12 October 2015
Dear Interim Department Chair Gibor Basri and Astronomy Faculty:
Many of us in the department were shocked and appalled to read the BuzzFeed articleabout Prof. Geoff Marcy's record of harassment. We are likewise dismayed by the response of our University and department to his behavior and the results of the Title IX investigation. As postdoctoral scholars and staff researchers associated with the UC Berkeley Astronomy Department, we wish to express our dissatisfaction with both the communication and the outcome of this investigation via the following statements:
1) We find it unacceptable that so many members of the department did not learn about Prof. Marcy's record of behavior and the results of the investigation from the department, but rather via online news platforms. In any circumstance, junior members of the department would hope for and expect transparency regarding a Title IX investigation concerning a serial sexual harasser in the department. Given the discussions only last spring about sexual harassment and department climate, it is unfathomable to us that the results of this investigation were not communicated swiftly and openly.
Furthermore, the response emailed to the department by the interim chair on Friday was not only far too late, but also emphasized Prof. Marcy's experience of this situation without even mentioning the women he targeted. Combined with the lack of transparency from the department and the lengthy record of Prof. Marcy's behavior documented in the BuzzFeed article, it is difficult for us to believe that the department has been or is now prioritizing the safety of its junior members.
2) Based on the statements of our colleagues in the BuzzFeed article, the department and University have purposefully ignored reports of Prof. Marcy's harassment for far too long, and we find the consequences of the Title IX investigation to be woefully inadequate.
We believe that Prof. Marcy's behavior, as reported in the article, cannot be excused or tolerated. On the basis of his demonstrated violations, we believe that the department and University should disassociate themselves from Prof. Marcy in order to protect the well-being of department members and set a clear precedent for future cases of harassment. We recognize that the department does not control all aspects of his appointment, but we strongly suggest that the department act toward this end to the fullest extent appointed to its authority (including removing him from teaching responsibilities).
Furthermore, based on the information we currently have, we hope that the faculty and chair will advocate for the University to terminate its relationship with Prof. Marcy with appropriate speed, with priority given to the welfare of his current and former students and other researchers who depend on him for funding. 3) We believe that UC Berkeley and the Astronomy Department must transform their policies and practices toward sexual harassment.
The first step we suggest would be public statements by the department and University that affirm the bravery and strength of the complainants and condemn Prof. Marcy’s behavior. It is enormously difficult for people who experience or witness sexual harassment to report it — particularly when involving a senior colleague — and we are fortunate to benefit from the courage of these reporters.
The second step would be implementing and expanding the recommendations of the climate survey that culminated in May 2015. We postdoctoral and staff researchers are currently unable to identify any substantive changes to department practice that have occurred based on that report; such changes must be applied and publicized as quickly as possible. Lacking these actions, the department and University will in effect be affirming the fears of those who hesitate to speak up against harassment in the future.
Most of all, we wish to affirm our support for the people affected by Prof. Marcy’s behavior, particularly current and former students of the Astronomy department. In our communication, and especially in our action, we urge the department chair and faculty to prioritize the protection and support of students, while holding all members of the department to the "highest standards of ethical conduct" described in the University policy statements on sexual harassment and ethics.
Sincerely, the undersigned: 27 names and 5 anonymous supporters