Astrobites announcement about former author

Content warning: The following post will discuss issues pertaining to bullying and harassment.

Since publication, Astrobites has been informed by the University of Florida that “The allegations of discrimination were found to be unsubstantiated and no sanctions were issued against Dr. Slepian. Additionally, Dr. Slepian’s position and duties remain the same and he is in good standing with his Department and College and with the University.” Furthermore, the allegations referenced below which were posted on Twitter have since been deleted.

We are saddened to learn about the recent reports of harassment and abuse directed towards a junior astronomer at the University of Florida. We at Astrobites stand by our previous statements on harassment and inclusivity, and we believe and stand with the scientists who have bravely reported abuse despite significant personal cost. Astronomy should be inclusive to all, and we do not tolerate harassment by any member of our organization. 

Allegations have been made that the abuse was perpetrated by Zachary Slepian, a former author at Astrobites. The alleged behaviors, if true, run counter to Astrobites’ values. Therefore, we have removed Dr. Slepian from the Astrobites collaboration. His articles will be removed from our site, and his likeness and image will be removed from this site and from all promotional Astrobites materials. 

The Astrobites collaboration is currently working to develop a formal Code of Conduct and internal review process to help prevent bullying, harassment, and discrimination within our organization, and we will share these publicly when available. This may take some time, as we want to be thoughtful and intentional about how we deal with these issues, but we believe that transparency is also an important aspect of building a more just and equitable organization. We appreciate our readership’s patience while we reflect and develop these procedures. 

We encourage senior scientists and other astronomical organizations to similarly reflect on how our communities deal with bullying and abuse. 

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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