Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Sexual Harassment in the Study of Latin American Politics

Academia is buzzing with this story in the Chronicle of Higher Education about how Terry Karl was sexually harassed by Jorge Dominguez at Harvard when she was a new professor and he was an established name in the field. It is disgusting to read, both for what he did and for how Harvard did so little.

A former graduate student says she knew, was warned, and warned others. Rest assured that more of such comments will be forthcoming, likely many more because Dominguez has been at Harvard for decades.

These are huge names in my field and I am glad this is getting attention because it should have a positive ripple effect, even if far too late in coming. Of course, you also think about how many similar situations have played out in colleges and universities that fall under the radar and don't get this kind of attention. There are lots of brooms sweeping lots under rugs.

Update 3/5/18: Oh yes, many more women are being forthcoming and now he is on leave.

Update 3/6/18: Now he's retiring. And a bit later in the day the Latin American Studies Association, of which he was once president, issued a statement denouncing him:

The Latin American Studies Association (LASA) recognizes that sexual and gender-based harassment and violence are contrary to its core principles and therefore has zero tolerance for unwelcome sexual advances or conduct of a sexual nature that is intimidating, hostile, or offensive. 
LASA is a diverse organization currently of 16,000 members in up to 90 countries that has been historically committed to equal opportunity, respect for human rights, and the promotion of environments free of discrimination and all forms of coercion and abuse of power that impede the academic freedom, security, or well-being of any member of its community and their associated institutions. 
Over the past four days we have heard about old and new serious sexual harassment complaints against Jorge Domínguez, a professor at Harvard University, who was President of our association in 1982 – 1983. Such behavior has no place in our organization. If harassment occurs within an organization, there must be a reliable and effective channel to make complaints and the authorities must apply public sanctions to the transgressors. We therefore urge the authorities of Harvard University to investigate the new complaints and to act accordingly. 
Most importantly, we extend our solidarity to all who are survivors of Jorge Dominguez’s unacceptable conduct and its apparent long-term tolerance by Harvard University. 
Given the circumstances, the LASA Executive Council considers this as an ideal opportunity to recommit LASA as an association to stand up against all kinds of abuse of power and impunity, both in the political and academic spheres, and throughout all the Americas. And LASA emphasizes its policy of zero tolerance of sexual harassment and impunity. The association is taking a series of measures, including creating a task force, that will be shortly announced to the membership and the broader public to ensure that in the future individuals who engage in such reprehensible behavior will have no place in leadership positions at LASA.


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