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The Faculty of Arts and Sciences has placed Government Professor Jorge I. Dominguez on “administrative leave” days after The Chronicle of Higher Education reported that at least 10 women are accusing Dominguez of sexual harassment over the past 30 years.
FAS Dean Michael D. Smith announced the decision to put Dominguez on leave in an email sent to FAS affiliates Sunday evening.
“I write to announce that the Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS) has placed Jorge Dominguez on administrative leave, pending a full and fair review of the facts and circumstances regarding allegations that have come to light,” Smith wrote. “I want to state unequivocally that the FAS will not tolerate sexual harassment. I encourage anyone who has witnessed sexual harassment in the FAS, recently or in the past, to come forward and share their experiences with our Title IX coordinators.”
This leave is effective immediately.
Smith wrote in the email that it is “imperative” that Harvard lend support to those who have suffered sexual harassment.
“We will use every means at our disposal to ensure that we create a safe and healthy community in which people can thrive,” Smith wrote.
Dominguez’s lawyer, Leonard H. Kesten, wrote in an email that Dominguez was informed of the decision “a couple hours before” Smith sent out the email.
Since The Chronicle reported on harassment allegations against Dominguez spanning decades last Tuesday, many students have called for Dominguez’s removal.
In an email to Harvard affiliates Friday, Provost Alan M. Garber ’76 did not say whether Dominguez would suffer consequences, but affirmed the University’s commitment to creating a “safe and healthy educational and work environment” and asked Harvard affiliates to come forward if they had experienced sexual harassment or assault.
The email followed a Friday morning meeting held to allow Government concentrators to discuss the allegations and to share their thoughts on gender and harassment issues within the department. At the meeting, students questioned the University’s lack of action on the issue.
“I understand there was only one formal complaint,” Government concentrator Emily E. Bergquist ’18 said at the meeting. “There were several articles in The Crimson. Was the department aware of those? Has the department done anything in response to that?”
The Weatherhead Center, where Dominguez is a a Senior Advisor, also released a statement on Friday in response to the Chronicle article. Center Director Michèle Lamont wrote that the Center is “unambiguously committed to the policy and practice of zero tolerance of sexual harassment or gendered disparity of treatment.” She also encouraged Harvard affiliates to reach out to her, Title IX officers, and other administrators.
“The Weatherhead center leadership continues to respond to this developing situation,” Lamont wrote.
The decision to place Dominguez on leave comes nearly 40 years after he sexually harassed a junior in one of his classes, according to a second article by The Chronicle published Sunday.
Dominguez has suffered consequences for sexual harassment once before. The University first took action against the professor in 1983 when it barred him from administrative duties following multiple reports from former assistant professor Terry Karl and another graduate student that he made sexual advances towards them.
Since the 1983 sanctions, Dominguez has served in multiple high-up administrative positions. He served as director of the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs from 1995 to 2006 and was Harvard’s first vice provost for International Affairs from 2006 to 2015.
As Dominguez rose through the ranks, he continued to sexually harass over a dozen women, according to The Chronicle. The victims ranged from students at the College to other junior faculty, and the most recent incident reported in The Chronicle took place in 2015.
It is unclear when the University last placed a faculty member on “administrative leave.” Smith did not mention in his email what privileges Dominguez will lose while on leave.
A professor’s position last came under public investigation by an internal FAS committee in 2011, when a committee found psychology professor Marc Hauser guilty of scientific misconduct. Ultimately, Hauser resigned from Harvard.
In addition to Dominguez, two other Government professors were publicly accused of sexual misconduct in the 1980s. In 1985, Government professor Douglas A. Hibbs was forced to resign after sexual harassment accusations.
Government concentrator Elena D. Sokoloski ’18, who started the social media campaign “#DominguezMustGo,” said she was happy to hear that Dominguez had been placed on leave. She said she believes the action indicates the administration is taking the situation “seriously.”
“I'm so happy. I know that it's only the beginning, but it's a really good start,” she said.
Sokoloski added she thinks the administration must continue to address the broader issue of sexual harassment at Harvard.
“This problem isn't just about Dominguez, it's about department-wide culture that allowed this to happen for 40 years,” Sokoloski said. “It's time to get down to work and begin taking steps to make sure this sort of climate is changed, this climate where women don't feel safe coming forward about sexual harassment.”
—Staff writer Angela N. Fu can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @angelanfu.
—Staff writer Lucy Wang can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @lucyyloo22
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