Though she agreed to have her name released publicly as part of UC Irvine’s investigation into myriad allegations of sexual harassment against Professor Francisco Ayala–an official who was so prominent on campus that his name adorned the School of Biological Sciences–Professor Kathleen Treseder has not really spoken publicly about what happened to her. She did not comment when I wrote about the defense of Ayala in this September 2018 story, but did agree to speak with me for this January 2019 story on the aftermath of her complaints against Ayala (he resigned in June 2018 after UCI officials determined that he had harassed three colleagues, including Treseder).
For the first time, Treseder today posted an open letter in her own words on her lab’s blog about her experiences in the matter, what happened her to because she spoke out publicly against Ayala, and what men can do to help. While not a lengthy letter, it’s still a difficult read, especially if you or someone you know has been sexually harassed:
Many people have wondered why I asked to be named publicly as a sexual harassment victim last summer. I did it as an act of faith. I believed that, if my colleagues were aware of the facts of my circumstances, they would help me when I needed it.
At the same time, I was unsurprised by the retaliation, threats, and fear for my family that I have lived with since. I had seen this happening to women who have preceded me in other public cases. I expected this when I asked to be named.
What I didn’t expect, and I’m deeply grateful for, is how many women would reach out to me to share their own stories, related or unrelated to mine. Moreover, of the women I’ve interacted with professionally in the past year who have been aware of my cases, most have volunteered their own experiences with bullying, sexual harassment, or sexual assault. Most women. This may seem shocking to some, and I wish it were not the case. Nevertheless, it is true.
Click here to read Professor Treseder’s open letter in its entirety.
Anthony Pignataro has been a journalist since 1996. He spent a dozen years as Editor of MauiTime, the last alt weekly in Hawaii. He also wrote three trashy novels about Maui, which were published by Event Horizon Press. But he got his start at OC Weekly, and returned to the paper in 2019 as a Staff Writer.