Celeste Kidd was elated when she learned, in 2007, that she had been invited to interview for a PhD program at the University of Rochester. The talented 24-year-old linguistics major had applied to many of the country's top cognitive science departments, but among those, she had her eye fixed on UR's. There, she might have the chance to work with Richard Aslin, a nationally respected expert on infant learning, her area of research. Aslin had the right lab equipment, the right grants, and a reputation for supporting his students' interests even when it diverged from his own. Getting an interview in his department was "one of the most exciting moments of my life," Kidd remembers.
University of Rochester professor T. Florian Jaeger, the subject of a 2016 sexual harassment complaint who was found by his university not to have violated its policies, will no longer teach an undergraduate course there this semester. According to an email from Jaeger to students enrolled in the class, which was provided to Mother Jones separately by two students, the university has appointed a different instructor. Eight current and former members of UR's brain and cognitive sciences department filed identical EEOC complaints about two weeks ago alleging that Jaeger, the university, and several administrators violated laws that ban discrimination in the workplace and in federally funded education. Their 111-page complaint, first reported on by Mother Jones, claims that Jaeger contributed to a "hostile environment" for some graduate students, post-docs, and faculty members and alleges that over a 10-year period Jaeger's behavior caused 11 women to actively avoid him and lose out on educational opportunities. Jaeger "made it clear that students who wanted to excel needed to please him, socially and sometimes sexually," the complaint alleges.
Lauren Peace talks with attorney Sharon Stiller and Michelle Cammarata of Restore Sexual Assault services about how to identify instances of sexual harassment and what to do about it. Since the allegations surfaced publicly in early September against psycholinguistics professor T. Florian Jaeger, 41, the number of alleged victims has grown to 14, according to managing partner Jef McAllister of McAllister Olivarius law firm, the complainants' legal team. Psycholinguistics is the study of the psychological and neuroscientific processes that allow people to use and understand language, and Jaeger was at the forefront of that research. Sept. 14: What you need to know about university's sexual harassment case Sept. 13: Student criticism on handling of sex harassment allegations mounts Sept. 11: Clearing of prof accused of sex harassment focus of faculty complaint The private university itself is accused of protecting Jaeger, even going so far as to retaliate against those who complained about his behavior before relief was sought from the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The two who wrote a letter to the university Board of Trustees have been past department chairpersons who have worked a total of 57 years for the University of Rochester.