In the context of today’s news from Dean Gay about sanctions against Jorge Dominguez, I am writing with several reactions. Most importantly, I hope that these actions can bring relief to the survivors and others affected by this case. Perhaps full closure from a traumatic experience is not possible, but today’s announcement and decision will, I hope, go a long way to overcoming pain and damage.
Next, I want to continue our conversation about how we can build a safer, more inclusive, and more engaging environment. Thanks to all of you, and especially the Gov Department’s Committee on Climate Change (CCC), for your thoughtful work in enabling us to understand and strengthen our community both institutionally and culturally. I am humbled by the incredible engagement of our faculty, staff, undergraduates, and graduate students in pursuit of our shared goals.
As you know, students, faculty, and the CCC have consistently called for an external review to evaluate how departmental, FAS, and university-wide procedures, practices, and norms may have contributed to our collective failure to provide a safe and productive work environment. President Bacow confirmed this morning that the University will initiate this review, now that the Dominguez Title IX investigation has concluded. The review will focus on the three central questions included in the CCC’s report, specifically:
- What characteristics of our organization or culture might have inhibited (or more generally inhibit) those who have experienced (or who are aware of) misconduct from reporting it?
- When misconduct is reported, are there impediments to an effective response?
- How can the University ensure that promotional decisions are made with a proper understanding of reports or allegations of misconduct?
This review is a significant step forward; it will be important in enabling the University, FAS, and the Gov Department to achieve our goal of a safe, inclusive, and productive work environment.
At the same time, as you also know, the Gov Department is working hard on enhancing and democratizing our own internal culture and practices. The faculty will soon discuss and vote on the many recommendations in the CCC’s final report of May 8– and that work will continue. I call on all of us to maintain our commitment to ensuring that the Harvard Gov Department is a model for how to build an inclusive community that enables all members to pursue scholarly and teaching excellence.
Finally, I want to remind you of the resources available should you experience or witness sexual or gender-based harassment. They include the FAS Title IX Coordinators, the University Title IX Office, the Office of Sexual Assault Prevention and Response, Harvard University Counseling and Mental Health Services, the Harvard Chaplains, and the Employee Assistance Program.
While I am traveling until Sunday, I am available by email or phone (617-610-6719) should you want to speak with me directly.
Henry LaBarre Jayne Professor of Government, and
Professor of African and African American Studies
Chair, Department of Government