Anita Hill: From Social Movement to Social Impact

USC Dornsife Professor Ange-Marie Hancock Alfaro (left) with Dr. Anita Hill (right) discussing sexual assault and harassment awareness.

Early last month, Professor Anita Hill (Social Policy, Law, and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies of Brandeis University) spoke with Professor Ange-Marie Hancock Alfaro (Gender & Sexuality Studies of USC) about ways we could all engage the current systems to dismantle sexual harassment in the workplace. Covering a variety of topics, Dr. Hill described her own experience sitting in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee in 1991, and the parallels to Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s own confirmation hearings this past September.

Some questions that she believes were left unanswered were, “How do you view power? Do you view it as something that can be used as a weapon? Or do you use it as something that should be shared?”

The answers to these questions could have revealed what type of person, and more importantly, what kind of justice he would be.

Connecting these experiences to the larger public health crisis that is harassment, Dr. Ford emphasized the importance of recognizing the broader impact sexual assault could have if left unacknowledged. Not only do these experiences impact individuals for the rest of their lives, but they also impact the institution’s general wellbeing – social and economic.

Seeing Dr. Hill deeply impacted me. Although she was booked months before Kavanaugh’s hearings, her visit came at a critical time when the whole world was watching and attuned to the topic of workplace harassment. While we have come a long way in terms of research and reporting of this issue, there is more to be done.

At USC, the Joint Provost/Academic Senate Task Force on Sexual Harassment is working hard to implement policies that could address it. Recommendations should be released in the next month, so keep an eye out and provide input!! This is something we all need to work towards together!

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