Caltech Students Protest Return of Professor From Suspension

A professor at the California Institute of Technology who was suspended for allegedly harassing his graduate students was back on the campus this month, prompting dozens of students to protest on Tuesday afternoon, reports BuzzFeed.

Christian Ott, a professor of theoretical astrophysics, had returned to the campus to observe a student’s thesis defense. The news website reports that dozens of students sat in silence in the astronomy department, and one carried a sign that declared, “To support a safe working and living environment for all members of the Caltech community. We support you. You are not alone.”

Some students also sent a letter to Caltech’s president, Thomas F. Rosenbaum, about Mr. Ott’s presence on the campus.

“To continue delaying but not outright banning Ott’s return to campus puts all students at Caltech, but especially female graduate students, in a state of uncertainty and fear for the future,” the letter said.

Mr. Ott, BuzzFeed reports, is scheduled to return to the campus in the fall semester.

Farnaz Khadem, a university spokeswoman, told BuzzFeed that Caltech recognizes people’s right to “freely express their views,” and that it hadn’t been decided if Mr. Ott would return to teaching.

The university’s administration, in a 2016 message to the campus, said that it had suspended a professor without pay for an academic year and that it would bar him from coming to the campus. Though the message did not name the professor, Science magazine identified him as Mr. Ott.

BuzzFeed tried without success to reach the professor for comment.

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