested NU “make a commitment that professor who have been determined (by campus or legal processes) to have committed sexual harassment, violence or abuse shall not be ‘passed on’ to other Universities.”

(Professors petition Board of Trustees in response to Title IX lawsuit

NU’s Title IX Coordinating Committee wrote in response to the petition that it is current practice to include “positive findings from investigations” in a respondent’s personnel file.

(Title IX Coordinating Committee response to online petition and ASG resolution)

Ludlow was reportedly offered a job in November as the director of the Rutgers Center for Cognitive Science, according to Leiter Reports, a philosophy blog published by University of Chicago Prof. Brian Leiter. Ludlow himself indicated that he would assume the position in a public Facebook post. He wrote in November, “I read this on Leiter, so it must be true” and linked to Leiter’s blog post.

The phone jam is the most recent in a series of efforts by WOAH to bring attention to the group’s primary demand, which is to alter Rutgers’ hiring process so that potential faculty are vetted for sexual misconduct “on both a university and judicial level,” Kaye said. School administrators have been largely unreceptive to WOAH’s requests, she said.

“We expressed concerns and they were swept aside,” Kaye said.

During a meeting, Rutgers Chief of Staff Gregory Jackson told representatives from WOAH they should focus on “bigger” issues than changing the University’s hiring process for new faculty, Kaye said. WOAH is requesting a meeting with Barchi to discuss its concerns further.

Weinberg junior Jazz Stephens, who has helped to organize student efforts to demand greater transparency in sexual misconduct cases, has been in contact with WOAH to discuss the campuses’ respective efforts. She said NU activists want to continue to network with campuses across the country fighting for similar causes.

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