ASU philosophy professor tackles sexual harassment on behalf of her discipline

June 19, 2015

Cheshire Calhoun has heard the stories.

Her area of study – philosophy, in which she has had her doctorate for more than 30 years – has recently been the subject of stories about sexual harassment by male academics targeting female students and subordinates. It appears to be happening all across the country. There have even been entire blogs dedicated to what it’s like to be a female philosopher at the nation’s universities.   portrait of ASU philosophy professor Cheshire Calhoun ASU philosophy professor Cheshire Calhoun is also the chair of the American Philosophical Association. In that role she was integral in writing an open letter to victims of sexual harassment in philosophy departments around the country. Download Full Image

But Calhoun, a professor in the School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies at ASU, is in a position to do something to fix the problem. In addition to her post in Tempe, Calhoun is the chair of the board of officers of the American Philosophical Association (APA). The organization, a professional group for philosophy academics, sent an open letter to its community June 16 to address the problem.

Calhoun discussed the problem with ASU News, and what she and her team hope to achieve.

Question: Why do you think philosophy departments have this problem? Is there something about philosophy, or is this happening in other disciplines?

Answer: There is no comparative study that I know of of the relative incidence of sexual harassment in philosophy versus other disciplines. As a discipline, however, philosophy has had persistently low numbers of women – around 21 to 25 percent. While the low number of women in philosophy is likely to be mostly due to the fact that undergraduate women do not choose to major in philosophy – about 33 percent do, although they take intro philosophy courses about the same rate that male students do – the fact of gender balance in the profession may contribute to the incidence of sexual harassment. The perception that philosophy has a distinctive problem with sexual harassment is largely a result of a number of high-profile cases that have been in the news recently and discussed on blogs.

Q: What do you hope will be the outcome of the letter the APA published?

A: My first hope is that victims of sexual harassment will feel that their professional association takes seriously the long-term impact that sexual harassment has on their lives and their capacity to participate in the profession. My second hope is that members of the profession will, if they are positioned to do so, offer support to victims of sexual harassment, and that everyone will become more aware of the importance of being informed about what kinds of behaviors count as sexual harassment and what bystanders may and should do. I also hope that departments will implement some of the best practices recommended by the APA task force on sexual harassment.

It is too early to guess what the impact will be. I do know that some victims have been deeply appreciative of the open letter and others have felt that the APA should take a stronger stance, instituting sanctioning measures of its own.

Q: Critics say you aren’t going far enough to address this problem. What are the limitations of the APA getting involved?

A: All professional societies face limitations on what they can do in response to sexual harassment. Professional societies do not have the fact-finding capabilities to investigate allegations of sexual harassment or to confirm the factual basis of sexual-harassment determinations at academic institutions. So we are all in the same boat. The APA has taken a number of important steps. We have had a statement on sexual harassment since 1993 that was revised in 2013. We have an excellent best-practices statement.

The APA Committee on the Status of Women offers to departments a site-visit program that is aimed at helping departments to assess and determine ways of improving the climate for women. It is modeled on the site-visit program that the natural sciences have. The APA also has an ombudsperson for nondiscrimination (I served a three-year term as the APA ombudsperson before becoming board chair). Some victims of sexual harassment have communicated their situations and concerns to the ombudsperson, who is available to provide advice to victims of sexual harassment. So the open letter is simply the most recent of a series of APA efforts.

Q: How will you measure the success of your efforts?

A: We have been closely watching blog discussions and have received some personal correspondence in response to the letter. One measure of success would be an increased number of departments availing themselves of the APA Committee on the Status of Women's site-visit program.

Q: What do universities as a whole need to be doing to bring the problem of sexual harassment under control?

A: My impression is that there is considerable variation across institutions in the sexual-harassment training, including bystander training, that is offered to faculty. It would be useful to include all graduate students, and not just faculty, in that training.

