Harvard issues its decision on Gary Urton and the charges of sexual misconduct. He was found guilty. Oh, if they only knew it all. I think they have chosen not to. I suggest reading Becky Cooper’s book, We Keep the Dead Close, for more about this despicable man.
Dear members of the Anthropology Department, Dumbarton Oaks, and Peabody Museum colleagues,
I am writing to inform you of upcoming changes within the Department of Anthropology that will occur as a result of disciplinary actions being taken regarding Dr. Gary Urton. As these changes directly impact the members of the Department, Dumbarton Oaks, and the Peabody Museum, I describe them here, as well as the findings that motivated them.
The Office for Dispute Resolution (ODR) recently completed a thorough and careful review of formal allegations made against Dr. Urton and concluded that he engaged in unwelcome sexual conduct and abused power with individuals over whom he had professional responsibility. Additionally, he engaged in persistent sexual harassment of a member of the community, interfering with that individual’s ability to engage in FAS educational programs and activities. Moreover, ODR found that Dr. Urton provided materially misleading information in the course of its investigation, conduct that had the potential of subverting the integrity of the University’s investigatory processes. The ODR review documented behavior that was in violation of FAS policies on sexual harassment, sexual misconduct, and unprofessional conduct. In short, Dr. Urton exhibited a pattern of behavior that betrayed the trust of our community and violated our fundamental institutional values.
Given the gravity of these findings, the following sanctions have been levied against Dr. Urton:
As of June 10, 2021, Dr. Urton has been stripped of his emeritus appointment.
All rights and privileges customarily conferred by the FAS on faculty who hold emeritus appointments, as listed in the FAS Appointment and Promotion Handbook, have been revoked, including:
- He may not hold the title of emeritus Professor or Research Professor
- He may not teach any undergraduate students or GSAS students
- He may not advise any GSAS graduate students
- He will not have any Library privileges
- He will not have a Harvard email address or access to IT services through the FAS
- He will not have any office space within the FAS
- He will not be allowed to raise funds through the FAS, nor will he have any access to any research funding through the FAS
- He will not have access to any administrative support
- He will not be allowed to attend FAS Faculty Meetings as a guest or in any other capacity
- And he will not receive any FAS mailings to the community.
Dr. Urton is no longer welcome on any part of the FAS campus or to attend any FAS-sponsored events held off campus. In addition, the President has agreed to place the same sanction on the entire Harvard campus and on all Harvard-sponsored events.
The sanctions described above are proportionate to the severity of the behavior observed and seek to uphold and further our shared community standards and the safe, fair, and respectful environment necessary to promote academic excellence. I remind all members of our community that if you witness or experience sexual or gender-based harassment, there are many resources available, including the FAS Title IX Coordinators, the University Office for Gender Equity, Harvard University Counseling and Mental Health Services, the Harvard Chaplains, and the Employee Assistance Program.
Edgerley Family Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences
There is so much going on in this world. My heart goes out to everyone who has lost a loved one to COVID. I am also simultaneously struggling to do justice to the women who have reached out to me to describe their experiences with campus sexual assault and harassment, and the the Offices of Dispute Resolution to which they are remanded. ODR? Sounds neutral and perhaps promising. Not so fast. I have had two women relate their experiences. One found the experience of meeting with ODR staff so traumatic that she withdrew her complaint due to suicidal ideation. The ODR staffed “grilled” her in an adversarial manner that was so abrasive that she felt re-violated and withdrew her complaint. The second woman was asked about her sexual history—years prior to her complaint about a sexually harassing professor — and was so ill afterwards that she withdrew her complaint to focus on her health and that of her husband. Will gender justice be delayed by COVID? We know that rates of interpersonal and domestic violence have spiked; has the remote learning environment ironically meant a reprieve from professorial harassment because students are off-site? If recovery from COVID means “rebuilding better,” then perhaps we can address the issue of campus sexual assault and harassment as part of a broader spectrum of gender-based violence that grinds female students down…and out. So many #missingwomen in our classes, on our campuses, in the people we count as colleagues in our universities.
Cooper quotes a former anthropology associate professor, Kimberly Theidon, who’d sued Harvard in 2014 for failing to give her tenure because of her gender and her “outspoken advocacy” for victims of sexual assault:
On college campuses nation- wide, senior professors—frequently male—wield tremendous power over their students and junior colleagues…. These gatekeepers operate with virtual impunity, administering silences, humiliation, and career-ending decisions. The black box of tenure, lacking transparency, is precisely how silencing and impunity work to the disadvantage of those who would speak up and unsettle the status quo.
Here is a quick look at recent coverage of sexual harassment allegations in the Anthropology Department, Harvard University:
I woke up to a message from a colleague, asking for advice and expressing her outrage. She recently learned that a former student, who had studied for her Masters Degree under my colleague’s supervision, has been driven out of her PhD program due to a sexually harassing professor. What to do? I offered the standard package of advice, knowing this young woman will most likely go quietly for fear of retaliation and career-ending retribution if she reports this professor. All of which leads me to consider #TheMissingWomen. From the actresses who left the film industry due to Harvey Weinstein; the musicians/composers/singers run out and ruined by Russell Simmons; the hostesses/servers/sous-chefs who gritted their teeth and let their pot of rage simmer on low; the hotel maids who escaped groping guests; to the young women who leave academia to avoid sexually harassing professors whose power over them makes or breaks careers — how can we begin to measure the missing women who leave their careers of choice (or necessity) because they have been ground down, groped, sexually harassed and driven out? This is about sexual assault and harassment, to be sure. It is about the violation of bodily integrity and personal dignity, with equal certainty. It is also about the loss of employment, career aspirations, dreams and economic security. How can we begin to measure the economic fallout for #TheMissingWomen?