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Geologist Accused of Sexual Harassment Gets Terminated by Boston University

On Behalf of | Apr 18, 2019 | Articles, Firm News

Boston University (BU) has fired its famous geologist David Marchant. According to a report published in Science about one and half years ago, Marchant was involved in sexually harassing women in remote Antarctic camps.

The Hearing Committee comprising faculty members had previously recommended that Marchant be suspended for a period of three years without pay (instead of being terminated from service).

The Committee had also prohibited Marchant from leading expeditions to the Antarctic on behalf of the university.

However, now Robert Brown, the President of BU, has overruled the decision of the Hearing Committee, favoring a termination as appropriate for his actions of sexual harassment.

The University’s mandatory procedure according to the faculty handbook required the final step of the Board of Trustees to accept the recommendations. It was stated that the decision taken by the Board of Trustees was final.


Jane Willenbring, an associate professor at the University of California’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography, said in San Diego that although she had an idea that sexual harassment cases favor no one, academia, the BU and Science gained significant favor due to this ruling.

Willenbring’s had made a complaint to the Title IX department of BU about Marchant’s behavior. She complained of harassment against Merchant in an Antarctica expedition that kick-started the investigation.

Willenbring said she was grateful to all who had the courage, to tell the truth about Merchant’s behavior.

Erika Marin-Spiotta, lead investigator of an (NSF)-National Science Foundation sponsored project known as ADVANCEGeo aimed to improve the geosciences’ workplace climate, and a biogeochemist at Madison’s University of Wisconsin said that Tenure should only protect intellectual and scientific freedom and harassers/abusers should not be favored in any manner.

A Skokie high school tutor in Illinois, Hillary Tulley had complained that Merchant made profane comments and taunted her when she was at an Antarctica field site in the 1990s.

Tulley cried as she was overwhelmed by the ruling and said that the sense of relief due to the delivery of justice by Boston University was highly satisfactory.

Marchant’s Point

Marchant’s lawyer Jeffrey Sankey belonging to Braintree, Massachusetts, had vowed to go against the termination legally via a statement states that Merchant “never” harassed anyone sexually, neither in 1998 or 1999 anywhere, including Antarctica, nor at any other time.

The Media Reports

Marchant’s case as reported on Full Frontal with Samantha Bee attracted national media attention on sexual harassment, specifically during fieldwork in sciences. The US House of Representatives started investigating the case soon after.

The issue prompted a glacier’s renaming that once was named after Marchant. The investigation also helped to create newer reporting requirements that have been accepted by the NSF.

Speak to a Dedicated Sexual Harassment Lawyer in California

If you have suffered sexual harassment of any kind at your workplace, know that it is safe to raise your voice and pursue a legal claim to ensure that the harasser does not go unpunished.

Skilled sexual harassment attorneys at Makarem & Associates in California are here to protect your rights. Contact Makarem & Associates via email at [email protected] or call 310.312.0299 today.