|Last year the IFR ran 57 archaeology field schools with 380 students from all over the world|
|Out of the picture: Former IFR exec dir Ran Boytner|
Those who have been following this blog over the past several months know that I have been reporting on a complicated series of related incidents of misconduct and coverups involving the University of California, Santa Barbara; UCLA's Cotsen Institute of Archaeology; and the Institute for Field Research. The dramatis personae have included UCSB archaeologist Danielle Kurin, found guilty in a Title IX proceeding in 2016 of retaliating against students who complained about sexual harassment by her partner, Peruvian archaeologist Enmanuel Gomez Choque; the UCSB administration, which kept the truth from the university's anthropology department and allowed Kurin to come back to teaching and research; Ran Boytner, former executive director of the IFR, who knew about Kurin's misconduct but allowed her to run an IFR field school in 2018, where two female students were sexually assaulted by Gomez; Boytner's own long history of sexual misconduct, bullying, and retaliation; the IFR governing board and most notably its current chair, Cotsen Institute director Willeke Wendrich; and most recently, the UCSB Title IX office, which has now ruled that a sexual assault complaint filed by a student at the 2018 IFR field school must be closed because it did not take place in the US (thus jumping the gun on a Trump administration Title IX rule change that does not take effect until August 14.)
As I said, this is a very complicated story with lots of moving parts, but readers who have not followed up until now can catch up by clicking on the four links above, which include all of my reporting so far on these subjects.
It turns out that among members of the archaeological and scientific communities reading my blog posts were graduate students at UCLA's Cotsen Institute. On May 29, 19 of the grad students (representing just under half of the total students enrolled at the Cotsen), sent a letter to the Cotsen faculty. This letter led to a Zoom Town Hall which took place yesterday, June 11, details of which I will relate below. The letter is two pages long, but let me excerpt some relevant parts:
Dear Cotsen Faculty,
In recent weeks, it has come to the attention of the graduate student body of the Cotsen
Institute that the board and director of the Institute for Field Research (IFR) - both intimately
connected to the Cotsen itself - have come under serious scrutiny by the archaeological
community. The disturbing allegations against Danielle Kurin, current Assistant Professor in
the Anthropology Department at UCSB and IFR Academic Board member from 2016-2018,
and Ran Boytner, Executive Director of the IFR and former employee of the Cotsen
Institute, are very troubling and merit discussion within the Cotsen community. We hope
that in writing this letter, students of the Cotsen can gain clarity on this matter and
reassurance that future incidents of this nature will be addressed in a fair and transparent
Both of the individuals named above have been connected to the Cotsen Institute in some
capacity during this academic year. Kurin was invited to speak at the Cotsen Pizza Talk
Series this Spring quarter. Upon learning about the charges against her, students took
action to disinvite her. In the past, Boytner has also been permitted to enter undergraduate
classes at UCLA to recruit students for IFR field schools and has attended numerous talks
given at the Cotsen. Will Boytner be permitted to enter classes at UCLA or to attend Cotsen
talks, either virtually or in person, in the future? As students enrolled in the Cotsen
Archaeology and Conservation programs, we are concerned for the reputation of our
institution as well as our safety within the Institute and in the field.
The letter goes on to list four main allegations, sourcing them with links to my blog posts, and asks the faculty to "respond in full" to them. The letter concludes, "we hope that the entire Cotsen community--faculty, students, and staff--can engage in a dialogue to determine how we can all feel safe and supported in any environment that we work in."
The Town Hall meeting.
Although the Zoom meeting was invitation only, two individuals who participated provided me with, in one case, very detailed notes, and in the second case, a full video recording of the meeting. While I occasionally paraphrase what was said, the exact quotes I provide below are based on careful transcription and so I do not expect them to be challenged.
The format of this meeting was as follows: Richard Lesure, a MesoAmerican archaeologist in the UCLA anthropology department, acted as moderator. Most of the questions from students, submitted either ahead of time or in the chat box, were responded to by Wendrich. In addition, Jason de Leon, another UCLA anthropologist and member of the IFR's academic boarrd, made a number of comments.
The meeting was also attended by a bevy of guests from the UCLA administration: Natalie Ann Landau, the university Ombudsperson, who took an active role; Andrea Kasko, chair of the Graduate Council; Darnell Hunt, Dean of Social Sciences; David Schaberg, Dean of Humanities; and Mohammed Cato, director of UCLA's Title IX office.
During the meeting, a number of outright lies were told about this reporter by Willeke Wendrich and Jason de Leon, which I will deal with at the end of this report. But first, I will hit the highlights of what was discussed.
The meeting began at 2:06 pm Pacific Coast time, June 11. The first 40 minutes or so covered the history of the IFR, its structure, its relationship with UCLA and other institutions under whose academic wing it had operated (field school students receive academic credit for attending, although they pay their fees directly to IFR), as well as the formal sexual harassment policies and procedures that IFR has adopted.
Finally, at 2:40 pm, Wendrich was asked the question that had never publicly been answered all these months: "Does Ran Boytner currently work for IFR at all?" Wendrich responded, "No," thus providing the first official acknowledgement that he had in fact been fired, after running IFR since its inception in 2011. (This was already obvious, as his name had been removed from the IFR Web site many weeks before, without explanation.)
This was followed by questions about Kurin's own tenure on the IFR board in 2017 and 2018, and the fact that she had even volunteered to be on IFR's sexual harassment committee. As I previously reported, and as Wendrich acknowledged during the meeting, IFR "severed all ties" with Kurin after Gomez committed sexual assaults at the 2018 field school.
There was then a lot of discussion of the allegations in my blog posts, which Lesure pointed out was the "catalyst" for the letter from the grad students that led to the meeting. Willeke and de Leon denied my charges that at least some members of the IFR board knew about Kurin's history before the 2018 field school. Wendrich in particular branded my claims "ridiculous." (I stand by my reporting on that; see last section.) Wendrich and de Leon talked about their actions when misconduct were made against Kurin by students at the 2018 field school, and the investigation they undertook which led to the severance of ties between IFR and Kurin (covered in my blog posts.)
One clear feature of the statements made about Boytner was an obvious attempt to distance the governing and academic boards from the actions of the organization's long-time executive director. De Leon, for example, said that Boytner took no "public stance" about the charges against Kurin and "didn't take [it] seriously at the time."
Wendrich added that "there are things we cannot talk about" but that "there was a breach of trust between the IFR board of governors and Boytner, so we terminated our relationship with the founding director, Ran Boytner is no longer executive director. These are personnel matters, we are opening ourselves up to litigation if I say more."
Wendrich was also asked about the allegations in my reports that Boytner had sexually harassed and bullied staff members. "I cannot go into detail," she responded, but said that she had tried to mediate a situation involving Boytner and a staff member. "Ran Boytner has an aggressive way of addressing people, and if you know him, you know that it's pretty innocent, but if you don't know him so well it can be conceived as being threatening...let's just say that human relations are not his forte."
Wendrich declined to comment on Boytner's own Title IX proceeding at UCLA in 2009, although de Leon claimed he was not aware of it until I reported the details. But apparently to make sure that Boytner was thrown completely under the bus, Lesure suddenly came out with the following revelations at 3:36 pm:
"Setting aside my moderator role, my only contacts with the Ombudsman office have been over Ran Boytner [who had been a student at UCLA.] He was the worst [teaching assistant] I ever had, he was bullying a female student, we worked in out back in 1996 with the Ombudsman's office. [That] helped me realize what a bully [he] was, and his pattern of bullying behavior towards me resulted in my not speaking to him for 20 years."
This comment drew a furious look from Wendrich and raised eyebrows among almost everyone else, for good reason. If UCLA faculty knew back in 1996 that Boytner was a bully, how did he end up having a career leading one of the world's most important archaeology field schools?
Soon after, the meeting devolved into a discussion of IFR's future, which, several of its leaders pointed out, should be bright. (Although the 2020 field season was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic, the institute hopes to begin again in 2021 with a new staff and presumably a new executive director--right now the governing board is serving that role.)
Shooting the messenger means enabling predators and bullies.
