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To the Editors of The Crimson:
We are writing to express our deep concern regarding Harvard University's handling of the sexual harassment case brought against Jorge I. Dominguez, professor of Government, and to state our dismay at the University's public silence on this issue. As undergraduate students writing theses in Latin American studies, we speak only for ourselves, but we know that many students and faculty members privately echo our sentiments. Some are unwilling to speak out because of their sense of professional discretion; others are unable to speak publicly because of fear of reprisal.
This letter addresses three concerns: first, the unacceptable academic situation which this case has produced: second, the destructive effects of the University's secrecy on this issue: third, the University's unsatisfactory response to this particular case and to the larger issue of sexual harassment at Harvard.
1. The Dominguez case has reduced Harvard's once vibrant Latin American studies program to a near shadow existence. Because key Latin American political scientists, Professors Terry Karl and Samuel Valenzuela, are on leave, we are faced with insufficient faculty coverage in Latin American studies. Those of us who choose to pursue these studies and write theses in this area are now left with the unacceptable prospect of having to work with Professor Dominguez, the only professor left in this field.
We could no longer, in good conscience, enroll in Professor Dominguez's courses. We understand and support the many students who share these views. Based on our understanding of the facts, we believe that Jorge I Dominguez is not fit to continue as a professor at Harvard and that his continued presence is a moral stain on Harvard's reputation. What more must someone do before Harvard revokes his or her tenure?
So long as Professor Dominguez remains at Harvard, we fear that the Latin American studies program will continue to disintegrate: graduate students will, we are convinced, leave to pursue their studies elsewhere. We are being left without courses, faculty, section leaders, thesis advisors or tutors. As awkward as our situation has become, a student now entering the field could not hope to construct a coherent plan of study.
Students depend on their professors to maintain the integrity of student-teacher relationships--the cornerstone of a liberal arts education. In order to provide academic guidance, a professor must inspire the students' trust: Jorge Dominguez has lost our trust. The University's inadequate response to this case undermines Harvard's most fundamental and time-honored principle, that of providing to dedicated students the resources and environment necessary to pursue and academically wound education.
2. Along with the academic crisis sparked by the Daminguez case, we are deeply worried about the University's handing of the issue; the case is far from closed. It is inexcusable that Harvard expect students to continue working with Professor Dominguez without refillable information regarding the University's investigations and actions on this issue.
What were the charges? What standards and procedures were followed to adjudicate them? What where the findings and punishments? The University has a responsibility to the Harvard community to clarify its stance on this case, a case with far-reaching academic and moral repercussions
We understand and appreciate the need for confidentiality to protect individuals. But the University's silence has left a vacuum now filled by destructive rumor and innuendo which can only further harm the victims of Professor Dominguez's reported abuse.
Equally destructive as the climate of rumor is the climate of fear which this case has generated within the academic community. Students who wish to express their outrage at the restrictions now placed on their academic programs, at the reprehensible actions of which Professor Dominguez has apparently been found guilty, or at the University's handling of the case, must consider first the ways in which Professor Dominguez may continue to affect their academic careers.
3. We believe that the Dominguez case brings into focus the larger issues of sexual harassment and sexual abuse of power at Harvard. Professor Dominguez's reported actions and the lack of a commensurate University response call into question Harvard's dedication to its professed commitment to protect students from sexual harassment. By token punishments and public silence, Harvard University is implicitly condoning sexual harassment.
In summary, and for the above reasons, we request:
1. That the University immediately move to provide adequate faculty coverage in Latin American studies:
2. That the University publicly clarify the facts of the case and the actions which it has taken in response:
3. That the University publicly review its procedures for ensuring that sexual harassment does not occur and for guaranteeing adequate adjudication when it does, and that the University demonstrate this commitment of combatting sexual harassment by moving to revoke tenure of Jorge I. Dominguez, Professor of Government. Michael Adams '84 Department of Government Michael Heller '84 Department of Social Studies Dove Scherr '84 Special Concentrator in Latin American Studies
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