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Okay, am I the only black person in the world who missed this?

Just checked the Guardian’s website. A great granddaughter of Charles Darwin (?), Ruth Padel, has become the first woman to win Oxford University’s professor of poetry position, which is revered here in the UK.

However, Derek Walcott, the St Lucian poet, was the frontrunner to win the position until an anonymous person[s] sent a letter to 200 Oxford academics. The Guardian writes:

after a dossier detailing sexual harassment claims made against him by a Harvard student in 1982 was sent anonymously to 200 Oxford academics.

This is so bizarre. I had no effing idea that this happened. Walcott subsequently dropped out of the race, citing attempted character assasination.

Does anyone know more about this? According to the student who alleges sexual harassment, the following happened:

The student alleged that while discussing her work with Walcott after class, he asked her to “imagine me making love to you. What would I do? … Would you make love with me if I asked you?” After rejecting his approaches, she was then given a C grade in his class.

What the F? My feelings on the situation are like this – and especially as a feminist, innocent until proven guilty. He is a respected professor and world renowned. We must be careful not to support witch hunts and why didn’t the people come forward with their identification?

I should reiterate that the allegations were never proven, however, Walcott was sued for sexual harassment in ’95 by a student of Boston University.

Why do it anonymously like that? Smells like sabotage to me. This is very sad and disheartening.

An academic at Oxford said: “”I’m also aware that Byron’s life was not stainless, or TS Eliot’s for that matter – would we turn them down?” — Exactly! Byron’s life was definitely not perfect either.

I am in no way condoning sexual harassment. I think it is wrong and disgusting. However, the allegations were never proven. I don’t see how that should have affected Walcott doing his job.

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