Heatherton’s Firing a Right Step

WSN Editorial Board

On Tuesday, WSN reported that NYU fired visiting scholar Todd Heatherton in late October after sexual misconduct allegations. These allegations came to light after The Dartmouth, Dartmouth College’s student newspaper, reported that three of its psychology professors were under investigation for serious misconduct — Heatherton was one of them. NYU’s spokesperson John Beckman claimed the university had no previous knowledge of these allegations and that it was unaware of Dartmouth’s investigation prior to Heatherton’s hiring. NYU made the right decision in firing him. Furthermore, as allegations of rape, sexual assault and harassment continue to surface, NYU must continue to ensure that its campus remains a safe place for its students.

Lately, sexual violence has been a central topic in the media. As the Harvey Weinstein case became more widely discussed, many women, in and out of the entertainment industry, decided to come forward with their stories. These testimonies only emphasized how ingrained rape culture is in our society and how this must be changed. The WSN Editorial Board has expressed disgust of such misogynistic behavior many times and urged NYU to take a stance against it. After all, college-aged women are three times more at risk to suffer sexual violence than the average women. While Heatherton’s firing is comforting, there is much more that the university can do to ensure safety.

Some of the NYU’s clubs are committed to ensuring safety for all students. For example, last week, HerCampus NYU, Voices for Planned Parenthood at NYU and the Feminist Society at NYU claimed their spaces as safe spaces for victims of sexual assault. However, from self-defense classes to increasing the frequency of Safe Ride buses, NYU has an amalgam of possibilities for improval. Similar to initiatives at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, NYU could launch a campus-wide initiative to prevent sexual assault. “UMatter at UMass,” the aforementioned initiative, has provided bystander training for 450 residents and had posters all over campus encouraging students to be active bystanders. Also, the University of Pennsylvania now includes questions about student resources for sexual assault in their student surveys which push students to be as aware of their resources as possible — another measure that NYU can adapt.

Nonetheless, the only way to ensure that all of the students are thriving in university is to ensure that they are safe. NYU must pay attention to sexual violence allegations and increase the number of sexual assault resources available to its students. After all, universities are responsible for the minds of the future generation, and we must make sure that this disgusting misogynistic culture ceases to be our reality.


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