Sunday, December 16, 2018

New York Times Weighs in On Star Harvard Economics Professor Who Earns More Than $600,000 per Year and Is Under Investigation for Sexual Harassment

I reported on a Harvard Crimson story back in March on the investigation of Harvard economics professor Roland G. Fryer, Jr. is being investigated separately by the University and the state of Massachusetts and has been barred by University officials from setting foot in the research lab he heads.

At the time I reported:
It should be noted that the social justice warrior crowd is not a fan of Fryer.
 Justin Feldman, a social epidemiologist at NYU who "examines the ways in which structural racism and economic inequality influence population health," wrote in July 2016:
Roland Fryer, an economics professor at Harvard University, recently published a working paper at NBER on the topic of racial bias in police use of force and police shootings. The paper gained substantial media attention – a write-up of it became the top viewed article on the New York Times website. The most notable part of the study was its finding that there was no evidence of racial bias in police shootings, which Fryer called “the most surprising result of [his] career”. In his analysis of shootings in Houston, Texas, black and Hispanic people were no more likely (and perhaps even less likely) to be shot relative to whites.
Fryer’s analysis is highly flawed, however. It suffers from major theoretical and methodological errors, and he has communicated the results to news media in a way that is misleading. While there have long been problems with the quality of police shootings data, there is still plenty of evidence to support a pattern of systematic, racially discriminatory use of force against black people in the United States.
Here is some of what the Times is adding to the picture:
Before he turned 40, Roland G. Fryer Jr. had earned tenure at Harvard, received a MacArthur “genius” grant and won the most prestigious award for young American economists. He stoked a national debate by concluding that police officers show no bias in the shootings of black men.

But his rapid ascent has taken a troubling turn as Harvard officials review a university investigator’s conclusion that Dr. Fryer fostered a work environment hostile to women, one filled with sexual talk and bullying...

Now 41, he is one of Harvard’s best-paid faculty members, earning more than $600,000, the university’s 2016 tax filing shows...

A former assistant reported to a Harvard human resources office in late 2008 that Dr. Fryer was sending her unwelcome and sexually suggestive nighttime text messages. Dr. Fryer agreed to change his behavior, apparently on the advice of a university official. But he directed another employee to compile examples of poor performance by the accuser. He refused to write recommendations for economics graduate programs she was applying to, according to her complaint, and all rejected her.

The woman’s pending complaint, a copy of which was reviewed by The Times, is one of at least three brought against Dr. Fryer under Title IX, the federal statute prohibiting sex-based discrimination by educational institutions that receive federal funding. One of the cases was brought by Harvard’s Title IX office on behalf of several women. The filing of some of the complaints was first reported by The Harvard Crimson...

The earliest incidents to figure in the formal complaints involve a woman who landed a job with Dr. Fryer as an assistant a decade ago, at 23, barely a year after graduating from college.

Dr. Fryer began sending her text messages that “quickly veered into flirtatious and sexual overtures,” according to her complaint, which has been reviewed by The Times, along with text messages that the two exchanged. He invited her to see him socially, and she initially agreed, but became uncomfortable as he pushed her to spend more time with him away from the lab.

In her first month, she made visits to his apartment at night to play video games, and he sometimes complained that she left too early or did not drink enough while there. He invited her to weekend activities that he said needed to stay a secret from others in the lab, to avoid rumors. And he sent after-hours BlackBerry messages, including one telling her: “Ur lucky ur not here. I would either tackle, bite u or both.”

The woman told friends she was upset by the messages and his conduct, according to documents in her complaint, and she stopped visiting his apartment.

After that, Dr. Fryer began to criticize her work. She informed human resources, but was told that the university could not transfer her to a different researcher.

Dr. Fryer apologized to the woman and said she had misinterpreted his “friendly nature,” according to notes taken at the time by two managers in the lab...

One incident was raised in the complaint filed by the Title IX office: an episode in which a woman in the lab told a story about bending down to help an older faculty member tie his shoe. According to several witnesses cited in the investigator’s report, Dr. Fryer launched into an extended monologue implying that the woman had performed fellatio. By at least two accounts, Dr. Fryer put his foot on her desk so that his crotch was in front of her face, in view of several employees, including two other women who told the investigator they were upset by the behavior.

The investigator concluded that Dr. Fryer’s “unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature was sufficiently severe” that it interfered with the three women’s ability to work.

Dr. Fryer told the Harvard investigator that “that riff” was simply a joke and that the employee it involved was “laughing hysterically.” He questioned whether he was being singled out for scrutiny because of his race.

“Why am I the only one who violated policy when many others participated?” he asked, according to the investigator’s report. “Is it because I am the only professor or because of my skin color?”

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