Professor John L. Comaroff was placed on unpaid administrative leave last year after two internal investigations found he had violated Harvard University's sexual harassment policies. But the leave has now ended and he continues to teach at the school. To protest that, more than 100 students flooded into, and then walked out of, the first lecture for one of his classes on Tuesday. As he started to speak, they got up out of their seats and filed into the hallway chanting "Justice for survivors" and "No more Comaroff, no more complicity," the Harvard Crimson reports. As Comaroff smiled and nodded in response, one of the protesters said, "Smile in hell, a--hole."
Comaroff's leave was instituted after three students sued Harvard, alleging it ignored abuse accusations including groping and unwanted kissing, and that suit remains ongoing, the Hill reports. The students say Comaroff threatened them to keep them from reporting the alleged abuse, and then, "When students reported him to Harvard and sought to warn their peers about him, Harvard watched as he retaliated by foreclosing career paths and ensuring that those students would have ’trouble getting jobs,'" the complaint says. "The results have been devastating: Professor Comaroff and his enablers have destroyed the educational opportunities and careers of countless students.”
Comaroff first returned to teach in the fall semester last year, and faced a similar walkout. For the two courses he's teaching this semester, just four students are currently enrolled in total. "This man is not safe to interact with undergraduate students," says an organizer of Tuesday's protest. But Comaroff's lawyers deny that, saying he "is doing nothing to create unsafe conditions for any Harvard student" and that he rejects the calls for him to resign. "He is fully authorized to teach Harvard students who sign up for his courses,” they say. "The claim that he poses a danger is ludicrous in light of the actual facts." He had also been placed on leave for similar allegations in 2020. (Read more Harvard stories.)