P. was awarded with a competitive predoctoral fellowship (named FPU) acknowledging her brilliant academic record and because of the CV of her advisor and research group. Yet her department was dominated by harassers and, breaking all the rules and all moral criteria, they manage to have her lose that fellowship. Her advisor and her research group were the ones that had broken the silence about gender violence in universities and the student herself was actively involved in the platform against gender violence. One of the sentences that those people told the student was: “the problem is not you, the problem is the people you have decided to join”. They acknowledged she was one of the most brilliant students they had ever had, but they did not want to have a person committed to the struggle against male-chauvinist violence in their department which, being of a university known as public, they administered as if it were a private property of the harassers.
Cheerful because having managed to make her out, the department conspired so that never no one from that research group could gain a contract. International solidarity made possible that they could not take away the second fellowship that she was awarded given the same merits (a FI fellowship, similar to the FPU one). Nonetheless, when the period of the fellowship finished, they vetoed her to gain another contract and she had to leave to another university. United by their unspeakable interests and dynamics, it was easy for them in examining boards to make assessments that excluded those who had more international merits.
The exercise of violence in the university context does not always happen in a direct and clear manner. In some occasions, harassers cannot make it that way because of various reasons -despite none excuses them-. In this case, with the will to continue perpetuating the law of silence and showing an exemplary punishment which shoos potential help, they decided to go for the most vulnerable, this is, to go for students with fellowships. And in so doing, to employ other people as executing arm.
The professor who is the protagonist of this story had always been involved in diverse struggles for the rights of all women. For her, to break the silence in universities and to achieve the implementation of mechanisms to stop harassers was a priority. Her positioning was public, and that had meant to her receiving multiple attacks, but her labor situation impeded harassers and their allies be able to expel her from the university. So, they decided to direct their actions against those who are the most vulnerable, and those above whom they had power to harm directly: the students with fellowships working with this professor and other students that collaborated with her.
The cowardice of the harassers led them try to act from the shadows, making other people -who accepted to be manipulated- act as executing arm. This led to the consequence that one student that had been selected to gain a predoctoral fellowship of four years -related to a research project led by the aforementioned professor- lost that fellowship. This way, in a despotic manner, via the direct attack to one student they managed to attack the professor too. In two occasions, in public meetings, the harasser boasted of having been him the person that organized that plan. In the words of the professor when leaving one of those meetings: “I don’t know what has been harder, whether the attack itself or seeing how the rest of people looks at the other side thinking that in such way they will be safe”.
The tireless struggle of this professor, with the help of other colleagues, made it possible for this student to eventually gain another fellowship, as well as a written commitment, on the side of the university, that made explicit that never again it would be permitted that other students had to go through the same situation.
Their silence had not freed some of the people who looked to the other side from receiving attacks. Only the total submission could had freed them. Those who allowed to be manipulated and then have been aware of it, nothing allows to repair the harm of the past. Yet their courage when acknowledging it and even taking a position is joining forces in making our universities spaces that are safer for the future generations.