As I mentioned above, a number of lies were told about me and my reporting, in a situation where I had no ability to counter them and where the grad students and others attending might well have been tempted to believe them. Although no one likes to be lied about, including me, there is a larger issue here: By trying to discredit a reporter who is exposing misconduct, and who for the past five years has helped victims and survivors of abuse find their voices, attacking me is a subtle way of siding with the predators and enabling them. I want to be brief, but here are the main lies that were told:
1. Willeke Wendrich stated beginning at 3:07 pm that I come up with "ridiculous allegations," asked her to respond to them, and then didn't use her answers. This is a lie. As much as I could get Wendrich to say to me, I published on the blog posts. It is true, as she said, that at one point I said she was lying about what she knew; I stand on my previous reporting about why I think that.
2. Jason de Leon beginning at 3:09 pm accused me of lying or misrepresenting things. He stated, correctly, that I asked him to talk to me about the situation; I thought he might do so because he played a good role during the debacle last year when the Society for American Archaeology allowed a known sexual predator to attend the meeting in the presence of his victims. (It's disappointing that some supposed #MeToo advocates lose their commitment as soon as the allegations hit closer to home.) However, de Leon went on to say at the meeting that I had trolled him on Facebook and Twitter (false) and that I was one of the "anonymous" commenters on my own blog (a complete lie, although there are a lot of comments.)
3. Jason de Leon stated that I "tried to sell" the stories of victims "to the New Yorker behind their backs." This is one of the most egregious lies of all. It is true that I talked to The New Yorker for several months about my investigation into paleoanthropologist David Lordkipanidze of Dmanisi fame, one of the worst sexual predators out there; that was done with the knowledge and permission of the two sexual assault victims that story concerned.
Similar comments, by both de Leon and Wendrich, included accusations that I posted anonymously on my own blog (again, a lie) and that I pressured victims and survivors to talk to me and be part of my stories. In the case of the Kurin and IFR stories, that is just laughable, as nearly all of my sources were students and staff who came to me and asked for help telling their stories. This has been the case for most of my reporting, especially the past few years, as I have gained a reputation for doing this kind of journalism.
As part of the attempts to discredit my reporting--which, in essence, is an attempt to discredit the experiences of the survivors by shooting the messenger--Boytner and IFR leaders continually referred to me as "a blogger" or "the blogger," as if the way investigations are published somehow reflects on their quality and thoroughness. I dealt with this issue in a piece last year in the Columbia Journalism Review, which I recommend. Blogger or no, I use the same rigorous reporting methods I learned over more than 40 years of doing journalism, including 25 years at Science magazine.
I hope that my reporting on the failure of the institutions mentioned here, along with this inside look at the thinking that leads to these failures, will encourage young researchers and their true advocates (and not just the fair weather friends) to keep up the fight for a more equitable environment in academia and the sciences, one free of abuses of power and all the evils they bring.)
June 13: Additional thoughts on Title IX, Connecticut College, and the role of journalism
I'm very gratified at the attention that this and earlier blog posts about misconduct in archaeology have received. My update on the Danielle Kurin Title IX case has generated some 12,000 page views, since this report was posted there have been more than 9000 additional page views as of Monday the 15th (not too bad for a "rinky-dinky Website," as Jason de Leon called it during the June 11 Town Hall.)
Since the Town Hall lasted nearly two hours and covered a lot of topics, I was only able to give a fairly succinct account above. One question that did come up, however, was whether IFR was covered by Title IX. The answer, supplied by Willeke Wendrich, was no--as a private institution it was not. Wendrich did say, however, that IFR had its own internal anti-harassment policies and that it could do its own investigations, as it did in the case of Danielle Kurin's 2018 field school. However, despite Wendrich's statement that IFR publicly cut ties with Kurin afterwards, I have not been able to find any evidence of such public statements. And when I repeatedly asked Wendrich to point me to them, she did not respond. My conclusion is that this is at least partly a falsehood, and that anything IFR communicated to the archaeological community was done through the typical "whisper network" (if I am wrong, Wendrich and other IFR leaders are free to correct me in a comment on this post.)
(Re the "whisper network," to quote University of Pennsylvania PhD student Sam Seyler on Facebook:)
"The whisper network in anthropology, while designed to protect victims, continues to protect the abusers."
At other times during the meeting, Wendrich suggested that legal considerations would prevent IFR from saying much about misconduct by anyone associated with the institute; that leaves questions about whether fear of litigation would lead IFR to "pass the harasser," as it in effect did with Kurin (twice.)
However, students participating in IFR field schools receive academic credit for their work, which raises another question: Are the accrediting institutions liable under Title IX for what goes on in the field schools? As of today, universities and colleges are responsible under Title IX for abuses that take place outside the USA, although new Trump administration rules are poised to come into effect on August 14 that would restrict Title IX jurisdiction to within the US. (Those rules changes are likely to be challenged in court, and at any rate were obviously not in effect during any of the episodes described in this and my earlier blog posts.)
At the Town Hall, beginning at 2:14 pm, Wendrich told the group that IFR had gone back and forth between being accredited by UCLA Extension and Connecticut College, a private liberal arts school in New London. Wendrich said that Ran Boytner preferred UCLA Extension because he "thought it was better marketing." But Wendrich says she was "not happy" with that and since 2018 IFR has been back with Connecticut College.
Why Connecticut College? I have not had a chance to look into this, but perhaps someone out there reading this blog knows the answer, or could suggest hypotheses. I don't want to speculate, but these days the imagination can run wild... more on this later.
Breaking: I see someone has now weighed in on this in the Comments section. Take a look. In earlier posts I have suggested that a thorough, independent, outside audit of IFR's finances is long overdue.
Finally I just wanted to say one more thing about the role of journalism in ferreting out abuses in academia and other walks of life. Not in a million years would Wendrich, de Leon, or other IFR leaders admit that the reporting of a journalist had anything to do with Ran Boytner being terminated as executive director of the organization he helped to found and through which he found his personal identity (and his power to harass and bully others.) And yet the brave survivors of abuse who turned to a journalist because they could not get heard any other way would no doubt credit the power of exposure and publicity with this important result--as would any other honest observer.
I will close with my favorite quote about journalism, by the great Czech writer Milan Kundera:
"The power of the journalist is not based on the right to pose a question, but on the right to demand a response."
Update June 14: Ran Boytner's animal cruelty?
A colleague writes:
"You can add animal abuse to the list of Ran Boytner’s transgressions. In 2015, I attended an IFR field school in Chincha Peru, and witnessed him grab a pregnant cat by the tail and sling her out the gate of our compound. Never before had I witnessed such disgusting behavior toward an animal. I did report this to [Charles] Stanish upon return to the US (Stanish had already departed Peru at the time of the incident.) He seemed disgusted, though not particularly surprised. I let it go, content that I’d never have to work alongside Boytner again, but happening across your blog post, felt compelled to speak up.
"She was a stray, but Charles Stanish had allowed her in, and she was loved by (most) of the students. Ran was of the opinion she shouldn’t be there. But that’s not how you handle an animal, especially a pregnant one. Who grabs an animal by the tail and throws it? I cried for hours. It was horrifying."
|The cat that Boytner abused.|
(In the minutes after I posted this, two colleagues wrote in. One was at the field school when Boytner threw the cat and corroborated that story; another pointed out that he hated animals in general.)
Update June 20, 2020: Danielle Kurin's misconduct cost UCLA Extension more than $40,000
I reported earlier that two days after the University of California, Santa Barbara concluded that Peruvian archaeologist Enmanuel Gomez Choque had sexually harassed students during a 2015 field school and that his partner Danielle Kurin had retaliated against students who reported it, IFR and UCLA Extension cancelled Kurin's 2016 field school for "health and safety" reasons. Documents just released to me by UCLA, pursuant to a California Public Records Act request, indicate that UCLA Extension paid $43,256.48 to IFR for reimbursement of expenses the students and the institute had incurred.
Some of the students were already in Peru, and all had paid the tuition for the field school and bought airline tickets. Although IFR was able to transfer some of the students to other field schools, a number asked for full refunds and many of the airline tickets were nonrefundable.
It took several dunning letters from Boytner to get UCLA Extension to pay up, however. Boytner first sent an invoice to UCLA on August 11, 2016, but by October IFR had not received the funds.
"We did all the hard work," Boytner wrote to then UCLA Extension academic dean (and now IFR board member) Kevin Vaughn and other UCLA officials on October 15, "dealing with upset students and parents over the Peru-Sondor program and shielded [university extension] from the consequences of a decision we had no part in making. It is now time for you to do the right thing and send the check to IFR as soon as possible." Boytner added that IFR was very short of funds and needed the money to meet its October payroll.