Academic departments can take the measures recommended in our best-practices report. Those include publicizing links to university policies and grievance procedures and to the Title IX officer on department websites; inviting a site visit if their discipline offers that opportunity; hold bystander training for the department; scheduling discussion of sexual harassment as part of new faculty orientation and graduate student orientation; and increasing awareness about factors that contribute to an unwelcoming climate for women and other vulnerable groups.

Preliminary plan for ASU Athletic Facilities District in development

June 19, 2015

Arizona State University and Catellus Development Corporation, a nationally recognized master developer, are taking an important step toward creating a world-class urban community immediately adjacent to ASU’s Tempe campus. 

Following several months of due diligence and market analysis, Catellus worked in collaboration with ASU to develop a preliminary master development plan to transform the 330-acre Athletic Facilities District at the northeast end of the Tempe campus. The plan includes new and renovated NCAA athletic facilities with more than seven million square feet of office, multifamily residential, hospitality and retail space, interconnected with vibrant sidewalks, bicycle paths and urban open spaces. Facilities District Preliminary Master Plan Catellus Development Corporation has worked in collaboration with Arizona State Univesity to develop a preliminary master development plan to transform the 330-acre Athletic Facilities District at the northeast end of the Tempe campus. Download Full Image

The careful study and planning invested in the project reflect ASU’s dedication, written in the university’s charter, to take responsibility for bettering the broader community. In pursuit of that mission, ASU and Catellus are inviting the public to view the plan and offer comment at an open house next week.

“This is a highly visible and prominent development that demands thoughtful planning and execution,” said Greg Weaver, executive vice president of Catellus Development Corporation. “We will collaborate with ASU and many other future partners to transform the district in a manner that maximizes financial returns for the University, while simultaneously creating a world-class, sustainable, urban neighborhood for the greater community.”

The facilities district will generate revenue to help fund the renovation and reinvention of Sun Devil Stadium and other University athletic facilities, without the use of tax dollars, through payments made by new private real estate development projects on university-owned land. ASU has partnered with Catellus to oversee the development, marketing, leasing and management of the district.

“This is an important step in what will be a well planned process over many years to develop property adjacent to ASU in a way that serves the community and the University,” said Morgan R. Olsen, executive vice president, treasurer and chief financial officer for Arizona State University. “ASU is committed to being a positive force in the communities we serve and, working with Catellus and our other partners on this project, we will set high standards and are confident that it will attract quality development.”

Activity is already underway in the district at Sun Devil Stadium. That project is being phased to permit the venue to remain open during renovations. Work on the first phase has started, with all three phases scheduled to be complete prior to the 2017 football season. The district’s preliminary land use plan reflects a phased approach to private development over the next 20 years. An initial phase that may include office, multifamily and retail development is expected to be underway as soon as 2016. 

“The district and its capacity to generate revenue for the university and Sun Devil Athletics typifies the progressive thinking for which Arizona State has become known,” said Ray Anderson, vice president and athletic director at ASU. “The development of the district will create a sustainable revenue stream necessary to support and invest in championship-caliber facilities for our 23-plus athletics programs and will benefit our 550-plus student-athletes.”

The preliminary master plan will be available for review during a public open house to be held from 6 to 7:30 pm., June 23. Representatives from ASU and Catellus will be on site to answer questions and review district plans with attendees during the open house. The open house will be held at Gallery 100, located at the Tempe Center, 951 South Mill Avenue, Suite 199. Attendees will also be able to provide comments for the project team to consider as the master plan continues to evolve.

“We are excited to share our first draft of the master plan for the district,” said Brian Kearney, senior development manager with Catellus Development Corporation. “Feedback from the open house and other meetings with stakeholders will continue to evolve our thinking as we strive to develop a community that will offer unforgettable life experiences.”

The district is located at the north end of the Tempe campus. It encompasses most university-owned property generally bounded by Sun Devil Stadium, Veterans’ Way, University Drive, McClintock Road and Tempe Town Lake.

Until a permanent name is selected during the next phase of planning and development, the area will be referred to as the ASU Athletic Facilities District, or simply the district.

Questions about the open house and more information about the project will be available online at

Lisa Robbins

editor/publisher, Media Relations and Strategic Communications