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Harvard Launches Survey to Assess Government Dept. Culture After Dominguez Controversy

The offices of Harvard's Government Department are housed in CGIS Knafel.
The offices of Harvard's Government Department are housed in CGIS Knafel. By Kathryn S. Kuhar
By Angela N. Fu and Lucy Wang, Crimson Staff Writers

Harvard launched a survey Thursday that will assess the culture of the Government Department — a survey the department vowed to undertake following allegations of sexual assault against a prominent Government professor that roiled campus last semester.

The survey, which will remain open from Oct. 4 to Oct. 18, includes questions asking whether affiliates feel included, whether they have experienced harassment, and how they would rate their professional well-being. All responses will remain anonymous.

“We’re just trying to understand more about the climate of the Government Department, and what people’s concerns are, and what their particular experiences are with issues like harassment and discrimination and understand what the levels of those are in the department,” said Ryan D. Enos, an associate professor of Government who is helping lead the survey.

Though it will be administered through the University’s Office of Institutional Research, the survey is the brainchild of the Government Department’s Climate Change Committee, which administrators formed in March 2018 after at least 18 women stepped forward to accuse Government Professor Jorge I. Dominguez of repeated acts of sexual harassment that spanned nearly four decades.

It was not the first time Dominguez had been accused of sexual misconduct — after women came forward with similar allegations in the 1980s, administrators slapped sanctions on the professor. But he was allowed to remain at Harvard and ultimately rose through the ranks to hold ever-higher positions of administrative power. After the 18 women spoke up this year, many department affiliates said they were frustrated Harvard had allowed Dominguez to remain on campus for decades.

At the time of its creation, administrators tasked the committee with understanding how the “Dominguez situation” came to be — and with addressing concerns over “inappropriate power dynamics” and “gendered interactions” in the Government department. The 15-member committee, which includes faculty, staff, and students, released a preliminary report over the summer outlining agendas for each of its seven subcommittees.

One of the agenda items comprised a climate survey that the “inclusive climate” subcommittee will use to conduct a “review of the department’s performance on issues of sexual harassment,” according to the summer report.

Enos, who chairs the inclusive climate subcommittee, said in an interview Thursday that the group will produce an initial report based on the survey results and will deliver it to faculty members by Oct. 23.

Though Enos said he does not yet have an exact timeline, he said the full report will be released to the general public by the “end of October.”

In addition to questions on the general climate of the Government Department, the survey asks respondents for a variety of demographic details including their gender, political affiliation, and whether respondents identify as racial minorities.

Enos said that OIR — and not members of the Government Department committee — will handle and analyze all data collected. Enos and his fellow subcommittee members will examine only the finalized OIR report, though they can request certain kinds of analysis from the University’s research arm.

“We don’t ever touch the data, and we have no way to identify individuals that way because we don’t see the individual data,” Enos said. “We have no plans to censor any of the data.”

Enos said he hopes for a high response rate from Government affiliates. He said a larger number of replies will assist the committee and the department in making future reforms.

“The more people that take it, the better data we have,” Enos said. “The better data we get, the more we can accurately reflect on what [the data is] and the more we can do on it.”

—Staff writer Angela N. Fu can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @angelanfu.

—Staff writer Lucy Wang can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @lucyyloo22

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