University of Rochester connection to Time's Person of the Year

December 06, 2017 11:47 PM

Time Magazine has selected its 2017 Person of the Year, and there is a local connection.

The "silence breakers," people who spoke up about sexual harassment, were named the Person of the Year. Their actions, including those by a group at the University of Rochester, created a worldwide movement.

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About three months ago, eight University of Rochester professors broke their silence about what they called sexual harassment happening at the school. They told News10NBC they sought justice, and not attention.

"We asked the president, we asked the provost, the chair of our department, the deans," said Dr. Jessica Cantlon, a University of Rochester Associate Professor. "Nobody would even apologize."

Dr. Cantlon joined seven others to share allegations of sexual harassment and retaliation at the hands of Dr. Florian Jaeger in the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences. Members of the group thought they would be believed and supported. They expected an apology.  They didn't think their stories would land them in the pages of Time Magazine. 

"The idea that Time would acknowledge what we've done and recognize it as something positive and we're surrounded by all these other women in their fields," said Dr. Celeste Kidd, a University of Rochester Associate Professor. "That's not something that I could not fathom," 
"This is something really different than what we've seen in the past where women were pressured to stay silent and keep these abuses secret," Dr. Cantlon said.

Dr. Kidd and Dr. Cantlon are among a group of now 16 faculty and students who have come forward and accused Dr. Jaeger with sexual harassment and retaliation. 400 professors from around the world have gone public with their support of the group, so have University of Rochester alumni. But Dr. Kidd and Dr. Cantlon said the one thing the group wanted still has not happened.

"What we're complaining about goes beyond the actions of this single faculty member and includes the response of all of these leaders at the University of Rochester who are supposed to support and protect students and have failed us," Dr. Cantlon said.

The Time Magazine Person of the Year issue hit newsstands Wednesday.


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