This final letter seems to have worked. The documents indicate that a check for the full amount was sent to IFR on October 24, 2016.
I have reported that Kevin Vaughn knew about the Title IX findings against Kurin and Gomez at the time they were handed down, and that Boytner also knew. Nevertheless, Boytner falsely told colleagues then and later that Kurin had been exonerated.
Update June 25: The following detailed commentary about the Town Hall has been circulating around the UCLA archaeological community and beyond. While I have not had time to fact check every detail myself, it does seem to be a valuable addition to the conversation, so I am pasting it here.
One issue I am particularly interested in from the standpoint of the defamation suit Kurin has filed against me: Kurin stated in the complaint that IFR had dissociated itself from her "without prejudice," as if they had found only her partner Gomez and not her to have committed misconduct. Ran Boytner's previous on the record statements and the statements of board members referred to below flatly contradiction that assertion, and make clear that Kurin's own misconduct was a major factor in the decision. IFR permanently severed ties with her.
In the aftermath of the June 11 Town Hall meeting, below are comments, fact-checks, and additional questions raised in response to the statements and claims made by some of the speakers. The purpose of this commentary is to encourage a more transparent and retaliation-free trialogue between the Cotsen community, UCLA, and the IFR. Feel free to share and circulate.
[11:55] Wendrich: “I used to be Chair [of the IFR] around 2013, but I stepped down when I became director of the Cotsen because I thought those two roles didn’t sit so well.”
- Fact-check: According to her online CV, Wendrich was Chair of the IFR for five years, between 2012-2017. She became director of the Cotsen in 2016. In September 2017 she was replaced at the IFR by real estate developer Yuval Bar Zemer, whom she refers to in the meeting as “a great donor to the IFR.” According to Internet Archive and IFR public tax records, the very same month that Wendrich passed that position to Bar Zemer, he loaned (not donated) $100,000 to the IFR. This topic was covered in more detail by the commentators in Balter’s blog.
[18:33] Wendrich: “The Institute for Field Research started at UCLA, and I was not at all involved at that point.” She repeats this again later in the meeting.
- Fact-check: As many at the Cotsen Institute well know, Wendrich ran several seasons of her field school at Egypt through the program that Boytner established at UCLA (http://www.archbase.com/
fayum/). She later ran the same field school through the IFR. As she further acknowledges, her husband Hans Barnard was on the committee that vetted the programs for the Cotsen. Sources reports that the two were, and may continue to be, very close friends with Boytner. It therefore surprised no one when Wendrich became a founding member of the IFR in 2011 and the first Chair of the IFR Board in 2012.
[19:03] Wendrich: “We all know that field school in the past, and even nowadays, are sometimes kind of almost student slavery. Students are put in the trench to dig, but they don’t really get any education.”
- Comment: Several people who attended the meeting felt that Wendrich’s use of the word “slavery” in such a context was extremely insensitive, especially in this day and age.
[24:51] [31:05] Somewhat contradictory comments, between Wendrich who stated: “UCLA graduate students who go with a UCLA faculty member to the field, don’t pay for a field school”, and Hans Barnard who stated: “In some field schools we ask graduate students, or we have asked graduate students, to contribute towards housing and food and stuff.”
[25:31] Wendrich: “We don’t have any field schools run by graduate students. You have to have a PhD at least… only established scholars or scholars who don’t need to subsist on the field school funds are accepted as field school directors.”
- Fact-check: Both Wendrich’s field school in Ethiopia and Chip’s field school in Peru were co-directed by their Cotsen graduate students, and promoted as such on the IFR website. The graduate students at Chip’s field school were often left to run the field school on their own.
- Last year all IFR field schools that were directed or co-directed by Cotsen affiliates and former UCLA graduate students in Ethiopia, Italy, China, and India, were closely tied to Wendrich.
[22:40] Wendrich, contradicted herself when asked about the role of IFR in her Cotsen-based project “[In Ethiopia] I work with students from four different universities, and with faculty from four different Ethiopian universities. I could never afford that if I wouldn’t have this extra funding.” But then- [27:25] “I basically run my fieldwork from my endowed Chair. And in the case of the Ethiopia field school, the only reason that I run a field school, apart from thinking that it’s a really good principle to allow students to learn things in the field, is that it allows me to involve the Ethiopian students. So I could run my project without IFR, but then I couldn’t have that pedagogical part of it.”
- Questions: Does this means that Ethiopian students are paying for the program? If so, are they paying full tuition? If not, why do you need the IFR to involve them? Can’t students from the host country participate even if it is not a US-based field school?
[28:55] Wendrich: “Ran Boytner had a salary paid from the income from those field schools. So he was kind of a freelancer at the Cotsen Institute of Archaeology.”
- Fact-check: Ran Boytner was a Research Associate at the Cotsen Institute since 1998. Starting in 2007, Boytner became an employee at the Cotsen with the official title of “Director for International Research.” This position came with an office, resources and supports, access to students and volunteers, and a fixed annual salary with full UCLA benefits (some report an annual pay of at least $60,000 in 2010.)
[35:27] Wendrich: “There was an [IFR] office… in March we had to give that up”.
- The IFR address was updated on their website only on June 11, immediately after a visitor (a student?) went to visit the posted address and reported on Balter’s blog that they found it empty. The fact that the offices had been evacuated was also not communicated to the IFR field school directors.
[35:34] Wendrich: “Very early on, we canceled all our summer 2020 field schools because it was just irresponsible to even think about sending people in the field.”
- Fact-check: prospective IFR students, including at UCLA, report that although the IFR promised to cancel the programs when State Department Level IV travel warning will be issued, it took them a week after this issuance to declare cancellation on March 25. At this point, summer programs across campus had cancelled their programs in early to mid-March, so it was definitely not “very early on.” Reports were also logged of students who were ignored their demands for tuition refund at least 6 or 7 weeks after the cancellation date. This topic was covered by several complaints made by commentators on Balter’s blog.
[35:45] Wendrich: “The moment we canceled all the field schools, we looked at the financial situation and it was clear that we had to give up the office, which we did, lay off the personnel. And from that moment on the board of governors… stepped in in the role of the executive director and managed everything.”
- Fact-check: All IFR staff members were removed from the IFR website in April, with the exception of Ran Boytner who was still listed there up to May 4th. According to IFR field school directors, on April 24th they received a letter from the board (backdated to April 11th), in which Boytner is also listed as a board of governors’ member. This indicates that Boytner was not laid off in April-May, but was actually promoted.
[38:04] Wendrich: “The [board] chair was Yuval Bar Zemer, a real estate developer, and a great donor to IFR.”
- The public IFR tax records show that Bar Zemer loaned (not donated) $100,000 to the IFR in September 2017, the same month he took over the board chair position from Wendrich. The same tax records show that majority of the loan has yet to be paid. A commentator on the blog also adds this important point: “Not sure about NPO rules & regulations on having a major (and only?) financier also filling the chairperson position, but it definitely raises ethical questions as to the timing of the appointment and what interests are guiding the organization.”
[44:40] Wendrich: “Connecticut College offered to provide credit… I thought Connecticut College did an amazing job, and we had a very good relationship.”
- As a commentator on Balter’s blog specifies: “I was involved as staff on an IFR field school in 2014. During that field school, I spoke about project finances with Anthony Graesch, who was involved with the founding of IFR and continues to serve in IFR leadership. Graesch got his PhD at UCLA, and was then a postdoc at UCLA until he became faculty at Connecticut College in 2010.
Graesch told me at that field school that Connecticut College was chosen to manage credits for students, because the College cut a special discounted tuition rate for IFR via Graesch. I understood this to mean that IFR was able to pocket a greater amount of the fees charged to students; the students' overall fees did not appear to be lower after the switch to the College's cheaper tuition (compared to CSUN or UCLA). Students were not presented with a breakdown of how their fees were spent.”
- Question: It was demonstrated that many of the IFR board members were or are UCLA employees and/or graduates, including Willeke Wendrich, Jason de Leon, Lynn Swartz Dodd, Anthony Graesch, Rowan Flad, Kevin Vaughn, and Chip Stanish (and maybe others.) Some of these board members coincided with Boytner at graduate school and when he served as the Director of International Research. Considering these close ties, can the board be considered an impartial and objective party when evaluating the actions of the IFR executive director?
[49:50] Willeke: “[Danielle Kurin] was briefly a member of the board in 2017, and she volunteered for the sexual harassment committee. After IFR found out of the problem in the field school in 2018, we severed all ties with Danielle Kurin.”
