Over 100 Harvard students walk out of alleged groping professor’s class
More than 100 Harvard University students walked out of a class taught by a professor who was allowed to return after being accused of forcibly kissing and groping students.
Video footage captured John Comaroff, an anthropology professor, sitting in front of his class on Tuesday 24 January as several students began to stand.
One female student, speaking from her phone, said that she didn’t want to be taught anything by someone who had not been held responsible for or made amends for sexual misconduct.
“John Comaroff spent his career harassing, silencing, and retaliating against students,” she continued, as others pulled out signs and stood in protest.
“He does not belong at Harvard,” she continued, calling for those who “agree” to walk out “because enough is enough.”
Most of the students then started to file out of the room, chanting “Justice for survivors” and “No more Comaroff, no more complicity.”
Comaroff — who was returning to teaching after two periods of unpaid administrative leave — smiled and nodded at the protesters.
“Smile in hell, a**hole,” one of the last to leave told him, according to the Harvard Crimson.
Only two students remained in the classroom, the student newspaper said. Three students remained enrolled in the class as of Tuesday, while only one student was still registered for Comaroff’s other course, the Crimson noted.
Protesters also stuck signs and copies of a lawsuit on Comaroff’s door.
The professor was first put on paid leave in 2020 after an investigation by the paper found that at least three female graduate students had complained of harassment and professional retaliation.
He was put back on unpaid administrative leave in 2022 after two internal investigations found he’d violated Harvard’s sexual harassment and professional conduct policies, the Crimson noted.
Three accusers — Lilia Kilburn, Margaret Czerwienski, and Amulya Mandava — sued the school last year, alleging a “decade-long failure to protect students from sexual abuse and career-ending retaliation.”
It accused Comaroff of having “kissed and groped students without their consent, made unwelcome sexual advances, and threatened to sabotage students’ careers if they complained.”
Kilburn said she had an emotional response to Tuesday’s walkout.
“When I saw what Harvard undergrads did today, I wept,” she tweeted.
“Because no one should have to go through what I went through with John Comaroff to get an education.”