After putting every effort and achieving an extraordinary bachelor’s degree prize (a recognition to the best degree record), being an outstanding pupil on faculty’s lips, I arrived to a Master’s degree in which I also achieved to finalize with an extraordinary prize. Everything changed when I decided to denounce of sexual harassment the most recidivist teacher of the Faculty. In only a few months, I went from being the best student to being the worst, having the worst grades and not being table to make a work or an oral presentation, according to the same faculty.
I made my doctoral dissertation about the reality of sexual harassment in the universities, and the process of making a complaint, comparing the first one at the University of Barcelona with the first one at the University of California, Berkeley. After I submitted the thesis, it was approved by the Academic Commission of the doctoral programme on Sociology. Subsequently, the thesis had to be approved by the PhD Commission of the Faculty, formed by members of different knowledge fields, other than Sociology. The only expert on Sociology was the Academic Commission of the PhD programme on Sociology, who had agreed with the presentation of the thesis. Furthermore, the thesis had an article published in a journal ranked in the first quartile of the most prestigious JCR database, which is the top at the scientific level, and quite uncommon for doctoral students in Sociology. However, the thesis was rejected at the request of the Dean and the chairwoman of the Equality Commission at the time. They wrote 10 pages with 7 attachments against the thesis and what it analysed in relation to their position in the process of the first report of the University of Barcelona of a famous professor for sexual harassment.
I was doing a research stay at the University of Stanford when I received the notification. The imposition consisted on removing all elements of the thesis that could suggest that the Dean or the Equality Commission had not positioned themselves in favor of the victims, or that they had had some active or passive complicity with the alleged harasser. One of the changes imposed to the thesis to be approved was to include an interview with the Dean of the Faculty and one with the head of the Equality Commission. I interrupted my stay in Stanford and came back to do all the changes that were imposed in their joint letter. The faculty at Stanford University understood very quickly what was going on and they were shocked with a system that, rather than protecting victims, crushed them if they spoke and broke the silence.
What seemed a way to solve their discomfort was not a path strewn with roses. It started at the very moment of the interview with the president of the Equality Committee, in which almost everyone who was a member of the Commission was present. They dedicated themselves to criticizing the thesis, even one of the members of the committee who was not a PhD. And they also criticized me and the research group that has always supported me. But the motivations of this work were so clear that their rejection and treatment were the result of the injustice that motivated me to continue. For this first rejection we came to the supposed agreement that the thesis would not include any allusion to the role of the Dean or the Equality Commission in the course of the report, or the lack of support for the victims. However, that didn’t turn out to be enough. The second rejection came when the Dean was not satisfied that the thesis did not mention her complicity but demanded that the thesis include many parts written by her explaining that she was in favour of the victims and against the harasser.
However, since my commitment to the international scientific community does not allow me to lie, there seemed to be was no any solution to the situation. Finally, I found a way, introducing her many words in my thesis but in quotation marks, making it clear that they were his textual quotations, without assuming them as mine. This act, together with the first conference on Second Order Sexual Harassment held in Barcelona, the judicial sentence of the professor of the University of Seville also accused of sexual harassment, and other articles in the country’s most widely read press that explained the truth of the facts, made it possible for the thesis to be finally defended.