I’m writing today in my role as the Director of the Pulliam Center for Contemporary Media and as a faculty member who teaches about how forms of media are connected to larger systems of political and social life. I want to address the podcast that was recorded for a brief time in the PCCM, but really I want to talk about where I hope we can go from here. I think most of us can agree that the way the young men on the podcast were thinking and talking about women is ugly and demeaning, but it doesn’t come from nowhere. It comes from deeply ingrained discourses of conquest and exceptionalism and privilege that have animated our national histories and continue to dominate our cultural output as well as (clearly) our day-to-day existence. This doesn’t remove individual responsibility for actions. On the contrary, it demands we take responsible action.
And so what are we to do?
To begin, once I received complaints about the podcast, I (and others) responded immediately. We are following the protocols in place to address specific incidents.
But that is not enough.
I am also putting together a group of faculty, staff, administrators, and students to work over the summer to devise a clear “user agreement” for the podcast studio and to revise the agreements that govern, to one degree or another, other public work spaces in the PCCM (the photo studios, the video editing suites, and the television studio). These documents will lay out clear policies for what constitutes acceptable use of the facilities, though they will necessarily have to balance institutional values with the right to free expression. I imagine these kinds of agreements will extend to other public work spaces on campus.
But that is not enough.
I am also beginning discussions with colleagues on the faculty and administration to see if we can devise ways to use this moment to keep building on the work we’ve been doing with regard to “power, privilege, and diversity.” We have begun to try and change the culture here at DePauw so that all of our students feel safe from the dangers of sexual harassment and assault, racism, homophobia, gender discrimination, and every other kind of ignorance that works to divide us. We now know that we still have a very, very long way to go. But as my colleague Doug Harms suggested, maybe, just maybe, something good can come of all this.
And it may never be enough.
Above all else, I want to move forward from here to ensure that the PCCM is always thought of as a house of safety, of inclusion, of integrity, of new ideas, of knowledge, and of the kinds of exploration, creativity, and leadership that make DePauw such a vibrant and transformative place.
Professor, Dept. of Communication and Theatre
Director, Pulliam Center for Contemporary Media
Director, Media Fellows Program