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History professor at centre of harassment allegations will have no contact with students this year

CW: Sexual harassment

The History Faculty has announced that Professor Peter Thompson has agreed that he will not have any contact with students this year, after allegations of inappropriate behaviour were widely publicised following an Al Jazeera investigation. He will also not attend events by the History Faculty and Rothermere American Institute.

Professor Thompson is the current Sydney L. Mayer Associate Professor of American History at Oxford, with research interests in Colonial North America. A former student described Professor Thompson getting drunk and engaging in physically inappropriate behaviour with female students. In 2020, the University upheld complaints of excessive alcohol consumption and sexual harassment against Professor Thompson.

In an email sent to history students, the Faculty said that media coverage of the allegations against Professor Thompson “suggested that the University took no action in response to complaints raised in 2019-20″.

“We would like to reassure you that the complaints against Professor Thompson were fully investigated by the University and that follow-on disciplinary action was instigated. As a result of this, measures were implemented to ensure that the conduct was not repeated and to safeguard staff and students. Monitoring is being undertaken and any breach of those measures will be acted upon,” they continued.

The Faculty are inviting students with questions and concerns to attend a faculty-wide “Listening Exercise” on Friday 12th November at 2-3:30pm on Microsoft Teams. Along side the faculty board will be at least one of the faculty’s harassment officers.

“Everything learned during the course of the Listening Exercise will feed into the work of the Complaints Procedures Working Group established at the end of Trinity Term 2021. The Listening Exercise will not be the only opportunity for students to comment: we will shortly be recruiting student members to that group, and we will seek further input through the Athena-SWAN project on gender equality in the History Faculty, the Race Equality Action Group and through the Faculty’s Gender, Race, Disability and LGBTQ+ Working Groups,” they said.

The Faculty encouraged students with concerns to contact a member of the harassment advisor network. Further support can be found at the University’s Student Welfare and Support Services, Counselling Service, Sexual Harassment and Violence Service, and the SU Student Advice Service.

Image: Maxine Gtn/CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons

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