Government department leaders have appointed a new Title IX liaison and are in communication with the external committee tasked with reviewing the department, Government chair Jeffry A. Frieden announced at a town hall meeting Tuesday.
Roughly 60 Government affiliates attended the town hall, the first of a series of department-wide meetings aimed at addressing departmental culture. In May, the Government Climate Change Committee — formed after 18 women publicly accused former Government professor Jorge I. Dominguez of sexual misconduct — released a report finding a “prolonged institutional failure” by the department in providing a safe work environment.
The report outlined various recommendations for improving departmental culture, including regular town hall meetings, a new liaison position, and an external review. Last month, University President Lawrence S. Bacow appointed three academics to undertake the review. He tasked them with investigating the factors that allowed Dominguez to sexually harass multiple women over four decades.
The external review, however, will not examine the allegations themselves, according to Bacow.
After a year-long investigation, the Office for Dispute Resolution found that Dominguez had engaged in “unwelcome sexual conduct,” prompting Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences Claudine Gay to strip him of his emeritus status and bar him from campus.
Frieden said at the Tuesday meeting he has been informed that the external review committee is combing through more than 1,000 pages of material, including the department’s climate report.
“They have been trying to schedule a campus visit, which will mostly be oriented towards making contact with and speaking with people in and around the department” said Frieden said.
Affiliates will likely not be able to share information with the external review committee anonymously, given that the committee seeks to verify details about departmental culture, according to Frieden.
The department also appointed Government professor Alistir Iain Johnston to serve as the department’s new Title IX liaison. Johnston has already undergone multiple hours of training in responding to sexual harassment allegations, though his mandate is more expansive. He will also work to address affiliates’ concerns about “work-life balance” and other personal issues.
“He has been doing a wonderful job,” Frieden said. “He has been setting the standard and precedent for how future Title IX liaisons can perform.”
The department also hired a “data fellow” to help bolster recruitment of graduate students and faculty who come from diverse backgrounds by compiling information about prospective recruits from around the country.
At the meeting, Frieden also updated department affiliates on the progress of ongoing hiring efforts. In the May report, the climate change committee highlighted gender disparities within the department’s faculty. In the past 25 years, only two women have gone up for tenure in the department, and just one of them was promoted. In that same time period, 14 men went up for tenure, and 12 were promoted.
In the May report, the department requested the ability to conduct two faculty searches — one in gender politics and another in race and ethnicity — to help address what the committee saw as a lack of course offerings in these fields.
Frieden said that administrators had only granted them the ability to hire one junior faculty member. He said the department has worked to reach a diverse pool of applicants for the position.
“We placed expensive ads in places we don’t usually advertise in to get as wide a pool as possible,” Frieden said.
At the meeting, Government affiliates also shared concerns about the way in which office space is doled out to graduate students and faculty members. They specifically discussed hypothetical situations in which a department affiliate is uncomfortable with a shared office space arrangement.
Government professor Christina L. Davis said at the meeting that she wants to ensure there are procedures in place to address harassment or other misconduct.
“It needs to be clear that the office space is conditional on professional behavior,” Davis wrote in an email after the event. “In some cases, the Title IX office could help to address a concern raised by a student about conduct of another student in the shared space.”
—Staff writer Jonah S. Berger can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @jonahberger98.