More Than Quarter of Surveyed Profs Say They Know Dept Member Who Experienced Sexual Harassment

Roughly 30 percent of surveyed members of the Harvard Faculty of Arts and Sciences say they know at least one person in their department who has experienced sexual harassment.
By Angela N. Fu and Lucy Wang

By Elena Ramos

This is the fourth installment in a five-part series analyzing The Crimson's survey of the more than 1,000 members of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Harvard's flagship faculty. Read the first installment here, the second installment here, the third installment here, and the fifth installment here.

Roughly 30 percent of surveyed members of the Harvard Faculty of Arts and Sciences say they know at least one person in their department who has experienced sexual harassment or assault at the University.

The Crimson’s faculty survey also revealed that a majority of respondents believe their respective departments foster an environment in which affiliates feel comfortable coming forward about instances of sexual misconduct. A majority of respondents also said they “agree” or “strongly agree” with the University’s response to allegations of sexual harassment made against Government Professor Jorge I. Dominguez.

The Crimson conducted a survey of Harvard’s flagship faculty over the course of two weeks in mid-April 2018. The results paint a picture of how the more than 1,000 members of FAS think about key University policies, life at Harvard, the national political climate, and pressing issues of sexual harassment both on campus and nationwide.

The 54-question survey garnered roughly 500 responses, representing more than 40 percent of the Faculty, though not all respondents answered each question. The anonymous survey, emailed to nearly every member of the FAS, was open from April 17 to April 30. The Crimson adjusted the data reported in this story by respondents’ ladder status and divisional affiliation (see below for methodology).


Reports of sexual harassment at Harvard have risen in the past few years.

The Office of Dispute Resolution, which investigates allegations of sexual misconduct, saw a 65 percent increase in formal complaints from the 2015-2016 academic year to the 2016-2017 academic year. ODR also reported an increase in complaints late last year in the wake of the #MeToo movement, a social media campaign asking women to post stories of sexual harassment and assault using the hashtag #MeToo.

When asked whether they they know someone in their department who has experienced sexual harassment at Harvard, 28 percent of survey respondents answered “Yes,” while 13 percent of respondents indicated “prefer not to say.” The remainder answered “No.”

The survey also asked respondents whether they agreed with the assertion that their departments create “an environment where students, faculty, and staff feel comfortable coming forward about instances of sexual misconduct.”

Across all of FAS, the majority of respondents—55 percent—indicated they “agree” or “strongly agree” with the statement. Twenty-one percent indicate they “disagree” or “strongly disagree” and 24 percent reported feeling “neutral.”

Answers varied slightly by department.

A strong majority—66 percent—of respondents who identified themselves as belonging to the Arts and Humanities division indicated they “agree” or “strongly agree” with the statement, while 17 percent selected “neutral.” Around half of respondents who identified themselves as affiliated with the Social Sciences division (53 percent) or Sciences division (50 percent) also indicated they “agree” or “strongly agree.”

Compared to the other three divisions, the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences saw the lowest percentage of affiliated respondents indicate they “agree” or “strongly agree”—42 percent.

SEAS also saw the highest percentage—32 percent—of affiliated respondents indicate they “disagree” or “strongly disagree” with the idea their respective departments foster environments in which affiliates feel comfortable speaking up about sexual misconduct.

Sixteen percent of Arts and Humanities respondents also selected “disagree” or “strongly disagree,” while the Social Sciences and Sciences divisions saw 27 percent and 15 percent of respondents do so, respectively.

Younger respondents were more likely to select the “strongly disagree” option. Fifty-eight percent of respondents who strongly disagreed with the statement indicated their ages fall between 25 and 35 years, while 33 percent identified themselves as between 36 and 45 years old. The remaining 9 percent of respondents who strongly disagreed indicated their ages fall between 56 and 65.


Near the start of the 2018 spring semester, allegations of sexual misconduct perpetrated by Government professor Dominguez garnered national attention and prompted criticism of the University’s set procedures for investigating incidents of sexual harassment.

The Chronicle of Higher Education reported in February and March that at least 18 women are accusing Dominguez of repeated acts of sexual harassment across nearly four decades. After the allegations became public, FAS Dean Michael D. Smith announced that FAS would conduct a “full and fair” review into the accusations and that Dominguez was being placed on paid “administrative leave.” Shortly after Smith’s announcement, Dominguez, who is currently on sabbatical this semester, announced he will retire at the end of the school year and immediately stepped down from his administrative positions.

