Testimony #4

“I’m a graduate student, (one with medical disabilities, and we are also massively discriminated against) and while my experience pales in comparison to survivors of assault, I went through a very disturbing situation with Title IX and the Dean of the Faculty’s office this past fall after I was finally able to report that my advisor had been forcing me to date her son who was simultaneously harassing me on the internet. Among other actions that completely terrified me over the course of six months, they were both sending me photos of him and he was even planning vacations for us– this was after I met him exactly twice, I am not kidding. 

When I tried cutting off contact my professor would become hostile towards me and when I directly confronted the son last summer to stop the online sexual harassment, she first screamed at me on the phone the following day and then called me into her office the first week of classes and threatened my career, telling me I was unfit for academia, wasn’t mentally strong enough, and needed to “rethink”, “reconsider”, and “reevaluate” my future. This situation was the epitome of my worst nightmare and profoundly traumatizing on multiple levels, and it truly damaged me emotionally, mentally, and physically as the stress exacerbated my chronic health issues. However, there is nothing in any rules or regulations under sexual misconduct or faculty misconduct that says you can’t force your kid on a student. [So], what do you know, within about five hours of my more than hour-long interview with Regan Crotty, Michele Minter determined without explanation that nope, there was no sexual misconduct. There was a subsequent 3.5 month investigation with the Dean of the Faculty, during a three hour meeting it was actually floated that I led the son on, and I needed to recognize my accountability in all of this. Given that I have hundreds and hundreds of creepy texts from both my professor and the son it kind of blew all of our minds (pretty much everyone in my department knows this story) that the University would even dare treat me so poorly. SHARE and [redacted SHARE staff] of course also massively failed me and followed through on a total of zero of the promises for advocacy, which was very upsetting. 

An additional element of this saga that is painful to accept is that all of this trauma and my state of heightened anxiety negatively impacted my ability to teach to what I consider to be even the most mediocre standards, and I feel my undergraduate students this past fall suffered because of what was going on in the background and the lack of support I was receiving. They did not get what they deserved, and I will always feel guilty about that. 

Hopefully this story can help shed a tiny bit of light on some of the other disturbing forms of unconventional sexual harassment that can occur between advisors (aka the gods of our future) and students, and how neither the University, our departments, or Title IX are willing to step up and protect us from faculty and faculty members’ families when unprecedented situations like these arise, or even acknowledge the deleterious effects of this behavior that has been deeply traumatic for me and sadly will forever define part of my experience as a doctoral student at Princeton University.”

— Anonymous Princeton Graduate Student