But higher education's intolerance toward sexual harassment only extends to students--not college administrators. When administrators misbehave, universities frequently try to cover up the scandal; and often the offender is asked to do no more than step down from an administrative post and return to the faculty.
And this brings me to the story of Sujit Choudhry, who stepped down as Dean of UC Berkeley Law School after he was sued for sexual harassment by a female subordinate, Tyann Sorrell. The University investigated Sorrell's complaint before she filed her lawsuit and concluded that Choudhry had indeed been guilty of sexual misconduct.
But the University just gave Choudhry a slap on the wrist. He received a 10 percent pay cut for one year--reducing his half-million dollar salary by about $50,000. Meanwhile, Sorrell, the victim in the case, was put on paid leave.
This sorry episode came to public light when Sorrell sued, arguing that the penalty against Choudhry was too light. Choudry stepped down and is now a tenured law professor at Berkeley, making a paltry $284,000 a year.
This is how the modern American university works these days. College administrators howl like Puritans at the Salem witch trials when a student behaves too aggressively toward a date at a frat party. But when an insider gets caught with his hands in the wrong places, he gets treated with kid gloves.
But let's ask this question. How did Sujit Choudhry become Dean of a prestigious law school in the first place? He is a Canadian (born in India) who doesn't even have an American law degree, although he did acquire a master's degree in law (a nine-month program) from Harvard Law School.
Choudhry is described as a renowned expert in comparative international law, and he does have a modest record of publishing law review articles. His article entitled "Method In Comparative Constitutional Law: A Comment On Law and Versteeg," published in the New York University Law Review, is a page-turner. And I'm sure you've read his groundbreaking essay entitled "Living Originalism in India," which was published in the Yale Journal of Law and Humanities. It's been on Best Seller lists for months.
But should an American law school pay this guy a half million dollars a year to be a dean or even a quarter million dollars a year to be a professor? And when the university concluded that he harassed a female subordinate, shouldn't he have been fired?
Among those who borrow to pay for their studies, Berkeley law students now graduate with more than $140,000 in student-loan debt. Berkeley law students now know where their money is going--to guys like Sujit Choudhry.
Nanette Aimov. UC Berkely law dean Choudhry resigns amid harassment scandal. San Francisco Chronicle, March 20, 2016. Accessible at http://www.sfgate.com/education/article/UC-Berkeley-law-dean-resigns-amid-harassment-6882570.php
Sujit Choudhry. Method In Comparative Constitutional Law: A Comment On Law and Versteeg. 87 New York University Law Review 2078 (2012). Accessible at http://www.nyulawreview.org/issues/volume-87-number-6/method-comparative-constitutional-law-comment-law-and-versteeg