#MeToo to be Focus of Spring Kitchen Table Discussion – OHIO University Libraries

#MeToo to be Focus of Spring Kitchen Table Discussion

Graphic design by Chance Brinkman-Sull/Ohio University Libraries

As the #MeToo movement moves across the nation, Ohio University librarians want to provide OHIO students an opportunity to discuss their understanding of the movement.

To do this, Eileen Theodore-Shusta, director of planning, assessment and organization effectiveness with the Libraries, has invited a trio of leaders at Ohio University to take part in a discussion titled “The #MeToo Campaign and its Impact: A Kitchen Table Conversation.” The discussion will take place on March 29 at 2 p.m. in the 1951 Lounge on the fourth floor of Alden Library.

“All of a sudden you are hearing about [#MeToo] in the media, on Facebook, all over,” she said. “This will focus on what does that mean for us here at Ohio University.”

Each semester, the Libraries sponsors a Kitchen Table discussion and invites policy makers at the University to act as participants and answer questions from the audience. This semester the participants will include Jenny Hall-Jones, associate vice president and dean of students; Thomas Vander Ven, professor and graduate chair in the sociology and anthropology department; and Sara Trower, executive director of civil rights and accessibility.

Theodore-Shusta, chair of the Libraries’ committee on inclusion and diversity, explained she and her team selected Jones-Hall and Trower as leaders who work with #MeToo-related situations as a part of their jobs. Vander Ven was selected because his research focuses on sexual violence and bystander intervention on college campuses.

Vander Ven said the discussion, as opposed to a lecture or presentation, allows for the three participants, who come to the table with different backgrounds, to collaborate and share their thoughts with the audience.

“It’s really too early to say what the impact of the #MeToo movement will be; it’s an empirical question, and I am hopeful about it,” he said. “The angle that I am going to take is—given what we know about victimization on campus [and] the variables that seem to matter—how might the #MeToo movement affect those variables.”

Theodore-Shusta explained Hall-Jones, Trower and Vander Ven will serve as leading participants, not panelists, meaning they will not use prepared statements but instead address topics posed by the audience. Sherri Saines, subject librarian for the social sciences, will moderate the discussion.

“One of our hopes is that the people who come to this [will] determine the focus of the conversation,” Theodore-Shusta said. “So, what we are going to do is come up with some initial questions …and then the audience can take it from there. We feel like this group [of participants] is a nice balance.”

Vander Ven added discussions such as the kitchen table allow for students to have an accurate understanding of the movement.

“I think that there is some bad information out there, and I think we are currently living in the middle of this fake news narrative,” Vander Ven said. “Anything we can do to interact with the public or interact with each other as scholars to draw attention to data, empirically driven data, and what we know about these things, I like.”

Along with relating #MeToo to the University’s values, Theodore-Shusta and her committee hope the discussion will raise awareness of the resources OHIO has for victims of sexual harassment and violence. A date late in March was selected, she added, because April is sexual harassment awareness month.