- Fact check: According to the Internet Archive (WayBack Machine), Danielle Kurin was an active IFR board member for two years and eight months, between February 2016 and October 2018. This means she was still listed as an IFR board member at least three months after the incidents at her 2018 field school. This is covered in more detail by commentators in Balter’s blog, with the added observation “Both Willeke and Jason were board members together with Kurin, so it is out of the question that they simply forgot when, and how long, she had served alongside them. Whether they will admit it or not, Kurin was serving on the IFR board and the IFR sexual harassment committee while she herself was under an active Title IX investigation.”
[57:15] Ernestine Elster asked: “I want to know if IFR publishes a financial statement at the end of each year, if indeed it is a 501-C3 organization. And who owns it?”.
- These important questions were not addressed by the IFR representatives in the meeting.
[1:06:06-1:09:48] Wendrich and De Leon refer to Michael Balter and his blog with the following words: “ridiculous allegations”; “uses a lot of heresy, which he presents as facts”; “he is known to anonymously comment on his own blog with incendiary remarks”; “he always will provide the most negative interpretation of intentions, purposes, and objectives”; “either lying, or misrepresenting what has been said”; “aggressive and incredibly questionable tactics”; “much of what he has about the IFR is an outright lie.”
- Comment: the IFR representatives condemn Balter’s reporting, but other than blanket statements of denial fail to present any new evidence that contradicts any or all allegations against them. Since Balter supports his allegations with official documents, students’ testimonials, employees’ testimonials, and numerous comments from the public (including one from a former IFR board member), by dismissing Balter as a liar and not even investigating whether the above represent valid concerns, the IFR board further dismisses all those victims as liars without any due diligence.
[1:09:48] De Leon: “[Balter] keeps insisting that all of us at IFR knew that Danielle Kurin had a Title IX allegation against her. We did not know that. We knew that she had been put on leave. She described that to the IFR board, to all of us, as something related to how a student had filed a complaint against her husband in the field, and she described the student as incredibly racist. And that was the extent of our knowledge of what was going on. When the field school ran again in 2018, and then for the first time IFR received notice of what had been going on, we conducted a very thorough investigation and found that, you know, that bad things had happened and that she should not be near students at all, and we immediately cut ties with her. But that was the first time that any of us on IFR board had any inkling that that stuff was going on. Had we known, and Balter had repeatedly accused IFR of covering up for Danielle Kurin, but there will be literally no reason for us to do that, because it just will make us look worse than ever… I find it very very offensive, especially as someone who was directly involved in the investigation process, that he would come out and question all of our integrity about this whole process. We reacted as quickly as we could, with the limited information we had at the time. And I will stand by that.”
- Fact-check and question: In his blog Balter suggests that some, not necessarily all, IFR board members knew about Kurin’s and Gomez’s Title IX investigations and findings. This is also further supported by Ran Boytner’s email published on the blog, and who suggest that at least Kevin Vaughn knew. In turn, it is suggested that this, or these, board member(s) may have failed to report to the others. Would De Leon be willing to consider this as a possibility of why he was unaware of these allegations?
- Questions: What does it say about the IFR board, almost all tenured professors with years of experience in academia, that they would readily believe that a faculty member in the UC system would be placed on a three-year administrative leave because a racist student filed a complaint against her husband? If the IFR is so thorough with its vetting of programs and scholars, how did they let such an individual become a member of the academic board, a member of the sexual harassment committee, and a director for several IFR field school without even looking into this? Aren’t they exhibiting the same dismissive attitude now, when denying the additional allegations raised by Balter?
- Question: Once the IFR board realized that Kurin “should not be near students at all,” did they alert students, faculty, and administrators at UCLA, UCSB, or elsewhere? Were de Leon and Wendrich aware that she was invited to give a Pizza talk at the Cotsen in the Fall?
- What makes De Leon, or any other members of the IFR board, qualified to investigate cases of sexual harassment in the field? Do they have proper training? Would it not be it a conflict of interest to investigate a fellow board member?
[1:12:08] De Leon: “[Balter] controls his little rinky-dinky website.”
- Comment: As someone deeply involved in the #MeToo movement and knows well that the voice of survivors, victims, and whistleblowers is often suppressed and relegated to these informal channels, describing Balter’s website as “rinky-dinky” is extremely condescending on De Leon’s part. Not everyone has a MacArthur grant funds to build a professional website and hire a team of employees and student volunteers to run it.
[1:12:20] De Leon: “Which is why I have refused to engage with him in any way, shape, or form.”
- Comment: You also refused to engage with the IFR field school directors in any way, shape, or form, although they requested clarifications from you and other board members on multiple occasions. These PIs complained that the board silence is damaging their reputation by association, as they are getting increased pressure from their respective administrations to explain why they are still affiliated with the IFR.
[1:18:42] Wendrich: “IFR is a non-profit 501(c)(3), and it does not operate under Title IX obligations. We do have a very strict policy, and actually we are also not bound by direct relations that Title IX office at the UC system is bound by. So we can stop our collaboration with someone if we think that a line has been crossed. If we find, however, that there is a Title IX complaint of a student, for student, against someone in a field school situation, we always report that to the Title IX office of the student’s [university or college] in question.”
- Comment and question: Wendrich’s explanation, immediately following Mr. Cato’s clarification that starting August 14 Title IX will no longer have jurisdiction on cases that happen outside the U.S., reveal that students in future IFR field schools will be even more vulnerable to harassment. How does the IFR plans to avoid cases like that of the student who was attacked in Kurin’s 2018 field school and is now being denied justice from UCSB, to repeat again? Now that UCSB has thrown the ball back to IFR’s court, will IFR help that former student?
- Question: How does the fact that the IFR does not need to comply with Title IX conforms with the statement that those measures “were designed to protect students from those in positions that are more powerful, to protect women and men from those who are more likely to be believed.” (Willeke Wendrich, 6 May 2020, Director’s Message on CIoA website.)
[1:20:52] In reply to the graduate students’ question whether Danielle Kurin ran an IFR field school even after members of the IFR board became aware of a previous Title IX violations against Kurin, Wendrich replied “Absolutely not. That’s ridiculous.”
- The same comments and questions asked above of De Leon on this topic, also apply here to Wendrich.
[1:21:13] Wendrich, when asked about the cases of sexual misconduct and retaliation against students in Kurin’s IFR field school in 2018: “This is a difficult situation, because our first concern is always the interest of the students. I can say, and that’s one of reasons that I’m really angry with Balter, because he abuses the victims by keeping after them and getting the story out of them. As Jason said, we have conducted an investigation… we interviewed all the TAs, all the people around this situation, and I can’t say anything more about that except that we immediately cut all ties with Danielle Kurin.”
- Fact check and question: Danielle Kurin remained listed as an IFR board member until October 2018, about three months after the field school in Peru concluded. The email to the students that she is no longer affiliated with the IFR was sent on October 17. Why did it take them so long to cut ties with her?
- Questions: Is there truth to the student’s testimonial in Balter’s blog that IFR did not interview her and others more than two months after the events? Were the IFR students satisfied with the results of the investigation? If so, why are they still communicating with Title IX offices and journalists?
- Questions: How does Willeke know that Balter abuses the victims? Did any of those victims complained to her? Did the IFR reach out to any of these former students who shared their story on Balter’s blog?
[1:22:30] Wendrich, when asked about taking a public stance in Danielle Kurin’s removal from the board: “You have to understand that a nonprofit like IFR will open it up to litigation if we are… too explicit about some things. There are privacy matters and we need to take those into account.”
- Question and comment: What about the IFR obligation to inform the archaeological community about a scholar who presents a danger to students’ safety? How many other field school directors the IFR cut ties with for similar reasons, and that community is unaware of?
[1:23:10] De Leon: “I will add that I did at one point go to Ran, once I knew about the things that happened with Danielle Kurin, I went to Ran and said, you going to have to do something about this, this is not an issue that’s going to go away, and Ran didn’t, he basically circulated that information to the rest of the board but took, made no public stance on this. So there was a conversation that we had with the DD, and was one that he didn’t take seriously at the time.”
- Comment and question: If De Leon was so concerned at the time and saw that Boytner was not taking this seriously, why didn’t he act himself? Wendrich explained that the IFR board is responsible for the conduct of the director. Was Boytner disciplined for not taking action as advised at the time?
