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OU's Fine Arts Diversity Council to host panel discussion on sexism, sexual harassment in entertainment industry

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Fine Arts Diversity Council

OU's Fine Arts Diversity Council is sponsoring a panel discussion Nov. 15.

OU's Fine Arts Diversity Council will sponsor a panel discussion about sexual harassment, discrimination and sexism in the entertainment industry called “#MeToo combating inequality in the entertainment industry” on Nov. 15.

Attendees will have the chance to ask five panelists questions about how to react to and report sexual misconduct, as well as how to avoid committing it.

The goal of the event is to create a respectful dialogue about sexual harassment and discrimination, specifically within the entertainment industry, said Bliss Brown, event panelist and OU Gender + Equality center coordinator for gender-based violence prevention programs.  

The issue of sexual misconduct in the fine arts gained prevalence on campus after the former director of the OU School of Drama and current professor Tom Orr was investigated for sexual harassment allegations made by multiple former OU drama students. This came to light four months after OU professor emeritus and arts donor John Scamehorn was accused of sexual harassment by former students.

Brown said the panel is “reactionary to everything that’s been happening, but I think at the end of the day this is something that needs to be done. It’s a good start.”

Current students in the School of Drama spearheaded this panel’s creation.

Jose Morales, acting junior, approached Brown and his drama professor, Judith Pender, voicing the desire of many current students to have a transparent conversation about discrimination, sexual harassment and sexism in the fine arts, Brown said.

The panel will consist of OU faculty members with backgrounds in women’s and gender studies, journalism and theater. The panel will consist of Brown; Lisa Funnell, assistant professor in women’s and gender studies; Heather Siess, regional working actress; Toni Marlo, department head of makeup and special effects on film sets; and Ralph Beliveau, associate professor of creative media production.

“I think looking forward to the future – next semester, next year, the following years – are we still doing this sort of education? Are we still having these conversations?” Brown said. “That will say a lot about how much of a priority preventing sexual violence in the College of Fine Arts is because right now we are doing reactionary work, but what are we going to be doing to prevent?”

The panel discussion will take place from 5 to 6 p.m. Nov. 15 in the Weitzenhoffer Theatre inside of the Fine Arts Center on campus.

The event is co-sponsored by the Center for Social Justice and Gender + Equality Center.

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