Campus professor suspended over sexual harassment allegations

Related Posts

Content warning: Sexual violence and sexual harassment

Campus professor Alan Tansman has been suspended after a Title IX investigation found that he violated the university’s sexual violence and sexual harassment, or SVSH, policy between 2007 and 2009, as first reported by the San Francisco Chronicle.

Tansman, a tenured professor in the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures, agreed Nov. 20 to a suspension beginning Dec. 1, 2018, the SF Chronicle reported. Tansman is suspended without pay for the first year and could lose more than $190,000 of income, according to the SF Chronicle.

Campus spokesperson Janet Gilmore said in an email that Tansman will be on a previously earned sabbatical for the second year of his suspension until July 2020 and will receive seven months of full pay because of the sabbatical credits earned. Tansman must temporarily refrain from teaching and advising new students, however, and only has limited campus access, according to a campus statement.

According to the SF Chronicle, the student involved was Tansman’s doctoral student from 2003 to 2007 and also a postdoctoral fellow from 2008 to 2009. Tansman “engaged in unwelcome verbal conduct of a sexual nature,” according to the campus statement. Five witnesses also supported the student’s allegations in interviews with a campus investigator, alleging that Tansman repeatedly flirted with or sexually harassed them, the SF Chronicle reported.

“A suspension is certainly warranted given the accusation,” said ASUC Senator Zach Carter in an email. “Part of a survivor-centric campus culture involves creating spaces where people can learn safely and our educators understand boundaries and healthy relationships.”

According to the campus statement, Tansman maintained he did not violate the SVSH code with his conduct and denied allegations. The SF Chronicle reported that Vice Provost for the Faculty Ben Hermalin wrote a letter to the student involved, detailing the disciplinary measures taken against Tansman to inform her of the outcome of the case. The letter also stated that Tansman would lose his endowed chair position and may not participate in departmental activities or access his office until July 1, 2020, according to the SF Chronicle.

A state audit in 2018 reviewed cases of sexual harassment in the UC system and found that while it took campuses an average of 43 days to discipline staff, they took an average of 220 days to discipline faculty after an investigation. According to the SF Chronicle, it took 265 days to finalize a disciplinary agreement with Tansman after the initial report was issued.

In 2018, retired campus professor Nezar AlSayyad was similarly suspended after a Title IX investigation found that he had more likely than not sexually harassed a graduate student. After reviewing the evidence of the case, Chancellor Carol Christ found that AlSayyad had engaged in a “pattern of sexual harassment,” and she pushed to extend his suspension to three years without pay. He, too, was barred from teaching and had limited campus access.

ASUC Senator Teddy Lake said the school must have and enforce a zero-tolerance policy for instances of sexual violence and harassment on its campus.

“A brief, partially-paid suspension is not justice for the survivors impacted by Professor Tansman’s abuse— fractional justice isn’t justice at all,” Lake said in an email.

Neither Tansman nor his lawyer could be reached for comment as of press time.

Contact Andreana Chou at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @AndreanaChou.