[1:24:05] Wendrich, when asked about Ran Boytner’s sexist, racist, and bullying behaviours in many capacities during his tenure as founding member of the IFR, including sexual harassment in the field and the workplace: “There are things that we cannot talk about. Or things that I have not heard about. Even though I’ve heard rumours that there was an investigation. Let it be said that there was a breach of trust between the board of directors, or the board of governors, and the executive director. So we terminated our relationship with founding director of the IFR. Ran Boytner is no longer the executive director. And this relates to personnel matters, and as I said we are opening ourselves up to litigation if I say more.”
- Questions: As a board of governor member, why have you only heard a rumour about an investigation into the behaviour of the executive director? Who conducts these investigations? If the board, are they qualified and impartial?
- Question: Similar to the Kurin case, if indeed there is truth to these serious allegations and contact with Boytner jeopardize people’s safety, shouldn’t the community deserve to know regardless of the litigation risk to the IFR?
[1:25:22] Wendrich, on why the IFR took no public stance on the allegations in Balter’s blog: “This all happened while COVID hit, while we had to cancel all the field schools, while we had to lay off the personnel, get rid of the office, empty the office. IFR board has been keenly focused on its first priority, and that is the interest of our enrolled students who can’t go to the field this summer.”
- Fact check and comment: Balter first blog where IFR was mentioned was published on February 28. The field schools were canceled on March 25. The Town hall meeting took place on June 11. Wendrich expect us to believe that in those 16 weeks, the Board was simply too busy to make a statement regarding the serious allegations against their organization? If the interest of their enrolled students was indeed their primarily concern, clearing their name and putting their stakeholders at ease would have been a priority. Additionally many students were waiting over 6 weeks to even hear back from the IFR about their tuition refund, so obviously this was not your first priority.
[1:25:43] Wendrich “Upon the cancellation of the field schools, we have been making provisions for these students. We organized a six week online master class, so that these students, if they need credit, can get the credit to finish their studies.”
- Fact check: There is no information on the IFR website on who gives the credits to this online master class. It is not listed on the Connecticut College class schedule for Summer 2020.
[1:26:15] Wendrich “The board is of course aware that there are these inflammatory allegations… You really don’t want to give credit to something that has so little credit.”
- Question: Did the IFR conduct an investigation to check if there is no credit to the events and first-hand testimonials that Balter cites in his blog? If they had no doubt that none of these have credit, why wait 16 weeks before saying it?
[1:27:05] Wendrich, when asked if Ran Boytner will be allowed to participate in Cotsen events in person or remotely: “Ran Boytner is an alum of UCLA. He has not been accused of wreaking havoc at the Cotsen Institute of Archaeology. He is a colleague. If we have public lectures, then I have no reason to go and tell him that he is not allowed in. If someone wants to prevent from him from coming in, they have to make a complaint that will have to be decided on whether there is a reason to deny him access.”
- Comment: On the one hand Wendrich refuses to comment on the numerous allegations against Boytner improprieties in the field and in the workplace, but on the other places the responsibility of finding “reasons” to deny him access on her concerned community. Thankfully, Mr. Cato took a firmer stance and assured the audience that there are formal channels to deny campus access to anyone who potentially poses a safety risk to the community.
[1:32:04] Wendrich, when asked about whether she knew about IFR employees who complained about Boytner’s bullying and harassment: “I cannot go into detail. At some point, Ran Boytner asked me to come to the office, because one of the personnel members said she did not feel safe. And I had a conversation. My conclusion was that this was really a matter of personal style. Ran Boytner has an aggressive way of addressing people. And if you know him, you know that it’s pretty innocent. But if you don’t know him so well, it can be conceived as being threatening. So I mediated in that case. The board did part with him. And let say that human relations is not his forte... [1:34:31] “As far as complaints about bullying and racism, I think this is mostly based on a misunderstanding. It’s a complaint of one particular personnel member. And other than that I really cannot go into this.”
- Fact check and question: In this email posted on Blater’s blog, Ran Boytner claimed that there was a formal investigation into this complaint with an ad-hoc committee of three board members and an HR specialist. Wendrich, on the other hand, states “At some point, Ran Boytner asked me to come to the office, because one of the personnel members said she did not feel safe. And I had a conversation. My conclusion was that this was really a matter of personal style.” Who is correct here?
- Questions: If the IFR employee made a complaint about sexual harassment, bullying, and retaliation against Boytner, what made Wendrich qualified to investigate such critical matters? As a board member and colleague (and friend?) of Boytner, isn’t she biased? Why doesn’t she believe the employee’s story now, when she reported it on Balter’s blog?
- Questions: Is it true that Wendrich recommended to use a “safeword” in the office? Is it true that this employee was fired 10 days after Wendrich submitted her report on the incident?
- Fact-check and comments: The Cotsen community is well aware of Ran Boytner’s bullying behavior towards faculty, students, staff, and employees, ever since he was affiliated with the Institute as the Director of International Research. Moderator Lesure comment pushed it back to 1996 when Boytner was a TA in his class, but there are certainly other numerous reports which Wendrich was informed about in and outside the IFR. Former IFR board member Jade d'Alpoim Guedes wrote in a comment on Blater’s blog “I also quit because of what I learned about how IFR staff were treated.”
- By trying to dismiss this as a “misunderstanding” involving one employee, Wendrich is clearly siding with, and continuing to enable, a known bully and abuser.
[1:34:15] Wendrich, when asked whether she can comment on Boytner’s sexual harassment case at UCLA: “I can’t say anything about what happened at UCLA. Although the blog has published a lot of things about that. And if I read that then this is not sexual harassment.”
- Comment and question: It seems that Wendrich suddenly considers here the Blog as a reliable source of information. Regarding the last sentence, if the UCLA documents that Balter quotes are authentic, then at best this is a case of a professor who, while in a remote UCLA field school in a foreign country, reveals to his student that he loves her and discusses matters of a very personal nature, all against her will. At worst he solicits sexual favors, stalks her, and grabs her. In both scenarios, the student evidently rejects his advances up to a point where she has to leave the program. One way or the other, this falls under UCLA’s definitions and policy of sexual harassment: https://policy.ucop.edu/doc/
- Can Wendrich clarify why she does not consider Boytner’s behavior in his field school as sexual harassment? This may clarify why she also dismissed the IFR employee’s story.
- Wendrich also fails to comment on how Boytner was able to keep his position in the Cotsen Institute for over a year after the events, even though former director Charles Stanish prohibited him in writing to engage with undergraduate students without a third party present.
[1:35:11] De Leon: “I would just add, that the allegations against Ran Boytner, about things that have happened at UCLA, as a Board member, I was unaware of any of those things until reading that actual Blog post. I had no knowledge of any of the things that happened at UCLA until Balter published that piece about Ran Boytner. Many if not all of our Board members, except for those who cannot speak legally, were also unaware of those things.”
- Comment: De Leon takes a contradictory stance to his earlier statements on the credibility of Balter, by actually crediting the blog for revealing to him and the other board members the allegations against Boytner. De Leon further acknowledges that there are IFR board members who due to legal restrictions, are still not able to comment about Boytner’s case from 2009.
- Questions: If certain board members knew about Boytner’s case at UCLA (and Chip certainly knew), how do they justify aiding him in establishing, and then joining, a global organization that is responsible for thousands of students in the field?
[1:35:45] Moderator Richard Lesure: “Maybe I should set aside my moderator role for a moment, and say that all of my contacts in 25 years at UCLA, my only contacts with the Ombuds office, have been over Ran Boytner. He was the worst TA I ever had. And he was bullying a student, a female student, and we worked it out back in 1996, it was a long time ago, we worked it out with the Ombuds office, who was incredibly helpful in making me realize what a bully Ran was. And then his pattern of bullying behavior towards me since then has resulted in me actually not speaking to him for the last 20 years. Someone needs to say a little bit of the other side of Ran Boytner.”
[1:36:50] Wendrich: “WHICH OTHER SIDE?”
- Comment: Thank you Richard! Many who attended the meeting agree here that Wendrich’s retort to Lesure’s heartfelt comment was absolutely appalling.
[1:36:56] Wendrich: “As said. The board has severed ties.”
[1:38:00] Wendrich, when asked if Ran Boytner will be banned from campus since Charles Stanish prohibited him from interacting with undergraduate students without a third party present, and whether this letter can be shared: “I don’t think so. This falls under the Title IX case that apparently was against him.”
