The famously self-righteous field of Middle East studies, which lambasts outside criticism as "censorship" and condemns America, Israel, and the West while lauding Islamists, now finds itself on the defensive. Two of its leading lights, the University of California, Berkeley's Nezar AlSayyad and the University of California, Los Angeles's Gabriel Piterberg, have been accused of sexually harassing female graduate students.
In October, UC Berkeley concluded an investigation, finding that, between 2012 and 2014, AlSayyad, who chairs the Center for Middle Eastern Studies (CMES) and teaches architecture, built a relationship, including frequent social invitations and hugs, with graduate student Eva Hagberg Fisher in an effort to "groom" her. A car ride during which he put his hand on her thigh and proposed a trip together to Las Vegas was the final straw.
The report found that AlSayyad isolated the student from other professors and was on the exam committee whose approval was required for her to complete her dissertation. He also edited a journal in which many students hoped to be published.
The San Francisco Chronicle reports that two other students complained about AlSayyad's conduct, including one who filed a complaint in April alleging they had sex over twenty years ago under similar circumstances. While AlSayyad denies the charges, the investigation upheld Hagberg Fisher's claims and the university suspended him for a semester.
Berkeley graduate students, upset at the university for its initial silence, expressed their disapproval by walking out of AlSayyad's section, protesting outside his department, and marching across campus chanting, "Protect Students, Not Tenure." They have the option of completing one of his required courses with a new instructor. ...