Harvard students stage walkout in front of professor accused of sexual harassment
Over 100 students marched out of a Harvard classroom on Tuesday to protest the first lecture of professor John L. Comaroff this year.
Comaroff, who teaches African and African American Studies at Harvard University, was found to have violated the school’s sexual harassment and professional conduct policies after two internal investigations last year.
In February 2022, three anthropology graduate students — Margaret G. Czerwienski, Lilia M. Kilburn and Amulya Mandava — sued the school for allegedly ignoring complaints filed by victims against Comaroff over the years.
One of the plaintiffs alleged that Comaroff kissed her multiple times without her consent and groped her in public.
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The lawsuit, which remains ongoing, stated that the professor allegedly threatened the students’ academic careers if they reported him.
“When students reported him to Harvard and sought to warn their peers about him, Harvard watched as he retaliated by foreclosing career paths and ensuring that those students would have ’trouble getting jobs,’” read the complaint.
It further alleged that the university “allowed its investigatory process to be used in service of Professor Comaroff’s campaign of professional blacklisting.”
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The complaint noted that the professor and the school “destroyed the educational opportunities and careers of countless students.”
Protesting Comaroff’s first lecture of the year, students posted signs on the walls outside of the building where he teaches, reported The Harvard Crimson.
The signs included statements such as “Abusers have no place on campus” and “Stop protecting sexual predators.”
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The protest, organized by members of the Harvard Graduate Student Union-United Auto Workers’ Feminist Working Group and Our Harvard Can Do Better, involved students flooding Comaroff’s classroom before his class.
As soon as Comaroff began his lecture, students rose up from their seats and started chanting, “Justice for survivors,” and “No more Comaroff, no more complicity,” while walking out.
Comaroff reportedly smiled and nodded at the protesters as the students made their way out of the classroom.
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A video clip showing the students as they marched out of the classroom was posted on Twitter by student Rosie Couture.
Watch the moment 100+ @Harvard students walked out of John Comaroff’s classroom, a current professor and known sexual abuser.
We demand Comaroff resigns & @Harvard ends their complicity in sexual abuse and misogyny on campus. #WalkoutOnComaroff @OurHarvard pic.twitter.com/t38Blxfm2B
— Rosie Couture ☂️ (@rosiecouturee) January 25, 2023
Comaroff’s students conducted a similar protest when he first returned to teaching in the fall 2022 semester after he completed his unpaid administrative leave.