A Message to the WCFIA Community about the Comaroff Letter

February 14, 2022

Dear members of the Weatherhead Center community:
 
The past week has been very difficult for our WCFIA community. A group of 38 Harvard faculty members (including 22 WCFIA affiliates) issued an open letter, which questioned the University’s misconduct investigations of and sanctions against John Comaroff, an anthropology professor and a WCFIA faculty associate. A few days later, three anthropology graduate students filed a lawsuit against Harvard, charging that the University willfully ignored years of Comaroff’s sexual harassment. A group of 73 Harvard faculty members (including 21 WCFIA affiliates) also wrote a letter opposing the original letter. Subsequently, most of the signatories of the original letter retracted their names and acknowledged the letter’s harmful impact on students and their lack of full information about the case.
 
I have heard from many of you expressing your profound disappointment, dismay, and anger at what has transpired. Many of you have felt that you are unable to engage in uncomfortable yet pivotal conversations about the WCFIA’s past, present, and future to promote a genuine sense of inclusion for the entire community. I want to particularly acknowledge the impact this series of events has had on our graduate students.
 
In the days ahead, I would like us to gather, listen, and think together how to address these concerns at the WCFIA. I am therefore organizing a community dialogue, which will take place on Wednesday, February 23rd at 4:30pm.
 
The WCFIA unequivocally denounces all forms of harassment, discrimination, mistreatment, and any other harmful and exclusionary practices that are inconsistent with our community values. I hope you join in our Center-wide efforts in making everyone—whether as a student, staff, faculty, fellow, or any other affiliation capacity—feel safe, respected, and included regardless of social status or identities, however uncomfortable and difficult the process may be.
 
I would also like to offer information on University resources that some may find helpful:

Employee Assistance Program (EAP) via KGA
Harvard University Counseling & Mental Health Services
Center for Wellness & Health Promotion
Harvard Chaplains Office
 
For University-wide resources for equity, diversity, inclusion and belonging (EDIB), please see:

Office for Equity, Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging
Office for Gender Equity
Anonymous Reporting Hotline
Harvard Ombuds Office
Office of Labor & Employee Relations
 
Yours sincerely,

Melani Cammett
Center Director