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Harvard Accused Of Retaliating Against Professor Who Defended Sexual Assault Survivors

Stashed in: Sexism, Harvard

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An accomplished professor claims she was denied tenure by Harvard University and will lose her job there due to her advocacy for victims of sexual violence who were critical of the Ivy League school's handling of their cases.Dr. Kimberly Theidon, an anthropologist whose work inspired the Oscar-nominated 2009 film "The Milk of Sorrow," filed a complaint against Harvard on March 24 with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination. 

Coming at a time when Harvard is trying to repair its reputation:

Theidon's employment complaint against Harvard was filed just a week before a group of sexual assault survivors submitted a separate Title IX complaint to the U.S. Department of Education, alleging that Harvard College systematically mishandled reports of sexual assault and harassment under the gender equity law Title IX. Each of the survivors in the Title IX complaint asked to remain anonymous for fear of retaliation.

Theidon's allegations follow a series of high-profile public relations challenges for the Cambridge institution, including an aggressive effort by the Harvard Business Schoolto make amends for perceived sexism, and an ongoing federal investigation of Harvard Law School's response to sexual assault and harassment. The news last year that administrators had secretly searched staff emails for media leaks was also met with outrage.

Harvard spokesman Jeff Neal said the university would not comment on pending legal cases, but that it is committed to "the principle of gender equity."

"To ensure the University's continued preeminence in scholarship and teaching, Harvard maintains an extremely high bar for promotion, particularly promotion to a tenured position, which carries a lifetime appointment," Neal said. "Because a leading research university is only as good as its faculty and students, maintaining the excellence of both groups is an important priority."

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