If the Norwood Teague scandal isn’t causing a discussion on sexual harassment in your workplace, you’re doing it wrong.
Teague, who has a problem treating women in the workplace with anything approaching respect, is rapidly becoming a minor part of the Norwood Teague story. He’s gone from his athletic director gig.
All that’s left is for the rest of us men to look at ourselves in the mirror and ask, “what can I do to make doing a job a safe endeavor for women?”
The Teague story is going to be less about Teague as it moves forward, and more about the men who covered for him, who looked the other way, or who flat-out slapped him on the back and said, “good one” when he eyed his latest target.
Sexual harassment is about power more than it’s about sex. It’s about using your position to flex your leverage over others, and to do it with impunity.
And that’s an unfortunate byproduct of the behemoth that big-time college athletics have become. At least tacitly, the system enables things like Teague’s abuses to happen.
This isn’t about being drunk and stupid.
This isn’t about being overserved, or oversexed.
This is about abuse of power, in a system that has completely forgotten the mission of a public university — to educate students, not to generate revenue and contributions for athletic facilities.
The Teague incident does reflect the culture and values of the university.
And Chip Scoggins, writing in his Star Tribune space today, appropriately calls for an exhaustive investigation into who knew what at the U of M.
Their investigation must be exhaustive, starting with Teague’s arrival in 2012. Did the school consider the possibility that this wasn’t an isolated incident, that there might be more victims of his harassment? If not, the university took an incredibly naïve approach in addressing the problem.
In cases like this, we often learn that the perpetrator engaged in a pattern of such behavior. That should be the crux of the U’s investigation.
Officials need to find out who knew what. They need to comb through Teague’s e-mails, text messages and cellphone photos to see if they can find a pattern.
They need to interview every member of his management team and all the cronies he brought with him from Virginia Commonwealth University to Minnesota and comb through their e-mails, texts and photos, too.
It’s tempting to approach the Teague story by making it a story about the University of Minnesota. But it’s not. It’s about our culture. It’s about when we looked the other way. It’s about when we didn’t speak up.
I’m not embarrassed by Teague because he brought shame to a university I embrace, or a state I love.
I’m embarrassed because I’m a man.