Opinion, Staff Editorial

Learn from latest #MeToo moment

In 2013, then-CBS CEO Leslie Moonves spoke to students at the School of Communication about fighting bias, plotting the future of journalism and treating others with respect.

Five years later, he has left the network—following allegations of sexual misconduct by 12 women, as reported by The New Yorker.

Moonves’ words to student media now ring with grim irony. He told students to “remember that how you treat people is very, very important,” and even praised a colleague, Jeff Fager, who, this month, was himself ousted for threatening a co-worker covering his own set of allegations.

It’s disheartening to hear yet another alleged instance (or here, instances) of sexual abuse by a person in power—especially considering the influence Moonves held, both at CBS and, potentially, to the students he spoke to, here at the University of Miami and beyond.

And unfortunately, the field of journalism seems especially susceptible to abuses of power—even though (or perhaps because) its very function is to expose those abuses. Fager’s threatening text, in which he reminded a reporter that “there are people who lost their jobs trying to harm me” as she covered his case, is proof of this. How do we grapple with it?

At the very least, we can learn. If we ever want to create a culture in which victims don’t feel pressured to wait years to come forward with their stories, we need to learn that abuse can take many forms and that all are contemptible. In one statement, the ex-CEO admitted that “he tried to kiss the doctor” in whose office he was a patient, while still seeming to shrug off the gravity of the situation by saying “nothing more happened.”

But nothing more needs to happen for an unwanted kiss to be unwanted and, thus, reprehensible. What’s more, what a person of power like Moonves might see as “just” an advance cannot be removed from the power, authority and intimidation that such a person inherently wields.

It is imperative that we recognize this sort of influence among employers and peers—so that we can confront a hostile culture when we see it and, accordingly, work against it.

One such way to do this is to address the issue of sexual misconduct (or its potential to happen) on an institutional level; merely hoping that everyone understands consent, boundaries and abusive behavior is not enough. The President’s Coalition on Sexual Violence Prevention, as described in an email from President Frenk Sept. 24, is an example of the sort of top-down approach needed to combat a culture of disrespect, not just the one or two “bad apples” we seem to so often hear about.

According to the email, “all faculty members, supervisory staff, and employees in areas where there is frequent interaction with students” will take compulsory online training on sexual misconduct and reporting.

It is a start, and a welcome one. Any system that aims to teach about these issues on a wide scale is worth commending. Making it required “homework” sends a message of universal responsibility as if to say the issue of sexual misconduct (at work or at school) really is on all of us.

But even so, we can’t stop there. While formal education is absolutely necessary, empathy and understanding are powerful tools that last long beyond any lesson plan—and we ought to use them, at work, school and beyond.

Editorials represent the majority view of The Miami Hurricane editorial board.

September 26, 2018


Editorial Board

Around the Web
  • Error
  • UM News
  • HurricaneSports

RSS Error: WP HTTP Error: fsocket timed out

Seniors Emily Gossett, Millie Chokshi, and Jason Kaplan are eager to implement their platform throug ...

Follow the sights and sounds of the pregame festivities in Orlando leading up to Saturday’s big game ...

A team of researchers created the first mapping model of its kind to track how hate spreads and adap ...

University of Miami professors who study water treatment and civil engineering say that water contam ...

University of Miami experts in health geography, law, and public health weigh in on some of the issu ...

Head coach Manny Diaz and The New Miami will make their debut against an old rival, facing No. 8 Flo ...

Senior linebackers Shaquille Quarterman, Michael Pinckney and Zach McCloud have already made history ...

Check out the latest issue of Hurricane Magazine, featuring stories on Canes football, basketball, s ...

UM women's soccer opened its 2019 campaign by blowing past UTRGV, 4-0. ...

The Hurricanes kick off their 2019 soccer campaign Thursday night against UTRGV. ...

TMH Twitter
About TMH

The Miami Hurricane is the student newspaper of the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Fla. The newspaper is edited and produced by undergraduate students at UM and is published weekly in print on Tuesdays during the regular academic year.