A black former Harvard professor dubbed a ‘genius’ was ousted after sexually harassing two assistants and making inappropriate jokes, a new documentary claims.
Rob Montz’s investigation into former economics professor Roland Fryer – the youngest person ever to be tenured by the august institution – was supportive of the academic, who was Harvard’s best paid scholar and earned $600,000-a-year.
Montz claimed Fryer had been driven out in 2019 by woke colleagues angered by his contrarian views on race and equality, who then trumped up instances of mere ‘camaraderie’ in a bid to get rid of him.
The incidents which ruined Fryer’s career center on claims of harassment made by two former assistants.
Fryer, who is married to Harvard biology professor Franziska Michor, cracked jokes with the first assistant about how he’d break his bed if he was single.
He is also said to have made a dig about an unnamed senior administrator claiming that they hadn’t had sex since black people were slaves, and quipped that he’d learned his negotiating skills while trying to get laid at high school.
That assistant was later fired, after Fryer condemned her work, and told her that ‘his three year-old could do better,’ according to the documentary.’
The doc explores the suspension of tenured Harvard professor Roland Fryer,(pictured) a prominent economist who was considered one of the rising stars of his field
In March Brown University grad Rob Montz (pictured) released 25-minute documentary entitled ‘Harvard Canceled Its Best Black Professor. Why?’
After the woman was booted, her severance package was cut by $25,000. Fryer’s lawyers reportedly later claimed that instance of penny-pinching sparked allegations which later snowballed and effectively ended Fryer’s career.
A second personal assistant then came forward, presenting Blackberry messages when Fryer is overtly flirtatious, including jokes about moving to southern France and asking if she wants to come and instances where he texted her from a fundraiser and told her if she were with him he’d bite her.
‘He was very flirtatious with her, probably more than he should have been,’ former New York Times reporter Stuart Taylor concedes. ‘She was a subordinate so that was a that was a bad decision.’
Montz argues that Fryer was ‘cancelled’ because he challenged norms at Harvard and that while some of his behavior was unprofessional, it did not warrant suspension
The suspension sent shock waves at the time as Fryer was a high-profile black academic in a field lacking in racial diversity, making him one of the university’s most admired researchers.
He was rounded on by two other high-ranking black Harvard staffers – Claudine Gay, a scholar of African-American studies, and Larry Lobo, the college’s Dean of Social Sciences.
Fryer infuriated the pair with claims that the concept of systemic racism had been exaggerated, and that there were simple ways of closing the attainment gap between black children and their white peers, it is claimed.
He is said to have sparked further woke fury by alleging that, while African-Americans did have more violent encounters with police officers, statistics showed that white suspects were as likely to be shot dead by cops as black people.
Gay and Bobo were both on the board who decided Fryer’s fate. Bobo announced Fryer’s lab was being closed, and suspended him for two years, while Gay called for Fryer’s tenure to be revoked.
They did so despite Harvard itself recommending that he should only undergo workplace sensitivity training.
The investigation brought to an end a glittering career that came in the face of considerable adversity.
Fryer had an extremely tough childhood and lived with an abusive father, and was hailed for propelling himself to immense professional success.
He has brought at least $33.6 million in grants to the university, according to his Harvard web page, and at the age of 30, became the youngest ever academic to be offered tenure.
Fryer has defended himself against all such allegations and claimed his lab was a place where academics of all genders found freedom and success.
In his documentary, Montz argues that Fryer was ‘cancelled’ because he challenged norms at the institution and that while some of his behavior was unprofessional, it did not warrant the punishment.
Investigators passed their recommendation to a small committee of high-ranking administrators, which included Claudine Gay and Larry Bobo (pictured)
Claudine Gay (pictured) even asked the university’s president to revoke Fryer’s tenure, an effort Montz called ‘industrial strength cancellation’
Fryer has defended himself against all such allegations and claimed his lab was a place where academics of all genders found freedom and success
Montz, who went through hundreds of pages of communications between Fryer and his personal assistant who accused him of sexual harassment, says the overwhelming impression he got from the messages was ‘not sexual tyranny, its like straight up camaraderie.’
As he goes through the messages Montz says Fryer is ‘occasionally, mildly sexual’ such as jokes that if he were single he’d need a better bed, but that the exchanges were reciprocal and his former assistant would also send pictures of herself at a work party and text him that she ‘was getting a little intoxicated.’
According to Former New York Times reporter Stuart Taylor, some time around 2014 and 2015 the relationship soured and Fryer would text her things like ‘my three-year-old could do this better than you did’ before she is eventually fired.
Tanaya Devi, a former research assistant says the former assistant was one of her closest friends and she left on ‘a very sour note’ and ‘she wanted just plain old revenge’
After being fired the former assistant logged 38 instances of sexual harassment, which was reduced to just six by investigators after they found several were ‘deliberately false,’ Taylor says in the doc.
But despite the inappropriate texts, Investigators found Fryer never sexually propositioned or made sexual advances on a single woman in his office and Harvard’s own investigators determined that Roland’s punishment should be workplace sensitivity training.