Universidad Central suspends 14 academics over sexual harassment accusations

SANTIAGO – Universidad Central suspended 14 academics after receiving denouncements regarding sexual harassment. They will be relieved of their duty until the investigation is over. It’s a new episode in Chile’s #MeToo moment, which seems to hit universities and institutes across the country.

Universidad Central has suspended 14 academics for 30 days until the university’s ethics committee finishes its investigation. One of the academics is Rodrigo España, director of the Law School, who, feminists allege, has mishandled complaints about sexual harassment.

The feminist organization Assembly of Women and No-heterosexual Identities put forward the accusations. Director of the university’s corporate communications Sergio Escobar explained that during a meeting female students formally accused the functionaries of sexual harassment, and “in order to have a correct process, all those academics were relieved of their duties, and the ethics committee has to investigate the denouncements, and see whether they have evidence or not,” said Escobar.

During the last months, feminists have been drawing more attention in response to highly visible protests. Universidad Central is not the only institution involved in sexual harassment scandals and protests. Other universities like Universidad Católica, Universidad Austral and Universidad de Chile have been taken over by students. Feminists fight to end sexual harassment and a machismo culture in educational establishments.

The feminist wave

For some experts, the recent feminist protests are a wake-up call for Chilean society. Carmen Andrade, director of Gender Equality at Universidad de Chile, said that the feminist movement formed in response to rampant gender violence and sexual abuse within universities. Andrade stated that the protests are meant to say “STOP” to the country’s macho culture. She added that even though Chile has a women’s ministry and quota laws, macho behavior runs deep through society.

In addition, former professor of Gender Studies Luna Follegati remarked that gender violence has always existed in educational institutions. But Chile is passing through an explosion of feminist claims to cultural change. “A no-sexist education is [what] the feminist students [are demanding], that is a new way to think and to interact inside educational institutions,” she said according to Universidad de Chile’s news website.

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