CAMBRIDGE (CBS) – In the halls of what some consider the country’s most prestigious academic institution, a young graduate student says she’s dodging a predator. “There are times I see this person outside of the department and one time, like, I went and threw up.” The woman spoke to the I-Team’s Christina Hager but she did not want to be identified.
She is one of more than 4,000 Harvard students who work, often within their departments of study, under some of the greatest minds in their fields. But this woman says one of the supervisors in her office has spent years stalking, and even touching her.
Graduate Student: “He has put his hands up and down my clothes.”
Christina Hager: “So, he was kind of seeking you out at times when you were alone?”
Graduate Student: “Yes. He always knew where I was in that building. I cried.”
Christina Hager: “Did that stop him?”
Graduate Student: “No.”
The labor union for Harvard student employees has been pressing Harvard for a better way to report abuse. A Title IX report found sexual harassment complaints jumped more than 50% at Harvard from 2017-2018, but students say many complaints still go unreported.
Jorge Dominguez was held up as an academic giant in Harvard’s Government Department, and beyond. That is, until 18 women went public with accusations against him. Dominguez was stripped of his professor title and banned from campus in May. A Title IX investigation found he “engaged in unwelcome sexual conduct” over “nearly four decades.”
Harvard declined our request for an on-camera interview, but has tapped an independent investigator to look into what’s stopping people from reporting misconduct, and what can be done about it. “This stuff has been happening for a long time,” said Harvard graduate student, Erik Baker. Baker is on the bargaining committee for the union, which is asking that students be able to report harassment to someone who’s not affiliated with Harvard. “The existing in-house system has been shown to be inadequate,” he said. “Students don’t trust it.”
The graduate student who shared her allegations with Christina Hager, said she can’t afford to report her harasser.
Graduate Student: “There’s a real chance that me going forward with this could affect my career.”
Christina Hager: “So, you’re still kind of dodging and looking over your shoulder?”
Graduate Student: “Yeah. Yeah. I actually cannot leave this job. I would love to leave this job, but it would make it impossible for me to live in Cambridge and it would make it really hard for me, I think, to continue my studies.”
So far, Harvard is refusing the union’s request for a way to report complaints to someone not affiliated with the school. Harvard says it “would place many of the complainants and respondents face-to-face in an adversarial arbitration…” The union, on the other hand, insists the accuser would always have the right to be separated for privacy.