Panelists tackle gender equity through dialogue on sexual harassment in the workplace

Power Dynamics panel
The panel, from left: Rebecca Whiting, Jacqueline Cornell, Thehbia Hiwot (MUP 2005), Angela Pinsky (MUP 2005), and Surabhi Lal

On December 11, NYU Wagner hosted “Power Dynamics in the Workplace: Sexual Harassment” as part of the Office of the Dean’s Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion programming. The event was co-sponsored with Wagner Women's Caucus and Stonewall Policy Alliance.

Panelists included Jacqueline Cornell, JD, Title IX Investigator, NYU Office of Equal Opportunity; Thehbia Hiwot, Executive Director of Housing, Buyout, and Acquisition Programs at the Governor's Office of Storm Recovery (MUP 2005); Angela Pinsky, Executive Director at the Association for a Better New York (MUP 2005); and Rebecca Whiting, LCSW, Assistant Director of Counseling, Wellness, & Sexual Assault Response at the NYU Student Health Center Counseling & Wellness Services. Surabhi Lal, Director of Career Services at NYU Wagner, moderated the discussion.

As Lal pointed out at the start of the event, a growing number of public figures have been accused of sexual harassment in the past two months. Panelists explored this issue by discussing their own experiences with harassment and discrimination in the workplace, and how these experiences continue despite their positions as high-level managers.

Panelists also shared laws and resources available to students. Cornell emphasized the importance of training on vocabulary, legal rights, and whom to consult with concerns: NYU students can contact the Office of Equal Opportunity as well as the Bias Response Line. Whiting also promoted the Wellness Exchange, which has a counseling line staffed 24-7.

Student questions for the panelists focused on how to better engage men in this discussion, as well as ways to create meaningful change. As Whiting emphasized, “the culture of safety and respect has to start small—it has to start between individuals.” Panelists recommended initiating conversations that are open and engaging, becoming familiar with policies at your workplace, and speaking up when you overhear inappropriate language or comments.

Daniela Gilbert, a first-year MPA-PNP student, appreciated the opportunity for dialogue. “I'm proud to be part of an institution that takes issues of gender equity seriously ... the panelists illuminated that equity is not [just] about addressing acute instances of micro-aggression, harassment, or assault. It is about a process of systemic change, which requires collective effort and accountability."