Theres been another development in the story of BethAnn McLaughlin. To recap: she’s a neuroscientist at Vanderbilt who also has a reputation for activism for women’s rights in science. She was up for tenure, which she was initially awarded, and then, in a peculiar maneuver, suddenly a second committee was convened to revoke tenure, something I’d never heard of being done before.
The shocking new development is that a member of the second committee was abruptly placed on leave a few months ago. Why? Because he’s accused of assaulting a graduate student! Furthermore, Vanderbilt had been sitting on this accusation for almost a year before deciding they needed to take action.
As of August this year, Vanderbilt University neuroscientist David Sweatt has been on leave while the university looks into allegations that he drugged and sexually assaulted a student at a conference, according to documents obtained by Buzzfeed News and published in a report yesterday (October 31). The school initially became aware of the accusations nearly a year before, in September 2017, but determined there were no grounds for action at the time.
“Nauseous in my kitchen reading this. Vanderbilt knew for 11 months Sweatt was dangerous and did nothing,” climate scientist Sarah Myhre at the University of Washington writes in a tweet about the Buzzfeed article yesterday. “Students and trainees – like lambs to slaughter,” she continues.
It was a tweet by Myrhe from August describing the allegations that prompted Vanderbilt to suspend Sweatt, Buzzfeed reports.
Here’s that tweet:
Hello NIH Director.
Do you know that Dr. David Sweatt, the "gifted painter" you are lauding here, has been accused of drugging and raping a student?
We birds have whisper networks. And when we fall, it's like a rock.
We are all watching you. Please do better. https://t.co/ODfryFSrO9
— Dr. Sarah Myhre 😻 (@SarahEMyhre) August 9, 2018
One has to wonder how this guy continued to get on committees that decided women’s fates while under this cloud of suspicion. I think there must be an Old Guys’ Network that gets activated when their privilege is threatened, and all we have to counter it is a Whisper Network.