Breaking: Boston University concludes geologist sexually harassed student
Boston University (BU) has found that geologist David Marchant sexually harassed his former graduate student, Jane Willenbring, when they were working at an isolated field camp in Antarctica in 1999 and 2000, when Willenbring was 22 years old.
“We have concluded by a preponderance of the evidence that Dr. [David] Marchant engaged in sexual harassment in violation of Boston University’s Sexual Harassment Policy … by directing derogatory and sex-based slurs and sexual comments at you during the 1999-2000 field expedition to Antarctica,” Kim Randall, the executive director of BU’s Equal Opportunity Office, wrote to Willenbring in a 16 November letter obtained by ScienceInsider. “We further conclude that this conduct was sufficiently severe and pervasive so as to create a hostile learning and living environment at the camp.”
But Randall wrote that university officials “did not find credible evidence to support the remaining allegations regarding Dr. Marchant’s behavior.”
Willenbring, now an associate professor at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in San Diego, California, had alleged, in a lengthy complaint filed with BU in October 2016, and reported on by Science last month, that Marchant also physically harassed her, throwing stones at her while she was urinating, blowing volcanic ash in her eyes, and pushing her down a steep, rocky slope several times. She also alleged that Marchant threatened to ruin her career if she failed to write a positive recommendation for his tenure and promotion file.
BU’s policy defines sexual harassment as “unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature that has the effect of creating a hostile or stressful living, learning, or working environment.”
A document containing the findings of BU’s 13-month investigation into Willenbring’s allegations has been sent to Ann Cudd, the university’s dean of arts and sciences, and to Provost Jean Morrison. The decision as to what disciplinary action is to be taken is Cudd’s to make, according to sources.
We will be updating this story.