- Comment: If this poses a risk to her community, can she as current director of the Cotsen Institute ask to see the letter of her predecessor? Wouldn’t the Cotsen have a copy of the file?
[1:39:37] Wendrich “IFR is actually mo… at least as strict as UCLA in its anti-harassment and discrimination policy. And there is a very strong policy in place, where the Title IX offices will be involved for students who are involved in situations like that.”
- Comment: see above regarding IFR, UCSB, and the new Title IX regulations.
[1:42:05] Wendrich: “Of all the field schools, the 61 field schools who are offered in 2020, 60 will continue and will be offered in 2021, if everything goes well.”
- Fact-check: A quick survey among some faculty members shows that, at this point, this is a very optimistic assessment by Wendrich that does not accurately reflect the wishes of the current IFR field school directors.
- Comment: Wendrich spoke personally with the field school directors several weeks after the IFR promised the students that the majority of the field schools will be offered in 2021. In those conversations, she reported to some that Boytner is no affiliated with the IFR, but was very vague on the details. The PIs are still waiting for a formal statement.
[1:42:20] Wendrich: “We are providing content for students over the summer, and make sure that if they need the credits, they can get them.”
- See comment above regarding Connecticut College.
[1:42:41] Wendrich: “We will need to communicate something, even though I’m very hesitant to react to anything that comes out of the Balter blog.”
- See the many comments above regarding damages caused to the community by continuing to keep silent.
[1:43:47] Wendrich: “The [IFR] model is extremely important. And that’s why I put all this work into this organization now. That is why I go through all these miserable allegations. And I can tell you, I am not a happy person… It’s a very aware and very ethical organization.”
- See the many comments above.
Update July 14, 2020: More details on the lawsuit against Ran Boytner and UCLA.
(Note: The paragraphs below have been slightly modified from the update posted here July 13 and a few additional details added.)
(Note: The paragraphs below have been slightly modified from the update posted here July 13 and a few additional details added.)
As I reported earlier, in 2009 former IFR executive director Ran Boytner was subject to a Title IX investigation for allegedly sexually harassing and assaulting a student at his field school in Peru. Although UCLA found him technically not guilty of harassment, he was admonished by the director of UCLA's Cotsen Institute of Archaeology, Charles Stanish, for his conduct, and told that he could not have unsupervised contact with students. I also reported that the victim in this case later sued Boytner and UCLA (apparently because she was dissatisfied with UCLA letting him off the hook) and that the case was eventually settled.
I now have a few more details about this case, which was filed in the California Superior Court in early 2011. The victim's complaint was based on four allegations: Battery, sexual battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and negligence.
The negligence allegation was directed at UCLA. The plaintiff argued that the university failed to protect her from Boytner, but UC countered that it had no information about any previous misconduct by Boytner and thus could not be held responsible. The university tried to get a quick summary judgement in the case, but was apparently unsuccessful. Then, on April 28, 2011, the case was officially settled. I cannot at this time determine how much money the victim got in the settlement, other than to say it was substantial. The majority was paid by the University of California, and a much smaller amount by Boytner himself. The fact that there was a settlement, and the terms of the settlement, were supposed to remain confidential.
The negligence allegation was directed at UCLA. The plaintiff argued that the university failed to protect her from Boytner, but UC countered that it had no information about any previous misconduct by Boytner and thus could not be held responsible. The university tried to get a quick summary judgement in the case, but was apparently unsuccessful. Then, on April 28, 2011, the case was officially settled. I cannot at this time determine how much money the victim got in the settlement, other than to say it was substantial. The majority was paid by the University of California, and a much smaller amount by Boytner himself. The fact that there was a settlement, and the terms of the settlement, were supposed to remain confidential.
The important point here is that despite Boytner's claims that the university did not find him guilty of sexual harassment (technically true, although his conduct was so egregious that were it today there is little doubt that the outcome would have been different), he and the university were forced to pay compensation to the victim.
The question remains what the board of governors of the Institute for Field Research knew about both the 2009 Title IX and the 2011 monetary settlement. The Institute for Field Research, with Boytner as its founding executive director, was established in March 2011, according to the origins story on its Web site--the month before the case was formally settled. (After Boytner was terminated, this origins story was altered to remove all mention of him.)
Perhaps someone might ask IFR leaders, especially Willeke Wendrich, what they knew and when they knew it.
Update July 16: Has Ran Boytner really been terminated as executive director of IFR or not? Today I wrote to him and several IFR board members in connection with the defamation suit Danielle Kurin has filed against me, instructing them to preserve all their records for the case as is usual in such litigation. Here is the auto response I received from Boytner:
Perhaps someone might ask IFR leaders, especially Willeke Wendrich, what they knew and when they knew it.
Update July 16: Has Ran Boytner really been terminated as executive director of IFR or not? Today I wrote to him and several IFR board members in connection with the defamation suit Danielle Kurin has filed against me, instructing them to preserve all their records for the case as is usual in such litigation. Here is the auto response I received from Boytner:
9:41 AM (2 minutes ago)
I checked out Balter's claims about Boytner's original departure from UCLA (see blog post: http://michael-balter.blogspot.com/2020/03/chief-of-international-archaeology.html), and they seem to be true, based on some publicly available court filings I found. In fact, both Ran Boytner and Charles "Chip" Stanish are named with University of California in that case!
Balter, I think many people will look forward to further reporting on these issues, particularly as further corroborating evidence becomes available.
It seems that they felt they could lie to everyone about that because they are not aware of the WayBack Machine website (https://archive.org/), which captures webpages over the years (direct links below.) According to this, Danielle Kurin first appears as an IFR board member in FEBRUARY 2016, and then disappears from the board in OCTOBER 2018. That means she was an active IFR board member for TWO YEARS AND EIGHT MONTHS, and not “briefly… in 2017” as Willeke falsely claimed. It is equally damning that she was still listed as an IFR board member at least THREE MONTHS AFTER the incidents at the 2018 field school, so they obviously did not sever ties immediately after finding out about what had happened to the students.
Both Willeke and Jason were board members together with Kurin, so it is out of the question that they simply forgot when, and how long, she had served alongside them. Whether they will admit it or not, Kurin was serving on the IFR board and the IFR sexual harassment committee while she herself was under an active Title IX investigation.
And then Jason has the audacity to say “I find it very very offensive, especially as someone who was directly involved in the investigation process, that [Balter] would come out and question all of our integrity about this whole process.” This is not about Balter going after them. These are facts that anyone can check for themselves. And it is very clear who is lying here. I am so disappointed right now in both of them that I just want to cry.
February 18, 2016 (Kurin first appearance on the IFR board)
October 19, 2018 (Kurin last appearance on the IFR board)
It's not surprising to me that Chip supported Ran even after the sexual harassment in the Peru field school. Chip dated several grad students, and even one former undergrad. All that may have been technically within the rules, but it wasn't exactly ethical.
Do you seriously expect your community to feel safe with these type of circular statements?
Graesch told me at that field school that Connecticut College was chosen to manage credits for students, because the College cut a special discounted tuition rate for IFR via Graesch. I understood this to mean that IFR was able to pocket a greater amount of the fees charged to students; the students' overall fees did not appear to be lower after the switch to the College's cheaper tuition (compared to CSUN or UCLA). Students were not presented with a breakdown of how their fees were spent.
“Important message for students who enrolled in any of the 2020 IFR field schools: Enrollment for the Master Class in Field Research is now open. Follow this link to learn more: ifrglobal.org/ifr-online-master-class/”
Is this also through Connecticut College? It doesn’t seem to be listed on their class schedule:
If the UCLA documents that Balter quotes are authentic, then *at best* it is a case of a professor who, while in a remote UCLA field school in a foreign country, reveals to his student that he loves her and discusses matters of a very personal nature, all against her will. At worst he solicits sexual favors, stalks her, and grabs her. In both scenarios, the student evidently rejects his advances up to a point where she has to leave the program.
Either way, this reads like it falls under UCLA’s definitions and policy that I attach below. So I am hoping that Willeke can further explain why she thinks this is NOT sexual harassment, and I would also be interested to hear more from Mr. Cato of the Title IX Office.
