Astrobites Statement on Harassment

Content warning: The following Astrobite will discuss issues pertaining to sexual violence and harassment.

In keeping with our Statement of Inclusivity, we at Astrobites stand unequivocally with survivors of sexual violence and harassment. As such, we will no longer be covering any papers featuring Geoff Marcy as an author. This course of action has been spurred by recent arXiv postings including Geoff Marcy as an author and an even more recent Nature paper with Marcy as second author.

Marcy’s authorship on these preprints is disturbing because in 2015 he was found to have violated both Title IX sexual harassment policies between 2001 and 2010, and the AAS Anti-Harassment policy. Although a majority of UC Berkeley faculty issued a vote of no confidence in Marcy’s ability to perform the functions of a faculty member, leading to his resignation in 2015, he still holds emeritus status at UC Berkeley. This status allows him to include a UC Berkeley affiliation on his publications. He was finally removed as a member of the National Academy of Sciences less than two months ago on May 26, 2021, becoming the first scientist to be expelled from the prestigious organization. 

We had previously published numerous articles featuring the work of Marcy, including one post after his actions were made public and an earlier post covering his career and detailing his prospective future. Those posts have all been removed.

We understand that Marcy is not the only sexual harasser in the astronomy/physics community, and that there are other types of unacceptable behavior (e.g., bullying, harassment based on other identities). We are in the process of developing an Astrobites Code of Conduct and discussing how we will be addressing other known violations of this code. You can expect our plan of action soon.

It is incredibly disappointing that the act of creating an environment in which we are all free from harassment and abuse is falling on some of the most junior voices in our community. As Astrobites is a collaboration of graduate students, we are calling on the more senior members of our community, namely tenured faculty, to stand with us and stop giving voices to known harassers. This can be done by refusing to co-author or collaborate with someone who is known to have committed sexual assault.  This can be done by ensuring that sexual predators are reported. This can be done by not asking when sexual predators will get their second chance at a professional career in astronomy, and instead asking how to ensure that survivors of sexual violence and harassment keep their first chance. This can be done by prioritizing the health and well-being of your students, post-docs, and faculty. 

We care very much about the state of our community, and we hope that the most senior members of our community will do better.

Disclaimer: This post was written after a collaboration-wide decision and is based on the personal views and opinions of Astrobites authors, who are graduate student volunteers. They are not necessarily representative of the views of the American Astronomical Society or other institutions with whom our authors are affiliated.

Featured image credit: Astrobites

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This post was written collectively by multiple members of the Astrobites team. Meet the authors of Astrobites.

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