Three Yale seniors sent e-mails asking current and former female students of Humanities and English professor Harold Bloom if he had ever sexually harassed them, Yale spokeswoman Helaine Klasky said Wednesday.
The e-mails came in the wake of a controversial week for Bloom that began with Monday’s publication of a New York Magazine article by Naomi Wolf ’84, in which she accused Bloom of sexually harassing her while he was her independent study advisor in 1983.
Klasky said the e-mail to Bloom’s students was an “unfair” action to take.
“Yale takes sexual harassment very seriously and has clear and robust policies and procedures in place,” Klasky said in an e-mail. “If any students [feel] that — inappropriate behavior has taken place, [he or she] should not hesitate to talk to someone on the grievance board, in the Dean’s office or in [his or her] residential college. To send a blast e-mail implying that wrongdoing has taken place is simply unfair and is reminiscent of a witch-hunt.”
Bloom declined to comment for this article.
Erin Birdsong ’05, who is currently enrolled in one of Bloom’s courses, said she did not receive the e-mail. But Birdsong said Bloom mentioned the e-mail in class Wednesday.
“He said in class he assumed most of us had gotten [the e-mail],” Birdsong said.
At press time, the News had not yet obtained the names of the students who sent the e-mail.
In her article, Wolf said Bloom was not “a bad man,” but she said the current framework at Yale for handling complaints of sexual harassment was inadequate.
“This man [Bloom] did something, at least once, that was self-centered and harmful,” Wolf said in the article. “But his harmful impulse would not have entered his or my real life — then or now — if Yale made the consequences of such behavior both clear and real.”
Tala Gharagozlou ’06, who took Bloom’s class last semester, said she does not think he is the type of person who would sexually harass a student.
“He has a tendency to call everybody sweetheart, but no sexual connotations in any way,” Gharagozlou said. “He seemed more like he cares a lot about his students.”
Bloom is a world-renowned scholar of Shakespeare, Chaucer and Milton. He has written over 20 books, including “Shakespeare: The Invention of the Human” and “How to Read and Why.”