It has been reported that more than 100 students at prestigious Harvard University left an anthropology class on January 25 in protest of the professor, who was accused of forcibly kissing and groping students in 2022. Dr. John Comaroff was a leading authority on South Africa and a Harvard professor of anthropology when he was accused of sexual misconduct, including the threat of rape, by a number of his former graduate students.
The lecturer was placed on unpaid leave by the university in January 2022 while an internal inquiry was carried out, but in spite of the criticism and worries of the students, he returned to the classroom for the Fall 2022 semester. The university’s choice to let Dr. Comaroff return on campus infuriated anthropology students even a year after the lecturer was put on unpaid leave. The anthropology professor was being sued by three former graduate students who accused him of sexual misconduct prior to the walk-out over his Fall 2022 return.
According to the lawsuit, the professor “kissed and touched students without their consent, made unwanted sexual approaches, and threatened to damage students’ careers if they reported,” according to the plaintiffs. The case claimed that Harvard purposefully disregarded the charges made by students against the tenured professor and was backed by Title IX grounds under the US Department of Justice.
In their case, the plaintiffs claimed that the lecturer had made their lives a “continuous nightmare.” In one allegation, a student claimed that the professor had kissed and touched the student inappropriately. The student also claimed that Dr. Comaroff warned her that bringing her lover on research in Africa would result in “corrective rape.”
An attorney for the professor told the Daily Mail that his client “categorically denies ever harassing or retaliating against any student.” Several student organizations at the university organized protests in response to his campus return.
“John Comaroff has spent his career silencing and retaliating against students — thereby undermining Harvard’s value of creating an equitable, safe learning environment for all,” student Rosie Couture said of the protest. “For the good of the university community and Harvard’s academic mission, it’s past time for Harvard to act.”
– Steve Sijenyi