Higher ed

Sexual harassment claims in rarefied astronomy field reach Congress

University of Wyoming

California Congresswoman Jackie Speier is calling on the Department of Education and Congress to examine policies requiring universities to disclose the disciplinary conduct of professors in reaction to a long-simmering controversy over sexual harassment within the U.S. scientific community.

In a letter sent to the DOE Monday and a speech to the House of Representatives Tuesday, Speier called to the case of Timothy Frederick Slater, a highly-regarded astronomer and astronomy professor who left the University of Arizona in 2004 after the school found that he had been regularly harassing students, including giving them sex toys as gifts, making remarks about their underwear and breasts, and having business meetings at a strip club. But Slater went on to land an endowed position at the University of Wyoming, leading others in the field and, eventually, Speier, to wonder whether his new employer knew about Slater’s history before offering him the job.  The case follows revelations of misconduct by other top scientists last year and in early 2016.

“The Slater case, while lurid, is just a symptom of a much larger problem — how to prevent harassment, and effectively deal with it when it occurs,” Speier said in her letter. The Congresswoman said she hopes to introduce legislation requiring schools to share disciplinary information.

Read the full story at Mashable.

Correction: An earlier version of this article misstated Slater’s employer. He is currently employed by University of Wyoming, not University of Montana.

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