The longer I spend in grad school, the more frustrated I get with all the political maneuvering and bureaucratic red tape. For example, last week one of the older male faculty members in our department made an inappropriate comment to one of my labmates about her not wanting to eat too much because she's looking a bit "husky". Now, mind you, this girl is anything but, probably in the best shape of anyone in lab, so this comment couldn't be more misplaced, but regardless, it's bound to hurt. Not to mention the fact that comments like those are what often lead to eating disorders and a decreased self-confidence, but that's a rant for another time. Yet this professor felt it necessary and appropriate to say something.
So the question is what do we do. Turns out this same faculty member has made comments to multiple labmates (past and present) before about the way they look, has hit on multiple females before (even slapping one's rear end at one point), and has been approached by superiors about it repeatedly. In fact, he was canned from the dean's office and no longer allowed to have female employees because of a sexual harassment complaint of an ex grad student. So why is he still employed by Emory?
Unfortunately, there's something in the academic world called tenure. For faculty, it's job security earned by hard work early in your career. In laymen's terms, it means the University can't fire you for much of anything. While I understand the faculty concerns, it seems to me that there needs to be more lenient definitions of what is actually grounds for termination. It's likely that Charles Nemeroff, the ex chair of Psychiatry who is currently under investigation for not disclosing money he got from pharmaceutical companies that directly conflicted with his research, will have a similar fate. Unless he's actually prosecuted and imprisoned, it's unlikely that Emory will do anything other than shuffle him around.
Tenure is why it is ridiculously hard to get rid of bad teachers at every grade level. While designed to protect/reward teachers for good work, it seems to be abused at every step along the way. Most schools would rather avoid the hassle, leaving those who are directly influenced by certain faculty's behavior to deal with the consequences.