2. Sexual Harassment: a. Sexual Harassment is unwelcome sexual advances, unwelcome requests for sexual favors, and other unwelcome verbal, nonverbal, or physical conduct of a sexual nature when: i. Quid Pro Quo: a person’s submission to such conduct is implicitly or explicitly made the basis for employment decisions, academic evaluation, grades or advancement, or other decisions affecting participation in a University program, activity, or service; or ii. Hostile Environment: such conduct is sufficiently severe, persistent or pervasive that it unreasonably denies, adversely limits, or interferes with a person’s participation in or benefit from the education, employment or other programs, activities or services of the University, and creates an environment that a reasonable person would find to be intimidating or offensive. b. Consideration is given to the totality of the circumstances in which the conduct occurred.
Richard Lesure talks about Ran Boytner
I love how fast Wendrich gives him the stink eye and dismisses the story as irrelevant while poised before her pharaonic monumental inscription. The brazen attitude of these people is truly astounding. Wendrich, De León and their ilk operate through power groups associated with awarding institutions as well both around Los Angeles and nationally - the Getty, the Smithsonian, the NAS, the MacArthur Foundation - and refer to each other's clout in dealing with each other's problematic colleagues. That is why the PI's, faculty and staff remain anonymous because these people are notoriously loyal to each other even if they are caught wrong doing. As bullies, they will continue to do everything they can to slander anyone who questions them or their motivations. Stanish is coaching from the sidelines here.
However, the clincher came in the 2nd part of the meeting, when De Leon very clearly needs to get this point across:
“I would just add, that the allegations against Ran Boytner, about things that have happened at UCLA, as a Board member, I was unaware of any of these things until reading that Blog post. I had no knowledge of any of the things that happened at UCLA until Balter published that piece about Ran Boytner. Many if not all of our Board members, except for those who cannot speak legally, were also unaware of those things.”
In this instance De Leon is willing to throw Boytner under the bus and take Balter’s blog at face value, rather than question again the validity to those allegations. In addition, he clearly implies that some Board members did know, but out of legal reasons did not say anything. So while De Leon is trying to cover his own ass with another “I had no knowledge” statement, he only manages to reveal the hypocrite that he truly is.
“There are things that we cannot talk about, or things that I have not heard about, even though I’ve heard a rumour that there is an investigation”.
As a board of governors’ member, you “hear rumours” of an investigation into the improprieties of the director? What kind of an organization is this? And now that you are the co-chair and took over the director’s role, can you get access to that investigation report and share it with your community?
A. Balter is lying. Ergo: addressing any and all allegations is unnecessary.
B. Boytner was terminated.
C. Due to risk of litigation and privacy matters, we are not at liberty to say
anything about why Boytner was really terminated from the IFR; we are not at
liberty to say anything about Boytner’s bullying, racists and sexist conduct
with employees; we are not at liberty to say anything about Boytner’s sexual
harassment case at UCLA; we are not at liberty to deny Boytner continued
access to the Cotsen; we are not at liberty to say what happened in Kurin’s
field school in 2018; we are not at liberty to say anything about Kurin’s
ongoing Title IX cases at UCSB; and we are not at liberty to make public
statements about IFR PIs who harass students.
D. The future of the IFR looks bright.
“DARVO refers to a reaction perpetrators of wrong doing, particularly sexual offenders, may display in response to being held accountable for their behavior. DARVO stands for "Deny, Attack, and Reverse Victim and Offender." The perpetrator or offender may Deny the behavior, Attack the individual doing the confronting, and Reverse the roles of Victim and Offender such that the perpetrator assumes the victim role and turns the true victim -- or the whistle blower -- into an alleged offender. This occurs, for instance, when an actually guilty perpetrator assumes the role of "falsely accused" and attacks the accuser's credibility and blames the accuser of being the perpetrator of a false accusation.
Institutional DARVO occurs when the DARVO is committed by an institution (or with institutional complicity) as when police charge rape victims with lying. Institutional DARVO is a pernicious form of institutional betrayal.”
Not surprised at all that Boytner took this path in his earlier statement, but I thought that de Leon and Wendrich were better than that. I guess I was wrong.
Institute for Field Research (IFR)
June 12 at 4:02 PM ·
Like you, the global pandemic caused us to stop, reflect, and adapt. The IFR’s concern for the safety of students, staff, and the communities in which we work, caused us to cancel our Summer 2020 field school season. We made other difficult decisions such as closing our office and laying off staff.
While we are still working in uncertainty with regard to the virus, we are thrilled to be able to communicate with you all again! Our next season will bring valuable, exciting experiential education and field research to aspiring archaeologists or any student who wants to experience the excitement of being in the field! We believe our programs will offer immense value to students at a time when the personal and social cost of failing to understand history and study our differences - whether in the past, present, or future - is astronomically high.
Who is working at IFR? Presently, IFR is managed by a volunteer Board of Governors, and quality control of field schools is overseen by our Academic Board https://ifrglobal.org/board-of-directors/. IFR staff members include Wendy Perla Kurtz, Ph.D.; and two returning staff members: Ana Eyssimont; and Miriam Bar-Zemer https://ifrglobal.org/about/staff/
You can find more information regarding our Covid-19 response, board and staff inquires, and more on our website: https://buff.ly/2RcYcCS
What I’ve learned in this Town Hall meeting and ensuing “virtual hallway” conversations, is how the Institute for Field Research is completely ill-suited to protect students in the field. Wendrich and De Leon repeated in the meeting that the IFR has robust anti-harassment and discrimination policies. Having robust policies means absolutely nothing if you don’t have an effective system in place to enforce them. I summarize some of the key points that I’ve gathered, since I feel this discussion can be extremely relevant to any student who are thinking of applying to IFR programs in the future:
.- As it turns out, only students are required to sign the IFR policies on harassment, discrimination, and code of conduct. Faculty or staff are only asked to read and “become familiar” with those. That’s a major loophole in case the perpetrator is a faculty member or affiliated staff (such as in the case of Kurin’s field school.)
.- IFR does not contact the program instructors’ respective universities/title IX offices to check if they have any recorded violations. They do not conduct any sort of criminal background check. They do not check if PIs had sexual harassment training at their home institutions.
.- IFR claims that they conduct sexual harassment orientations. These actually consist of a few minutes in an online meeting about a month before the field school, and another one that IFR asks the PIs to conduct at the beginning of the fieldwork. The IFR, however, does not provide the PI with guidelines or training on how to conduct those orientations.
.- IFR tasks their field school directors and staff with solving policy violations in the field, BEFORE an IFR representative is brought into the picture. However, they do not provide any training to those field school directors in harassment prevention, arbitration, or resolution. The IFR does not asks to see proof that their field instructors ever had such basic training in their home institutions.
.- According to reliable sources, the 24/7 emergency hotline that IFR provides to their students in case they want to report an abuse directly, is Ran Boytner’s personal phone number (or at least was, if he was terminated.) If the allegations against him at UCLA and IFR have any validity, then this compromised any complaints students may have made to him about sexual harassment in the field.
.- When something serious happen, the IFR launches an internal investigation. By their own admission, Kurin’s case was investigated by De Leon and Wendrich, along with other board members. These board members, I suspect, are not specifically trained or qualified to investigate serious matters such as sexual harassment and assault. For example, according to Wendrich, part of the investigation process may include sending a board member to intervene in the field. Experience shows that an unprofessional intervention can cause more harm than good, especially in early hours and days when the emotional state and mental health of the victims are at their most fragile state.
.- By the nature of the IFR model, the board has both a professional and a business relationship with the PIs and their projects. Therefore, this fact alone makes them unsuited to conduct an impartial investigation if the accused is a faculty member (in Kurin’s case, she was still an IFR board member when investigated by the board. By Wendrich’s admission, her field school was one of the most popular IFR programs, which of course translates to one of the most profitable to the IFR.) This relationship undermines the IFR investigatory process at its core.
.- It was not clear from the Town Hall meeting who actually controls these investigations and their reporting. According to De Leon, once he found about Kurin’s transgressions he complained to Boytner, but Boytner did not take these concerns seriously and took no stance.
.- According to Wendrich, the IFR is a non-profit 501(c)(3), which means that they are not obligated to follow Title IX regulations like with any regular university. Wendrich explained that the IFR is also not bound by direct relations with the faculty that Title IX offices at universities are bound by. That much is clear. While UCSB placed Kurin on a three-year administrative leave during and following her title IX investigation, the IFR welcomed her as a board members and let her run field schools. I found De Leon’s excuse that they all thought this prolonged administrative leave was due to a racism complaint by a student against Kurin’s husband to be either exceptionally naïve, or hiding a more sinister truth.
