I was recently featured on an episode of Speak up for Blue, because in January I testified for HB913 before the Virginia House of Delegates Post Secondary and Higher Education Subcommittee.
I contacted my state delegate, Dan Helmer, in November 2019, because I was and am deeply concerned about the way my university mishandled my Title IX complaint against a fellow graduate student. As I describe in the podcast, little was done to help me feel safe at my place of work and study, even as the university needlessly dragged the investigation out over six months. For the entire investigation, I told no one at the university. This silence left me isolated and miserable. I even doubted if I would be able to graduate.
Testifying in Richmond gave me my voice back.
It was a nerve-wracking but rewarding experience, and I’m thrilled to note that the bill passed. Delegate Helmer has promised he will continue strengthening protections for students and I feel relieved that my voice has resulted in something that can help other people.
While I wish I had been able to talk to Andrew Lewin about my research, I am so thankful he provided a platform for me to discuss my experience and express my concerns. I hope that telling my story will allow other scientists to know they’re not alone, and also compel scientists and organizations to become more proactive about their harassment and discrimination policies. There’s a lot of room for improvement when it comes to sexual assault and harassment in STEM. I hope I get people thinking, talking and making changes.
Following my assault, I seriously considered leaving science forever. Since being honest about my experiences, I have been honored and humbled by the incredible supportive response from the marine science community. I am so thankful to be able to do what I love surrounded by such amazing people.