Editor’s Note: This article contains a reference to sexual harassment.
Professor Michael Eric Dyson is expected to teach three graduate research courses at Divinity School in the spring of 2022, according to Vanderbilt’s course registration system (YES). He was investigated for sexual harassment allegations while at Georgetown University, but survey results have not been released, according to a Georgetown Politics.
Dyson was also scheduled to teach three graduate research courses and a teaching assistant internship at Divinity School in the fall of 2021, per YES. No students appear to be currently enrolled in Dyson Spring 2022 or Fall 2021 courses. Vanderbilt Faculty phone book lists Dyson’s phone number as zeros and his office as the current one vacant Kirkland Room. Dyson did not respond to The Hustler’s request for comment.
As of June 1, 2021, Georgetown Voice item reads that Georgetown Office of Institutional Diversity, Equity and Affirmative Action (IDEA) engaged in a formal investigation into Dyson’s behavior from February 2020 to mid-September 2020. Vanderbilt hired Public September 28, 2020, and he joined the faculty in January 2021.
Although listed as Distinguished Professor of African American and Diaspora Studies (AADS) at the College of Arts and Science (A&S) and Distinguished Professor of Ethics and Society at Divinity School, there are currently no plans to teach no A&S course in spring 2022 He was not listed as an instructor on YES for any spring 2021 course.
Dyson is an ordained Baptist minister and doctoral author. in religion. He also writes for the New York Times, and his most recent article is “Where is forgiveness and grace in the culture of cancellation?”
Divinity School Dean Emilie Townes and AADS Department Chair Dr Tracy Sharpley-Whiting did not respond to The Hustler’s multiple requests for comment. The Voice asked Vanderbilt about his knowledge of the Georgetown IDEAA investigation in a May 18, 2021 email obtained by The Hustler.
“We have carefully considered the facts available regarding this case. We are not aware of any previous Title IX investigation involving Professor Dyson“, We read in the press release. “The information we currently have does not justify any further action on the part of the University. “
A statement from the university emailed to The Hustler says the well-being of the Vanderbilt community is at the forefront of the university’s goals.
“The safety and security of the Vanderbilt community is of our utmost concern and we take any reports of professional misconduct by a professor, student or staff member very seriously. When a report of misconduct is made, we take prompt and appropriate action to investigate according to our established processes, ”said a statement from the university emailed to The Hustler. “As a rule, we do not comment on details of personnel matters and have no additional information to share at this time.”
In an email dated June 1, 2021 to The Hustler, Director of Project security center For prevention and response to sexual misconduct, Cara Tuttle Bell said Project Safe was not involved in investigating allegations of sexual harassment.
According to the Voice article, a student at one of Dyson’s fall 2019 classes in Georgetown said he made multiple attempts to establish an off-campus relationship with her. The Voice reports that Dyson did not teach at Georgetown in 2020, however, The Voice reported that the cause of this discrepancy is unknown. Below 34 CFR §§ 106.44 (c) – (d), schools can place non-student employees on administrative leave or withdraw them in an emergency while a Title IX grievance process ensues.
“The student alleged repeated invitations to private dinners off campus, personal text messages, and incidents of unwanted physical and proximity contact, including invasions of personal space and a case of Dyson massaging the student in class ”, we read in the article. “When she offered to meet Dyson during office hours, according to the student, he insisted on private conversations outside of an academic setting.”
professor at Stony Brook University Fleming Crystal separately alleged to the Voice and publicly on Twitter that Dyson sexually harassed her while she was a student at Harvard University and a professor at the University of Pennsylvania (UPenn). Dyson was part of the UPenn faculty between 2002 and 2007.
In an October 17, 2017, Twitter thread, Fleming says she allegedly met Dyson to discuss her research. She posted that Dyson flirted with her when they met in person and her behavior was “despicable.” Fleming said in an email to The Hustler that she was not interested in talking more about this matter.
“I remember the feeling of disappointment and even shame when I realized why he had asked to meet. It just blew me away that a “famous” married professor proposed to me so brazenly – a graduate student decades his junior and that he would use “interest in my job” as a pretext to make an unequivocal sexual advance and unwanted, ”one of Fleming’s tweets read. “His responses, however, made it clear that any ‘professional help’ he provided would have been conditioned on my sexual subordination.”
Madison Edwards (’21) wrote an op-ed for the Vanderbilt chapter of his campus on February 26, 2021, entitled “Why does Vanderbilt continue to fail black women”, In which she details the allegations against Dyson and her reaction to them. She writes that her hiring at Vanderbilt made her fear for herself and the other black students at Vanderbilt.
“I question the Vanderbilt administration for allowing someone like Michael Eric Dyson to work on our campus and with students. Do they really care about our safety, or is it done to enhance the prestige of Vanderbilt? Edwards writes in the room. “Vanderbilt cannot deny what Michael Eric Dyson has been accused of doing. If I, a student, can find out about these atrocities, there is no way their hiring committee cannot.”
On May 1, 2021, junior Nikki Aminmadani also wrote an editorial for the Vanderbilt Political Review titled “Vanderbilt failed to be an ally of the #MeToo movement. “In it, she claims that Vanderbilt’s hiring of Dyson is a”misaligned prioritization of campus security.
“Vanderbilt is putting students, postdocs and faculty at risk with this hire. Not only does this make women vulnerable to abuse and harassment, it also discourages victims who are currently trying to lay charges ”, Aminmadani’s article bed. “Vanderbilt’s silence in the face of these allegations is in itself an act of violence against women, especially women of color. ”
Members of the Georgetown Black Survivors’ Coalition (BSC) brought to Georgetown’s attention allegations of alleged sexual misconduct by Dyson during a February 2020 sit-in outside the office of Georgetown President John DeGiola . A video of the sit-in shows a member of the BSC calling Dyson a predator of the black community.
Jessica M. Barker contributed reporting for this article.