Mark (mhaithaca) wrote,

Is there a gender bias in how we're seeing this case? (218.3)

Spoiler alert: Probably.

Dr. Shirley Collado, new president of Ithaca College, has a sexual assault conviction in her past. It's not clear who brought this to the attention of student journalists at The Ithacan, but they wrote it up earlier this week as though it were news.

Dr. Shirley ColladoThe thing is, it's "old news," since a) she fully discussed the incident in her past (in which she pleaded nolo contendere, or no contest, to the charge, and did not admit guilt) during the presidential search process, and b) the topic was brought up when she was introduced to the campus community last winter.

In other words, we all knew about this. Or, the info was there for those who needed it, even if many hadn't noticed.

But some of the reaction asks the rhetorical question, "Would this be handled differently if this were a white male executive instead of a woman of color?" In an ideal world, of course not, but especially in the current climate, it wouldn't surprise me if the Ithaca College board of trustees would've been a lot more reticent to issue their strong statement of support.

Are some people reacting the other way, giving her less of a benefit of the doubt because she's a woman, or because she's of Latina heritage? I think that's some of the reaction to the board support, in fact.

My take on the story is that there's no "there" there. Had she tried to hide this part of her past, or brushed it off entirely as lies, my reaction would be very different. But during the search, she talked about it, explained it, and let the search committee decide how to handle it. They were satisfied. We should be, too.

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