Stanford: Sexual misconduct revelation exposes storied professor’s secret

Seventeen years in the past, Stanford University quietly suspended an American literature professor for sexual misconduct using a younger graduate student. Eight years later, it praised him as being a “leading figure” in his discipline and bought his unusual book assortment, now housed in the college library area bearing his title.

For Professor Jay Fliegelman, the private punishment would be but a blip inside of a celebrated career of a tenured professor who died at fifty eight in 2007.

But this month, just after an explosive collection of revelations within an online publication and on Facebook, his legacy – and an elite university’s job in advertising and marketing it – has long been tumbled upside down, exposing a darkish underside of how powerful school at private institutions can escape general public scorn.

Just after years of remaining silent although watching Fliegelman be heaped with praise from other academics who both didn’t understand what he’d carried out to her or were being blinded by his tutorial achievements, his victim, Seo-Young “Jennie” Chu, has gone general public and rocked the Stanford English Department.

Initial, Chu, now an English professor at Queens College in Big apple, thorough her traumatic encounter inside a gut-wrenching piece for the online journal Entropy in early November. Two months later, she posted an open letter on Fb, inquiring the head with the Stanford English Division, then an assistant professor and colleague of Fliegelman’s, why he’d stood by and enable it materialize. Finally, she demanded Stanford switch over its investigation into her mistreatment, something the college declined to perform.

When community universities this sort of as UC Berkeley are necessary under the state’s general public documents regulation to share sexual harassment findings from workforce, non-public universities like Stanford are not and frequently cite California work legislation and student privacy legislation as good reasons for refusing to launch these facts. But within an amazing private letter this week, summarizing Fliegelman’s circumstance, Stanford vp and typical counsel Debra Zumwalt apologized to Chu.

“On behalf of Stanford College, allow me to categorical how sorry I am that you’ve endured as a results of a school member’s misconduct,’’ Zumwalt wrote in a very letter that summarized the results from Fliegelman. “You did the appropriate detail by bringing this difficulty forward back in 2000, and we’re grateful for you for carrying out so.”

Stanford would not comment on the discrepancy between its non-public apology to Chu and its public laudatory comments about Fliegelman. But inside a note to your campus community this week, Stanford Provost Persis Drell acknowledged, “For significantly too extensive, perform that now we find abhorrent and unacceptable was in reality tolerated-in the workplace, in the classroom and on our campus. Specifically, personal associations concerning school members and students in their classes and labs were tolerated, and the probable harmful impact on pupils was ignored.”

Chu claimed she appreciated the “condolences” but referred to as on the college to perform additional. “I never did consider it absolutely was just in my head,” she informed this information corporation, “but the years of secrecy, it is toxic.”

As 1000s of girls share their tales of place of work sexual abuse while in the wake with the explosive allegations versus movie producer Harvey Weinstein, Chu is among the a escalating range of previous students stepping ahead to underscore the profound ability imbalance in academia, where heralded professors quietly wield major impact more than the trajectory of students’ lives.

“When he advised me that he controlled my potential, I enable myself think I’d no potential value imagining. (I should are brave and stood approximately him.),” Chu wrote in Entropy. “I still awaken from time to time to find my clothing drenched in sweat and my overall body numb, virtually numb.”

Chu, 39, accused Fliegelman of raping her while she was a graduate student at Stanford throughout the 1999-2000 school year, and he was a professor.

Within an e-mail, Stanford spokesman Ernest Miranda reported the school is restricted in what it can say about unique situations because of privacy rules but acknowledged Fliegelman experienced been disciplined for your misconduct.

But according to Zumwalt’s letter, Fliegelman “engaged in the sample of unwelcome verbal perform of a sexual nature, and engaged within an incident of bodily get hold of under conditions that were very inappropriate.”

Within a response to Zumwalt, Chu questioned why the summary didn’t include things like the word “rape.”

“I sadly remember him shoving his overall body into mine,” she wrote the college. “(I dislike the fact that I’d to kind these text.)”

Chu claimed Fliegelman also requested her to “stroke” pages of a scarce and antique pornographic reserve.

Based on the school’s results, according towards the report, the university suspended Fliegelman, barred him from the section for 2 years, levied a “significant economic sanction” from him, mandated that he go to sexual harassment counseling, and warned him that “any additional professional misconduct would direct to his probably dismissal from the university.”

