To my institution
I thought my first open letter would be one of indignation or frustration at something. It’s not as though I’m always angry, it’s just easier to use writing as a sort of venting method. But recently I’ve found something positive to focus on, so instead I’ve chosen to write an open thank you to you, my institution.
Thank you for taking harassment seriously. I’m serious, this isn’t satirical. My institution, for once in my whole life, has taken a personal, female issue seriously for me. Thank you for proving me wrong that not all institutions don’t care about harassment. You’ve proven to me that you do, that you care about me, my safety, and the safety of others. It even goes beyond that, you’ve shown to me that you respect me and my rights as a human being and want me to grow. In a time where a lot of that is disrespected, I’ve been fortunate enough to have you guide me through a rough patch--a first encounter with harassment in the workplace, all the while receiving your support and respect.
So thank you, really.
I can’t emphasize enough how so many women feel alone and isolated when dealing with harassment in their workplace. I think it’s typical to dread walking into work; to hate getting up and sacrificing 8 hours of my day to sludge over something that may or may not be interesting to me, depending on my task. That’s how I’ve felt with most of my jobs, but it’s only ever acted as a temporary platform to vent at, not really relating to any actual issues other than my own human laziness. I like my job, I really do. So this hurt hard.
My second day going into work after reporting harassment felt 10 times worse than any morning drudge. My bones ached with the dread of all of the embarrassing eye contact to come between myself and the men I’ve been dealing with. I felt fatigued thinking about the meetings to come, the emails I’d have to read and carefully reply to. I then felt constant anger for being blamed as making a big deal out of something deemed a misunderstanding that’s being handled already. Queue in my own guilt tripping where I almost convince myself I shouldn’t have brought such issues to light.
Queue in your institutional support.
Yes, your respectful, earnest, and concerned support. Your hesitation at being too direct. Your premade decision to intervene for my own safety and that of others, as it was clearly your primary concern. Your handling of the seriousness of the issue and how you didn’t consider it tedious and troublesome. Your willingness to make sure this doesn’t effect me negatively ever because according to you, it wasn’t my fault and I shouldn’t have to suffer any consequences for speaking out. Your support in my decision to speak out for the sake of myself and others in my workplace has spurred a newfound positivity in me. Thank you for hearing me out, for agreeing that issues like these need to be resolved, and those involved accounted for.
You told me that this, unfortunately, would most likely not be my last time dealing with unfair working situations and that for my sake, my own personal growth, I should consider sticking it out.
You didn’t tell me to back down, to give up or quit.
You advised me to use this as a platform for growth. You assured me that if it was still too uncomfortable, there would’ve been nothing wrong with leaving. I chose not to, and I thank you for encouraging me to do so. I’ve grown from it. I don’t feel guilty anymore.
So thank you, TUJ. I never thought I would thank my school for helping me through harassment; for advising me through it, respecting my well-being and self, and for being genuinely concerned. It means more than I can write.