UC Berkeley professor apologizes after sexual harassment claims

A prominent astronomer at the University of California, Berkeley, has resigned after an investigation found that he sexually harassed female students over a nine-year period. Today, the news outlet followed up that report saying that Marcy is resigning from Berkeley.



In an open letter, 22 members of the Berkeley astronomy faculty have called on the university to re-examine its response to the case.

“Berkeley undertook a formal investigation and found Marcy guilty of repeated harassment over almost a decade”.

Marcy has also stepped down as the principal investigator of the Breakthrough Listen project, a $100 million effort invented to jumpstart the hunt for alien life.

Marcy had been a member of the UC Berkeley astronomy department since 1999 and has been lauded as the primary exoplanet authority responsible for our transformed understanding of the extrasolar universe.

“The university has imposed real consequences on Professor Geoff Marcy by establishing a zero tolerance policy regarding future behavior and by stripping him of the procedural protections that all other faculty members enjoy”, the statement said.

She told she was afraid to confront Marcy or file a complaint because she needed letters of recommendation for graduate school.

On Friday, BuzzFeed News revealed allegations from four women that Marcy had repeatedly engaged in inappropriate physical behaviour, sparking an investigation. And Sarah Ballard, now at the University of Washington, stepped forward in the investigation with her own story of Marcy’s harassment.

“Sexual harassment has no place in our Department”, the letter said.

The university’s own handling of the case drew widespread criticism, with some faculty members, students and many in the astronomy community expressing dismay that Marcy had been allowed to continue in his position with what some said amounted to a slap on the wrist.

But students are livid that the professor received what they see as a mere warning for his past behavior as part of an agreement reached with the university’s vice provost for the faculty.

Young female professionals in the field are put at a disadvantage, Dr. Richey says.

 

The Committee on the Status of Women in Astronomy addressed the community on Monday: “The larger issue here is that everyone in our field should be treated as a scientist, with equal respect and dignity”.

Geoff Marcy