But right after his dying in 2007, Stanford showered him with praise within a glowing obituary of a “gifted teacher,” and also the college senate stood in tribute, calling him a “treasured mate and devoted husband” within a memorial resolution. The university acquired his scarce guide assortment, now known as the Fliegelman library.

As well as the American Society for Eighteenth-Century Scientific studies named a mentorship award soon after him in 2009. The culture taken out his name in the award previous year – only soon after Chu arrived at out on the firm to tell her tale and ask for the award to get renamed. Not till this month – and Chu’s general public revelation – did it describe why.

Chu fled on the East Coastline immediately after the abuse to complete a Ph.D. application at Harvard that she’d meant to go after at Stanford and stopped likely by her American title “Jennie” because it introduced up painful memories on the abuse. She was, she claimed, “pretending to generally be a new man or woman.” To at the present time, she ongoing, “It’s tough for me individually to love being inside of a long-term romance or perhaps a short-term marriage.”

“I hope that my creating will illuminate the ache and concern which will outcome from sexual violence… Conversing overtly, severely, and respectfully about rape is hard function. Like other kinds of psychological labor, it truly is much too usually unacknowledged,” she wrote in an electronic mail.

Women’s legal rights advocates say that is all far too true. When the country seems to be far more inclined lately to believe gals who phase ahead, “we will not be seeing that kind of a parallel with student victims,” said Maha Ibrahim, a employees attorney with Equal Legal rights Advocates, a San Francisco-based non-profit.

Inside a Facebook concept posted just after the Entropy piece was posted, Chu accused then-assistant professor, now-department chair Alex Woloch of undertaking practically nothing to stop Fliegelman’s abuse. She said within an electronic mail that he witnessed Fliegelman berate her for sporting thick glasses as an alternative of contacts.

“How did you react? Did you are trying to intervene? No. You laughed and performed alongside,” she wrote in an open up letter to Woloch.

When arrived at by telephone, Woloch asked this news corporation to get in touch with him by e-mail as an alternative and hung up. He forwarded emailed questions to Miranda, who responded, “Prof. Woloch recalls only one celebration on which he was with Prof. Fliegelman and Ms. Chu and does not remember witnessing any behavior that was harassing. Prof. Woloch had no knowledge of an issue of sexual harassment until eventually he was later educated that an investigation was underway.”

Several other professors who presented glowing tributes after Fliegelman’s death but might have acknowledged about his suspension also didn’t reply to requests for remark regarding their former colleague.

When Chu just lately requested a replica of Stanford’s report about her circumstance, she was denied. Stanford, to be a conventional follow, provides victims with merely a summary of its findings and not full investigative studies. In the event the conclusion to suspend Fliegelman was attained back in 2000, she reported, she was notified by phone.

“There is a large amount of secrecy encompassing these conditions,” Chu mentioned by mobile phone. “I want to know what happened to me.”

Following Chu arrived forward this month, the Stanford Asian Pacific American Alumni Club wrote from the student journal Stanford Politics that its members ended up outraged on the “normalization that allowed these crimes to happen,” and termed on the university to become much more clear about when faculty who commit sexual violence return to educating.

That secrecy can allow for people in positions of electrical power to keep up that energy in the least costs, Ibrahim claimed, whether or not this means obscuring the reality.

And professors absolutely wield electricity around their students, which Fliegelman acknowledged within a 1996 job interview which was then cited in Stanford’s obituary: “There’s a great satisfaction in training freshmen because you are type of being folded into their lives in a certain, highly effective instant by which you’ll be able to generate a variance.”

Miranda stated the school has “created several additional avenues for our learners and members of our local community to report incidents of sexual misconduct” during the very last few years, and prohibited sexual interactions in between graduate learners and faculty members who oversee them.

Nonetheless Stanford regulation professor Michele Dauber, a vocal critic of Stanford’s sexual harassment guidelines, explained it’s not enough, particularly when personal educational institutions like Stanford work largely without being subject to your community scrutiny general public educational facilities like Cal confront.

Moms and dads and learners “have no method to find out what on earth is going on at Stanford because it’s supposedly private,” Dauber reported, declaring the school receives considerable general public funding from the variety of grants and financial loans. “We have gotten to own some transparency.”