Back in August, we reported that Dartmouth College had settled with several women who sued the school over the sexual harassment they allege they endured in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences. Previously, we reported how three Dartmouth professors in this department who were under investigation by the school for sexual harassment are no longer under the school’s employ with two having resigned and one having retired. We now have some very sad news to report: David Bucci, the chairman of the department, the man who was charged with overseeing these students and professors, has committed suicide.
Dartmouth Professor Who Oversaw Psychological and Brain Sciences Department Dies by Suicide
As Anemona Hartocollis reports for The New York Times in a piece entitled “He Was Accused of Enabling Abuse. Then Came a Downward Spiral,” “When a group of graduate students wanted to alert Dartmouth College to sexual misconduct by three professors, David Bucci was the one they turned to. He was the chairman of the department where the students and professors worked, and he reported the accusation to the college administration. So he was blindsided when seven female students later named him in a lawsuit against Dartmouth, accusing him of looking the other way and intimidating those who had spoken out. He grew deeply distressed, his wife and closest colleagues said, especially after he was advised not to complicate the litigation by defending himself publicly. The ordeal eventually brought back the crippling depression he had been treated for years earlier. Some colleagues shunned him. A woman at his food co-op called him a ‘disgusting human being,’ said his wife, Katie Bucci. In October, 11 months after the lawsuit was filed in late 2018, he took his own life. He was 50.”
Sexual harassment has no place on college campuses. It had no place in Dartmouth’s Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences. And while we majored in this field at this very school and studied under some of the very professors who have been accused of sexual harassment, we only had positive interactions with all professors in the department. But, of course, that doesn’t mean these professors didn’t do what they were accused of. They may very well be guilty of placing some women in the most uncomfortable of situations, of harassing them sexually, and for that they should be deeply ashamed of themselves. A settlement in the lawsuit doesn’t mean they did all of what they were accused of either; it merely means the parties agreed to a resolution of their lawsuit. But it’s so very sad nonetheless to read of the sadness that ultimately crippled the department’s former chairman, a man who was not accused of sexual harassment himself but was accused — rightly or wrongly — of doing little to stop it. We thus join the Dartmouth community by mourning the death of David Bucci. It is a tragic development in a very sad chapter in the school’s history and our hearts break for his family.
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