Professor accused of harassment

A faculty member in the Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations department has been accused of sexual harassment, according to a Yale Police Department report filed April 8.

The accusation will likely be handled internally by Yale Graduate School administrators, YPD spokesman Sgt. Steven Woznyk told the News on Tuesday. The YPD and the Graduate School have agreed to try to resolve the harassment complaint without formal police action, Woznyk said. Despite the confirmation of the report, administrators within the department and Graduate School remain tight-lipped, and the accused faculty member — whose name the News is withholding because no formal charges have been filed and no finding has been made by the University — denied the accusation to the News.

Currently, the case is dependant on the “perceptions of different actions,” and the YPD is gathering information to help the Graduate School make a decision, Woznyk said.

“We certainly took the report, but now we’re just trying to work with the school,” he said. “Hopefully … [the Graduate School is] going to come up with some kind of a quick resolution.”

Woznyk said he had strong reasons to believe that no criminal charges would be pressed regarding the incident.

Graduate School Dean John Butler declined to comment for this article, as did the Chair of the NELC department, John Darnell.

“I’m afraid I really can’t say anything,” Darnell said in a phone interview Friday.

In a phone interview Tuesday morning, the faculty member accused of harassment denied the allegations and knowledge of the alleged incident.

“You are incorrect,” the faculty member said. “If I were harassing someone, I would know.”

The faculty member did not respond to an e-mail requesting comment — which included the information that the YPD is involved in the case — later Tuesday morning.

An insider with knowledge of the case working in the NELC department said the faculty member asked a lector to purchase cigarettes from Walgreens and bring them to the faculty member’s residence. The professor then refused to pay back the lector, the insider said.

“There was a condition for [the lector] to pick up the check,” the insider continued.

The lector rejected the condition and left the residence immediately, the insider said, and the nature of this situation made the lector very uncomfortable.

The faculty member returned to the NELC department on Tuesday, April 8 — the day the case was filed with the YPD. According to the insider, the faculty member called the lector into the hallway at the beginning of a class the lector was teaching and proceeded to yell at the lector in the hallway, insisting that the lector take the money for the cigarettes.

“Everybody was uncomfortable,” the insider said. “All the students were scared because of the way [the faculty member] was talking and the way [the faculty member] was making noise in the hallway.”

There were roughly 20 students in the classroom at the time of the incident. A student in the class confirmed the information relayed by the insider, which was shared with the class on Thursday.

The insider said the loud conversation outside the classroom hinged on discussion of the cigarettes and the money.

“Everybody was wondering what happened,” the insider said.

Graduate School administrators did not inform the News of any timeframe for their decision-making process.

—Bharat Ayyar contributed reporting.


  • P

    …ummm and this is sexual harassment, how?

  • heartsurgeon

    Why would a Prof. ask someone to buy him some smokes??

    Why would someone go "fetch" some smokes for a Prof.?

    This is very strange, and key details in this strange tale are missing….

    some smells funny in Denmark….

  • Old Blue '73

    An enticing tease of a story, which will and probably should be handled internally and privately. I'm curious, though. What kind of prof yells at a subordinate (lector?) about who buys the cigarettes? What kind of person goes to the police instead of the department chair over being inappropriately yelled at or being stiffed for a pack of cigarettes? The lead line suggests a sexual harassment but the report suggests garden variety (though odd) verbal abuse.

    Perhaps this is another example of Sayre’s Law: “In any dispute the intensity of feeling is inversely proportional to the value of the stakes at issue—that is why academic politics are so bitter.”

  • Helping the Retards

    #1 & #2,

    The ability to infer is the hallmark of a Yale education. Obviously the YDN can't publish the details prematurely.

  • Been there

    Ah, faculty behaving badly. Nothing new there. With no consequences to modify their behavior, little opportunity or incentive to learn appropriate work place behavior and apparently insufficient manners to constrain their conduct, faculty frequently abuse the (petty)power that comes with their position. They act as if the rules don't apply to them and no one tells them otherwise. The staff put up with a lot of abuse from the faculty at this university, make no mistake. Every administrator has stories of being shouted at, of extreme rudeness, of total disregard for the rules, of demands for personal errands and breathtaking arrogance. The administrative structure which puts people with very poor management skills and no training or experience in charge of managing or supervising staff simply because of an expertise in an academic field is nonsensical, ineffective and costly. All this transfers to the next generation of professors when they are graduate students and the cycle continues. It is a dirty little secret that is so normal it doesn't raise an eyebrow.

  • Old Blue '73

    I wasn't criticizing YDN and I don't think #1 was either. I was even suggesting that the rest of the story might not be something either side would want to publish or that the Yale Community needs to know (except if and when it is resolved), despite my curiosity.