A response to CSCU President Terrence Cheng and Board of Regents Chair Matt Fleury:
As a feminist and a long-time English professor inside the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities system, I was appalled by your opinion piece in the Sept 9 CT Mirror where you chastise and also impugn the honesty of economics professor Brendan Cunningham of ECSU for his essay castigating misogynistic language and behavior from CSCU head of Human Resources Andy Kripp, your employee. You suggest that the language and behavior can be excused due to the heat of negotiating meetings, an opinion which is intensely tone-deaf and borders on outright misogyny itself.
It’s both shocking and grotesque that the actual head of Human Resources for the 17- unit CSCU system is so out of touch with current standards of professional behavior that he feels free to indulge in such clearly offensive behavior as described by state employees and also by a lawyer for ECSU. It is also grotesque and tone-deaf that you two powerful males, Mr. Cheng and Mr. Fleury, would write such a piece, in effect sweeping under the carpet the reported misogynistic offenses of a powerful male inside your organization. Would you do the same for racist or anti-Semitic or homophobic language from one of your employees in a professional situation? If not, then why is reported misogynistic behavior treated so lightly by you?
By the way, the various pieces referred to above all add up to a powerful “teachable moment.” They can serve beautifully as texts for a college English 101 essay assignment on gender stereotyping, toxic masculinity, “cringe” situations, and the still white-hot issues of patriarchy and misogyny. Most college students today would clearly see what is going on here; they recognize sexism pretty clearly.
Mr. Fleury and Mr. Cheng, you were wrong to call Brendan Cunningham’s piece dishonest. You owe him an apology, and you owe all of CSCU an apology. Protecting misogyny will no longer stand.
Christine Japely is an English Professor at Norwalk Community College.