In Wake of Dominguez Allegations, Harvard Asks Affiliates to Come Forward

Massachusetts Hall, Fall 2017
Massachusetts Hall houses the offices of University President Drew G. Faust.
Harvard is asking undergraduate and graduate students who have experienced “inappropriate behavior” to come forward following new sexual misconduct allegations against Government Professor Jorge I. Dominguez, whom administrators disciplined for similar actions in the 1980s.

The University’s request comes three days after the Chronicle of Higher Education reported that at least 10 women are accusing Dominguez of various acts of sexual harassment over the past 30 years. Many of the allegations had not been previously reported.

In an email to University affiliates Friday afternoon, University Provost Alan M. Garber ’77 directly referenced the Chronicle of Higher Education article and wrote that this is “a difficult moment for our community.”

“It was heartbreaking to read the accounts of former students and faculty who report having suffered inappropriate and unwelcome behavior,” Garber wrote. “Harvard takes seriously the concerns recently brought to our attention by former students.”

Faculty of Arts and Sciences spokesperson Anna Cowenhoven wrote in an emailed statement to The Crimson Friday that the University is actively seeking the stories of Harvard affiliates who have interacted with Dominguez.

“Upon learning of [the allegations] prior to the Chronicle’s story, the Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS) immediately began reaching out to students and post-docs who have worked closely with Prof. Dominguez to ask about their experiences,” Cowenhoven wrote.

“We encourage any member of our community who has experienced inappropriate behavior to come forward,” she added.

Harvard’s central administration also called on affiliates with concerns to contact administrators who work on Title IX issues across the University.

“We encourage any member of the Harvard community who has been directly impacted by conduct that may be in violation of Harvard’s Sexual and Gender-Based Harassment Policy to reach out to their local Title IX Coordinator, the University Title IX Office, and/or the Office for Dispute Resolution,” spokesperson Melodie L. Jackson wrote in a statement Friday.

She also wrote Harvard reviews all concerns to determine cases where administrators find that alleged actions have contributed to a “hostile environment.”

In his email, Garber acknowledged that students and faculty can sometimes be afraid to speak out because they fear negative ramifications for their academic career. He wrote the University is working to create an atmosphere in which people who have experienced sexual harassment feel comfortable coming forward.

“The only way to create and sustain a safe and healthy educational and work environment is to work constantly to improve, refine, and strengthen how we respond to—and prevent—sexual or gender-based harassment, including sexual assault,” he wrote.

Garber also affirmed the University’s commitment to investigating allegations of sexual harassment when Harvard affiliates do speak up.

“I want to say unequivocally that Harvard is committed to creating and sustaining a safe, healthy and non-discriminatory educational and work environment for our community, and we can and will promptly and fairly pursue any claim of sexual harassment or assault brought forward to the full extent of our policies,” he wrote. “We are grateful to the members of our community who make the courageous decision to come forward.”

Garber pointed to the University’s sexual and gender-based harassment policy and procedures that allow any Harvard affiliate—current or former—to file formal complaints, request resolutions, and access resources meant to help them continue their academic program at the University after experiencing harassment. Garber noted that resources available to Harvard affiliates include counseling and mental health services as well as chaplains.

One of Dominguez’s accusers, Nienke C. Grossman ’99, told The Chronicle of Higher Education she contacted the University Title IX Office in Nov. 2017. Jackson confirmed Friday that Grossman had reached out to Harvard’s Title IX administrators.

Dominguez, a Latin American specialist who has taught at Harvard for decades, held posts as the vice provost for International Affairs from 2006 to 2015 and the director of the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs from 1995 to 2006. He has also overseen graduate dissertations and taught undergraduate courses throughout his decades-long tenure at Harvard.

Most recently, Dominguez—who is on sabbatical this semester—taught a freshman seminar in fall 2017 entitled “Mexico: Revolution, Authoritarianism, and Democracy: 100 Years.”

Administrators formally disciplined Dominguez for sexual misconduct toward Karl in the 1980s, when he stepped down from his post as chairman of an interdisciplinary Latin American studies committee.

The Chronicle of Higher Ed article detailed Karl’s allegations, in addition to making public the allegations of nine other women. These include several graduate students at Harvard from the mid-2000s, during the time Dominguez was serving as Vice Provost for International Affairs.

The Government department held a meeting for undergraduate concentrators Friday afternoon to address the article and discuss concerns about gender and sexual harassment issues in the department. At the event, some students called for Dominguez’s removal.

Leon H. Kesten, a lawyer representing Dominguez, declined to comment on the allegations against his client in an emailed statement Friday.

The allegations against Dominguez come as women in professions across the country have begun to air allegations of sexual harassment against men in positions of power, beginning with film producer Harvey Weinstein. University President Drew G. Faust wrote in a community message in Dec. 2017 that Harvard is working to ensure people feel comfortable seeking assistance in cases of sexual harassment.

“At Harvard, we are committed to ensuring that every member of our community can thrive, and we are endeavoring to create the kind of environment in which incidents are prevented entirely or surfaced and addressed appropriately and effectively,” Faust wrote.

—Staff writer Jamie D. Halper can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @jamiedhalper.


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