The Marcy situation has repercussions all across the university, and at universities all across the country. Here’s Ellen Simms take.
The greatest fury regarding the Geoff Marcy case has been directed against the university for protecting the predator at the expense of student safety and well-being. Despite a finding of sexual harassment, the university completely suppressed the outcome of the investigation. No effort was made to warn the students and postdocs in the astronomy department. They were left to be the canaries in the coal mine. Only if one of them complained would Marcy have experienced any repercussions for his decade or more of abuse. And, why would those women complain? Some had already complained and, seemingly, nothing had come of it. The only reason that this path was not followed is that someone leaked the report to BuzzFeed. It was from there that I, other Berkeley faculty and even the students involved in the investigation, learned of its outcome.
On Monday evening, most graduate students, postdoctoral researchers and faculty members of UC Berkeley’s astronomy department publicly condemned Marcy’s behavior and the administration’s handling of the case. Yet it seems clear that some faculty members had knowingly tolerated Marcy’s behavior for years. This episode clarifies that such cases cannot be investigated internally. The conflicts of interest are too great.
That’s a major problem: the institution wants problems like Marcy’s harassment of women kept silent, because they have an interest in preventing the stories from affecting their reputation and revenue stream. So potential victims are kept unaware, and all of the burden of reporting and standing up to the barrage of negativity that follows falls entirely on the shoulders of whistleblowers…who are often also victims of the predator.