A prominent professor in the department of East Asian languages and cultures has been suspended by UC Berkeley after it was found that he sexually harassed a student in 2018.
Allegations of Sexual Harassment
According to The Chronicle, the accused, Alan Tansman, sexually harassed her and told her about his sexual preferences, described his sexual fantasies which created a hostile work environment for her.
Tansman is a tenured professor in his field and has written numerous books on Japanese literature and culture.
These allegations against the professor were supported in a confidential report in February of 2018. Thirty-eight witnesses were interviewed by a campus investigator, out of which 5 said that the professor had either flirted or sexually harassed them repeatedly.
Tansman and his lawyers have not publicly responded, but UC Berkeley has issued a public statement without disclosing the professor’s identity.
The statement which was published by The Chronicle, states that “a professor” was involved in unwelcomed verbal conduct of sexual nature for over two years. It also said that the professor denies these allegations.
Suspension by UC Berkeley
As a part of an agreement with UC Berkeley, the professor lost his endowed chair and may not be allowed to access his office until the 1st of July 2020. In addition, he may not participate in department activities and is barred from serving on new graduate student committees until the 20th of June 2022.
The victim, who was Tansman’s former student, said that UC Berkeley’s commitment toward sexually harassed students seems highly questionable in the light of their agreement.
She said that someone like Tansman, who has been sexually harassing his students for such a long period of time, should have been fired immediately.
This story was first reported in May in the media as part of an article about women who reported they were sexually harassed years ago by the still-on-campus professors of UC Berkeley. Now, these women are requesting the university to look into their complaints and seek delayed justice.
#MeToo Movement is the Catalyst the University ‘Needed’
The student who complained about Tansman was his doctoral student from 2003 to 2007, and a postdoctoral fellow in ’08-’09.
She says that she tried to report his inappropriate behavior in 2009, but was told she will have to locate and convince every witness to come forward as well and write a detailed account of the incident.
Then in 2017, when the #MeToo movement heartened the campus activism, the university was forced to take action so that the victims of sexual harassment by professors will come forward. This encouraged her to file a second report which ultimately started the investigation.
Campus investigator Suzanne Taylor interviewed dozens of witnesses and concluded that Tansman made unwelcomed sexual advances to the student between 2007 and 2009.
Taylor also reported that the professor called the student “sexy”, propositioned her, and told her he fantasized about having sex with an associate. He also said that he regretted not having sex with a former student.
Taylor wrote in her report that since Tansman was an influential person, students found it difficult to object to his behavior.
The University’s Slow Response to Complaints of Sexual Harassment
Four months after Taylor provided her report, the California state auditor issued a report in June, criticizing the university’s response to sexual harassment complaints.
A total of 23 cases were audited at UC Berkeley, UCLA, and UC Davis. It was found that the university takes an average of 43 days to take disciplinary action against staff after an investigation. However, when it comes to faculty, it takes 220 days on average.
According to Claire Doan, the spokeswoman for the University of California President, they are revising the rules in order to reduce the time it takes to impose discipline.
Consult with a Competent Sexual Assault Attorney in California
If you or one of your loved ones have been subjected to sexual harassment in any form (whether now or in the past), you should contact the skilled and experienced sexual harassment attorneys at Makarem & Associates in California.