In DepthSexual Harassment

Boston University geologist fights for his job

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Science  01 Dec 2017:
Vol. 358, Issue 6367, pp. 1114
DOI: 10.1126/science.358.6367.1114

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Summary

David Marchant, a Boston University (BU) geologist who faces termination after an investigation concluded that he sexually harassed a graduate student during fieldwork in Antarctica nearly 2 decades ago, appealed that finding this week. The appeal argues primarily that BU’s 13-month probe produced insufficient evidence to support its findings, according to Jeffrey Sankey, Marchant’s lawyer. The appeals process may take weeks, during which time Marchant will remain off campus on paid administrative leave. On 17 November, BU announced that by a preponderance of evidence Marchant sexually harassed then–graduate student Jane Willenbring by aiming repeated sexist slurs such as “slut” and “whore” at her, creating a hostile learning environment during the 1999–2000 field season in Antarctica. The BU investigators concluded that the account of Marchant’s verbal abuse offered by Willenbring, now a geologist at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in San Diego, California, was credible because several women reported similar sex-based slurs from Marchant in the field around this time. BU Provost Jean Morrison announced that Marchant’s violation of the university’s sexual misconduct policy is serious enough to warrant his termination if his appeal fails.