San Angelo Woman Describes Harassment in Higher Ed
SAN ANGELO, TX — This is part two of a two-part series on sexual harassment in San Angelo. Here is Part I.
This story was told to us by a woman remembering an earlier time, the 1970s, when she was a graduate student. We withheld her name, and his too.
I had just finished college with a degree in psychology, and my plan was to continue on to grad school to get a master’s degree as a licensed counselor. There was only one college in my home town that offered a master’s degree in my major, so I applied and was accepted into the program.
I was as engaged and active in class as I had always been. As an undergraduate, I got more A’s than B’s, and never anything below a B.
I enjoyed the course and made good grades on quizzes and the mid-term, so I was shocked to see a C as my final grade.
Back in those days, the mid-70s, grades were publicly posted using the student number. You knew your grade before you ever saw your actual paper.
Right away, I made an appointment with the instructor, who, by the way, was the dean of the department. It was an evening appointment, which wasn’t unusual since the grad courses were mostly taught at night.
I had really never challenged an authority figure before, and in spite of the fact that I was paying the college for my education, I was still beholding to the dean for a grade.
I was pretty confident, though, when I went to his office, and I started out with a review of my performance over the semester. And then, looking over my final paper, I could point to errors where the answer was correct but had been marked wrong.
At that point, I just waited for his response. He just looked at me for a while and finally said he thought I probably did deserve a better grade after all.
We sat there face-to-face, saying nothing. I was waiting to hear when the grade would be changed. He wasn’t behind his desk, and then he put his hand on my knee and asked me for a date. “We could settle all this over dinner and a little visiting.
This may sound like I was a rube, but I had no idea what he was talking about. My focus was entirely on my grade. Not only was I not prepared for it, but it never crossed my mind.
And it still wasn’t clear to me what he meant until he said, “if not dinner, we could just visit in the back for a while,” pointing to a back room.
Finally, it got through to my brain and I stood up and just left. By that point I was scared to be alone with him.
No, I didn’t tell anyone. Who would believe me? He was the dean. It would have made me look like just a student who was angry about my grade and trying to get the dean in trouble.
“After that, I couldn’t continue in the program anymore. He was the dean. He was going to be a part of my education from then on.”
“So, I switched to another field of study, and that turned out to be a good thing. But, I was on edge for a long time, knowing that these things happened.”
“It never happened again, but after 40 years, I’ve never forgotten about it.”
“I think all the outcry you’re hearing lately is from women who never forgot about it either.”