Universities, like other large institutions, have been plagued by scandal related to sexual misconduct. Among the latest institutions facing significant disruption on the basis of an alleged wrongful failure of administrators to prevent or remedy (through for example appropriate working systems of monitoring and mitigation) such sexual misconduct is the University of Southern California. USC is now in the midst of the consequences of "a growing scandal over abuse of students by a campus gynecologist, George Tyndall, and other incidents in which the university is perceived to have failed to act on misconduct by powerful officials." (Scott Jaschik, USC President Will Step Down, Inside Higher Education 29 May 2018).
This post considers the way that such scandals have now acquired their own patterns of response. It suggests the way that for large institutions, mere reliance on institutional reporting and monitoring systems, even those combined with robust complaint avenues, are rarely sufficient to produce a robust and effective response (See,On the Management of Scandal in the Modern University; Some Lessons and Insights for Times of Crisis; for earlier reflections in other institutions see, e.g., here, here, here, here, here). Accountability might be far more effective with a strong and well developed system of both internal and external stakeholder action, one that makes it more difficult for senior administrators to seek shelter within their self reflexive managerial cocoons. For internal action, the protections of tenure academic freedom are essential. For external sanctions, a robust social media and news establishment is essential for communicating complaints to the larger markets in which the university operates and on which it is dependent (made up of alumni, donors, regulators and students).