Statement on Recent Title IX Case at Caltech

January 19, 2016

We, the Caltech Graduate Student Council Board of Directors, believe that sexual harassment has no place on our campus or in academia. In two letters from Caltech’s President over the last few months, we learned that a Caltech professor has been found responsible for gender-based harassment of two graduate students. This professor has been suspended for the remainder of the academic year. Last week, we learned that the two graduate students have chosen to identify themselves, the faculty member, and some details of the harassment in an online article.

 We write this statement to applaud the courage and strength demonstrated by our students, Sarah Gossan and Io Kleiser, in both the process of making the Title IX complaint as well as going public with their story. We are proud of them and we support their decision to share their story and to name their offender as Christian Ott. We believe that Io and Sarah’s actions are important to our community and science in general because these actions draw more attention to the problem of harassment in science and will take away places for harassers to hide.

 We also write this statement to express and offer support to graduate students who have experienced or are experiencing sexual harassment or any other type of discrimination on our campus. Please know that your GSC representatives support you and can help connect you to resources on campus. Please also know that we support you whether you come forward publicly or confidentially. If you need to talk to someone, you can seek confidential help and/or speak to our Title IX Coordinator.

 And finally, we write this statement to challenge faculty to take action in improving the climate and environment for graduate students on campus. We look forward to the opportunity on February 11, at the Student-Faculty Colloquium, to have faculty and students work together to tackle important issues on campus. Our campus has a lot of work to do. We are optimistic that this campus, with its commitment to providing a quality education for all its students, will continue to move in the right direction and we look forward to working with Caltech students, faculty, and administrators to act on the proposals suggested in the President and Provost’s message.

— The Board of Directors of the Caltech Graduate Student Council

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