Harvard Students Are Again Protesting a Professor Accused of Sexual Misconduct
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- Anthropology professor John Comaroff first returned to teaching at Harvard last fall following a year on administrative leave.
- This spring, Comaroff reappeared in the course catalog with a new class for undergraduate students.
- More than 100 undergrads walked out of his first class of the semester as a response.
- Harvard has remained silent on the matter in the midst of an ongoing lawsuit.
Harvard students are once again protesting the presence of professor John Comaroff in a Cambridge, Massachusetts, classroom.
The professor of anthropology and African American studies at the university was accused of sexually harassing several students in 2020. After a year on both paid and unpaid administrative leave — and an ongoing lawsuit against both him and the university — Comaroff's class reappeared in the course catalog in June 2022.
Graduate students immediately came together last fall to protest his return, organizing class walkouts and campus marches in hope that the university would respond accordingly.
Harvard did not remove Comaroff from the classroom, and his undergraduate anthropology class appeared in the spring 2023 course catalog.
In response, more than 100 undergraduate students occupied Comaroff's classroom on Jan. 24, the first day of class, and staged yet another walkout.
Just as class was set to begin, one student stood up and proclaimed that they "don't want to be taught by someone who has still not been held accountable for, or made amends for, their sexual misconduct."
Watch the moment 100+ @Harvard students walked out of John Comaroff’s classroom, a current professor and known sexual abuser.— Rosie Couture ☂️ (@rosiecouturee) January 25, 2023
We demand Comaroff resigns & @Harvard ends their complicity in sexual abuse and misogyny on campus. #WalkoutOnComaroff @OurHarvard pic.twitter.com/t38Blxfm2B
"John Comaroff spent his career harassing, silencing, and retaliating against students," the student can be heard saying in a video posted Tuesday to Twitter. "He does not belong at Harvard."
The student then asked their peers to join them in walking out if they agreed, while others held signs and began chanting, "Justice for survivors" and "No more Comaroff, no more complicity."
Dozens, if not 100+ undergrads are currently occupying John Comaroff’s classroom. @hgsuuaw @OurHarvard pic.twitter.com/TqxcPLZVXE— kob (@kljungz) January 24, 2023
According to The Harvard Crimson, the class was nearly empty within 10 minutes, with just two students remaining in their seats.
Those who chose to walk out quickly took to marching through campus to carry out further action and make their voices heard.
Though Harvard has continued to stay silent on the matter, Lilia Kilburn, one of Comaroff's accusers and a plaintiff in the lawsuit against the university, took to Twitter to express her admiration for the continued protesting efforts against the professor.
When I saw what Harvard undergrads did today, I wept.— lilia kilburn 🌷🌻🌹 (@LiliaKilburn) January 24, 2023
Because no one should have to go through what I went through with John Comaroff to get an education.
Because Harvard was warned about Comaroff and did nothing, but these students are making sure warnings reach everyone. pic.twitter.com/hFdOFCDckS
"When I saw what Harvard undergrads did today, I wept," Kilburn said. "Because no one should have to go through what I went through with John Comaroff to get an education. Because Harvard was warned about Comaroff and did nothing, but these students are making sure warnings reach everyone."
Comaroff has continually denied any wrongdoing through his legal team and remains an active professor at the university.