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UCLA Discrimination dispute settled October 18, 2006

Posted by C.A.R.D in Card, Citizens Against Racism and Discrimination, Discriminate, Discrimination, gender discrimination.

The university put the lid on a years-old dispute, settling a case with a professor who had claimed gender discrimination and who had been accused of inappropriate behavior.

In early 2005, the university brought charges against Dr. Sally Blower, who was then a professor in the biomathematics department of the UCLA School of Medicine, accusing her of threatening students and harassing faculty.

Blower has left the Department of Biomathematics and is currently a professor in residence at the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior and the Department of Psychiatry.

Though trouble had been brewing through 2004, the matter came to a head in early 2005 when the university brought charges against Blower.

In an article published in April 2005, Science magazine reported that the charges against Blower included failure to hold examinations as scheduled, use of her position to coerce students, verbal abuse, false statements and disparagement and harassment of faculty members.

At the time, Blower vehemently denied all of the accusations against her. She told the Daily Bruin in April 2005 that the charges were “ridiculous.”

She and her husband, Nelson Freimer, now a UCLA professor of psychiatry and behavioral science in the neuroscience department, claimed the university was trying to push her out of the department.

But now her tune has changed completely.

A statement released by the university on Tuesday said Blower “acknowledges that over the course of several years her behavior was at times inappropriate.”

The statement also read that Blower admitted “her disparaging statements about the Department of Biomathematics … and the university were unwarranted. … Professor Blower further acknowledges that she has not been the subject of gender discrimination, retaliation, harassment or improper exclusion of departmental activities,” the statement read.

There were many competing accusations and claims surrounding the case in 2005 – with some defending her, some attacking her, and others attributing the situation to a hostile working environment and gender discrimination against Blower.

But now all those opposing voices are silent.

According to the press release, Blower and the university have “agreed to make no further public statements” and university officials said no one at UCLA would be able to comment on the case or the settlement.

Susanne Lohmann, a political science professor, said she is a friend of Blower’s and has followed the case closely for several years. In the past, she has been vocal about the circumstances surrounding Blower’s case.

But now she said she is unable to say anything.

When asked to discuss the case and the recent settlement, Lohmann said, “No comment. I am not allowed to speak to you.”

Source: The Daily Bruin

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