The Crimson’s survey asked faculty how they felt about the Harvard’s approach towards the allegations against Dominguez. The majority of survey respondents—58 percent—reported they “agreed” or “strongly agreed” with the University’s actions. Nineteen percent indicated they “disagreed” or “strongly disagreed.”

The Crimson reported in April that FAS has filed a Title IX complaint against Dominguez. Once a formal complaint is filed with the Title IX office—which deals with the federal policy that prohibits sex and gender-based discrimination including sexual harassment—ODR investigates the allegations laid out in that complaint.

But several of the women accusing Dominguez of harassment have said that Harvard is “ill-equipped” to adequately investigate Dominguez. The women have pointed to a variety of factors including what they call a lack of resources and a previous failure to recognize Dominguez’s decades of alleged harassment.

Survey respondents were evenly split in their opinions of the Title IX office and the ODR.

Thirty-seven percent of respondents reported they “agree” or “strongly agree” that the Title IX Office and the Office of Dispute Resolution are adequately equipped to deal with issues of sex and gender-based discrimination on campus. Thirty-one percent indicated they “disagree” or “strongly disagree” with that idea. Thirty-two percent reported feeling “neutral.”

Faculty respondents affiliated with the Sciences were most likely to believe resources allocated to the Title IX Office and ODR are sufficient; 52 percent reported they “agree” or “strongly agree” with that assertion while 21 percent reported they “disagree” or strongly disagree.”

By contrast, respondents hailing from SEAS were least likely to report feeling confident in the offices’ ability to investigate sex and gender-based discrimination; 14 percent indicated they “agree” or “strongly agree” while 55 percent reported they “disagree” or “strongly disagree.”


The Harvard Crimson collected electronic responses through the Qualtrics survey platform from April 17 to April 30, 2018. A link to the anonymous survey was sent to 1,173 FAS and SEAS faculty members through emails sourced from Harvard directory information and departmental websites.

Of those faculty who received emails, 516 accessed the link to the survey. A total of 498 participants answered at least one question, and 296 participants completed every question in the survey. To prevent participants from accidentally taking the survey more than once, The Crimson enabled Qualtrics’ browser cookie functionality to register unique survey sessions on each device. This device data is controlled by Qualtrics, and The Crimson does not retain information that could identify devices accessing the survey with anonymous responses.

In an effort to check for response bias, The Crimson compared respondent demographics with publicly available information on faculty demographics provided by the University—information regarding gender, minority background, divisional affiliation, and ladder versus non-ladder status. Overall, respondent demographics tracked with faculty demographics.

Of survey respondents who identified themselves as ladder faculty, 34.5 percent were women and 16.2 percent were minorities. Based on data in the 2017 FAS Dean’s Annual report, women and minorities make up 29.9 percent and 21.9 percent of FAS ladder faculty, respectively.

The Crimson previously reported that, in May 2015, 28.9 percent of the FAS were non-ladder faculty. By contrast, 42 percent of respondents to The Crimson’s survey identified themselves as non-ladder faculty.

Of faculty with known divisional affiliations who were sent links to the survey, 317—or 28.5 percent—are affiliated with the Arts and Humanities, 341—or 30.6 percent—with the Social Sciences, 316—or 28.4 percent—with the Sciences, and 140—or 12.6 percent—with SEAS. In comparison, of respondents who indicated their divisional affiliation on the survey, 39.9 percent reported an affiliation with the Arts and Humanities, 27.8 with the Social Sciences, 28.26 percent with the Sciences, and 7 percent with SEAS.

The Crimson reweighted all responses by ladder status and divisional affiliation—the two demographic categories which saw the most significant areas of response discrepancy. These reweightings did not produce any changes greater than plus or minus 2.5 percent from the unadjusted percentages.

Separately adjusting by gender or minority background yielded no changes greater than plus or minus 0.7 percent to the unadjusted percentages. Therefore, The Crimson did not reweight responses by these two categories. The data reported in the main body of the story thus does not include any reweightings for gender or minority background.

FASFacultySexual AssaultTitle IXODRData AnalysisFront Photo Feature