An internal review of faculty behavior at the University of California, Berkeley, has concluded that the vast majority of male faculty and administrators do not sexually harass students. The study, conducted following the revelation that renowned astronomer Geoff Marcy had been repeatedly sexually harassing female students over the course of 10 years, determined most faculty are “good people, who just knowingly allow a minority of their colleagues to repeatedly harass female faculty and students over the course of decades.”
“It is comforting to know that most male professors and administrators will never engage in sexual harassment of coworkers and graduate students,” said Sociology of Science Researcher, and head of the internal review board, Berta Engle. “Rather, they will just use their positions in oversight committees, review boards, and administration to protect male acquaintances from accusations about deeply hurting women.”
Marcy’s sexual harassment involved at least four victims, and was a well-known secret in the field of astronomy. It was brought to light after Aaron Parsons, an untenured Berkeley faculty member, decided to issue a complaint after learning about Marcy’s reputation.
Parson’s actions were later applauded by many in the UC Berkeley Astronomy Department, and many joined in condemning Marcy, including those brave men in the department that had known about the problem in great detail for years and done absolutely nothing to stop it.
“I’m deeply against what Geoff has done. It was so hard for me to stand by, taking no action to report or prevent his behavior, disgusted at his treatment of female grad students, for the last decade. I don’t think you can imagine how hard it was on me,” said UC Berkeley professor and personal friend of Marcy, Marc Gilmore.
“I’m not sure what we could have done to stop him through the proper channels,” said Interim Department Chair of Astronomy, Gibor Marsi, who at no point ever sat Marcy down and told him, “Listen, Marcy, damn the official channels, if I ever hear of you harassing another student, I will drop whatever it is I’m doing, find you, and break your fucking nose.”
Other research prior to the UC Berkeley Internal Review has pointed to a culture of misogyny, which drives the sexual harassment and diminishment of women in academia. However, this prior research was quickly and subconsciously discounted by many male academics after they discovered it was done by women.
“I really don’t want to call Parsons a hero for reporting Marcy’s behavior. What he did was definitely good, but it seems like it should be a pretty basic expression of human decency? However, after witnessing his colleagues’ surprise towards his actions, it apparently wasn’t. So I think I have to call Parsons a hero,” said UC Berkeley Feminist Studies Researcher Adriana Clarksdale.
Many have criticized UC Berkeley’s lack of response to Marcy’s predation and reputation. Little administrative action was taken to address Marcy’s behavior, or prevent his victimization of students, which not only hurt the individuals involved, but also drove talented women out of astronomy and even academia as a whole.
In this most recent controversy, Berkeley elected only to restrict Marcy’s ability to make physical contact with students outside of handshakes, and was willing to keep him on staff. Many defend the university’s actions, citing the need for personal responsibility.
“I think that the University of Collusion, Berkeley has been treated profoundly unfairly for the actions of single individuals,” said Psychology Professor Greg Adams. “Wait, no, I meant California! University of California. Wow, Freudian. I mean not Freudian. I mean, Freud’s work has largely been discredited.”
Written by: Riley Mallory