.- Wendrich claimed that they report every title IX violation to the office at the student’s home institution. Unfortunately, with the new title IX regulations universities will no longer be held accountable for incidents that happen outside the US. Case in point, the very unfortunate story of the student who was sexually assaulted in Kurin’s Peru field school, and which UCSB now denies all responsibility by claiming that this goes back to IFR’s jurisdiction. I am personally not a big fan of journalists, but I can completely understand why this and other students are now turning to this blog in order to tell their stories and demand justice.
.- According to Wendrich, since the IFR is a non-profit, they will not take a public stance against any accused party for risk of litigation. Putting self-preservation before the safety of the archaeological community is extremely unethical and negligent, especially when it comes to potentially dangerous faculty and staff members who continue to engage with students beyond the IFR field school.
By posting these collective concerns here, I hope that the IFR, or at least those representatives who spoke at the Cotsen Town Hall meeting, will find it important enough to fix their faulty system and ensure the safety of the students who go to their programs. Otherwise, it is up to the archaeological community to stop them before more harm befalls our students and faculty.
Did the IFR offer any explanation to UCLA Extension what the "health and safety" concerns were when they cancelled the field school? It seems to me that if Ran (and possibly the board of the IFR) knew that the field school was being cancelled due to concerns relating to Gomez and Kurin's conduct, the IFR should have been held responsible for paying the costs. It's the IFR's job to vet the field schools and the directors before making the courses available to the students.
Frankly, even if the field school was cancelled due to reasons unrelated to the Gomez/Kurin allegations, I still do not understand why UCLA (and by extension the state of California and its residents) were on the hook for $43,256.48? Based on everything I've heard about the IFR, UCLA and Connecticut College don't really play any role in vetting the field schools for safety. They seem to leave that responsibility up to the IFR. If a field school turns out to be unsafe and there is a financial fallout, the IFR should be solely liable for those. Does the IFR have some sort of disaster insurance coverage?
When faced with ethical issues, archaeologists tend to split hairs until the problem appears disintegrated. Scholars of Indigenous studies point out that NAGPRA-adverse archaeologists focus on ambiguities driven by cultural and genetic data, rather than approaching reconciliation with exploited, oppressed communities . Prominent archaeologist Michael E. Smith denounced addressing #MeToo concerns via SAA ethical principles – stating that his behavior as a scientist does not concern archaeology as a science . (I could be accused of cherry-picking the Prof. Smith example, yet the SAAs has been widely criticized for a weak response  that fails to offer a louder narrative.)
Archaeologists also resist change and prefer to maintain decades-old status quo. Scholars demonstrating that increased data transparency and reproducibility would facilitate innovative perspectives are marginalized . Anecdotally, PhD programs in North America require costly, labor-intensive fieldwork even when open-source data are available. Critics of the “performative informality” culture of archaeology, which promotes unsafe and inequitable scholarly environments, are shushed for “inability to have fun” .
Cotsen students explicitly sought from faculty solutions for regulating IFR faculty conduct. Aside from promoting the commercial success and good intentions of IFR, Prof. Wendrich and Jason De León used the time to split hairs: that the journalist’s platform is a blog, lacking external review; the blog is simple in structure and style (“rinky dinky”); comments on the blog are often anonymous, raising doubt of their authorship; posts provide “only the most extreme anecdotes.” Neither praise of IFR nor nitpicking of the journalist’s platform addressed the issue of providing a safe and equitable environment for students in the field.
Cotsen students expressed alarmed at the survivor stories and fear of becoming victims. Rather than discuss actionable ways to ensure fieldwork safety, Profs. Wendrich and De León expressed incredulity regarding the journalist’s intentions. Prof. Wendrich noted that she is “very angry” at the journalist for “abusing the victims.” Prof. De León stated that the journalist is using survivors’ stories to make money and accrue web traffic. None of these points seem true or likely. The journalist’s other writing appears to be motivated by principles of equality, democracy, and solidarity. Perhaps the hardened career academic fails to understand why an individual would perform work for purpose other than payment, publication, promotion, or prize.
Five years out of the discipline and lacking a professional outlet other than the occasional adjuncting gig, I am still obsessed with further understanding how past humans lived. I believe that exploring the astonishing diversity of human social organization holds value. I am proud of my decade of involvement in archaeology. My training in data analysis and writing has served me well, and I generally regard my experiences both positive and negative as fruitful.
But I remain embarrassed by the archaeology community. I am grateful to no longer be enmeshed in their silent, dysfunctional family. I expect my doctoral alma mater, the archaeology community at UCLA, to do better than the status quo. I find it stunning and disturbing that Profs. Wendrich and De León emphasized the commercial success of IFR while dismissing legitimate concerns of ensuring student safety and equity.
It’s not just irresponsible. It’s criminal.
The Wari Field School (where harassment by Kurin’s husband took place)
Course Dates: June 16-July 15, 2018
The Sondor Field School (where Kurin is also listed as director)
Course Dates: July 21-August 18, 2018
According to Wendrich and De Leon the harassment took place on the last day of the Wari program, following which the IFR started an investigation that concluded that “bad things had happened and that [Kurin] should not be near students at all”.
I think the reason for why they let Kurin’s “popular” Sondor program run less than a week after students were abused is pretty clear ($$$), but would still like to know how Wendrich and De Leon can explain their way out of this one.
- why was UCLA Extension responsible for cancelling the class?
- why did Boytner demand (and receive) 43K from UCLA?
- what kind(s) of oversight did Connecticut College provide?
When did responsibility change? AND WHY?
Note the disclaimer on top of the “Overview”:
“Please note that this program does not award credits units at this time. Students will receive a certificate of completion at the end of the program. Students are encouraged to present the syllabus of this program to their advisers and petition their home university for awarding credit units internally. The IFR is standing by to help students with this endeavor”.
From what I can tell, this program is the only one that was not accredited by UCLA that year.
This is a major red flag. Did UCLA continue to refuse working with Kurin in 2017, while IFR continued to endorse her (she was still an IFR board member at the time)? Did UCLA explain to the IFR why they will not award the credits, and did the IFR explain to the students why they will not be awarded those credits? Did UCLA’s denial of credits was a factor in the IFR’s decision to switch to another school of record, Connecticut College, in 2018 (where yet another IFR board member was working)? These institutions have some serious explaining to do.
“USC School of Dramatic Arts Dean David Bridel resigned Thursday after his past relationship with a student was revealed at a town hall meeting.” “I fully accept that my behavior in 2009 demonstrated a failure in judgment and evidence of irresponsibility.”
All the while at UCLA Wendrich continues to lie and gaslight colleagues, students and staff by covering up her own failures in judgment and evidence of irresponsibility. Bruins, stand up against abuses of power!
(Willeke Wendrich, from her twitter account on April 8, 2011)
Ironically, this is also right about when she and Boytner created the IFR.
The IFR announced today that Dr. Julie Stein joins the Board of Governors. She was previously, and still is, listed also as a member of the Academic Board.
This vertical move may suggest that Stein is about to replace someone at the board of governors. Any thoughts or additional information from this blog readers are most welcome.
This is a few months after Danielle Kurin joined the board, so the two definitely coincided until they kicked Kurin out in October 2018. And as pointed out above, she may have played a role in this decision. Stein does not seem to be connected to the UCLA-IFR core founding group (according to IFR founding documents, 9 out of 10 of the academic board members have either coincided or worked directly with Boytner while he was at the Cotsen Institute of Archaeology, and may still be covering for his 2009-2011 UCLA sexual harassment complaint and civil lawsuit.) This may signal a positive change at the IFR upper management.
It may be useful to point out here these online tools that can help anyone interested in conducting their own research and drawing their own conclusions regarding the connections between individuals and institutions, without the need to rely solely on the word of those who work or worked there.
1. WayBack Machine/Internet Archive provides periodical captures of web pages. To view those of the Institute for Field Research:
2. To view those of the Cotsen Institute of Archaeology:
3. To view publically-available CA.GOV documents relating to the IFR, including the founding documents, see here (enter “Institute for Field Research” under Organization Name):
4. IFR tax records: https://apps.irs.gov/app/eos/ (enter EIN Number: 27-5556305).
5. The Superior Court of California webpage provides information on legal cases involving UCLA, IFR, and affiliated individuals.
If anyone thinks they found anything of value that can contribute to this particular discussion, especially where it comes to abuses of power structures, providing justice to those who were harmed, and preventing future cases of harassment and bullying in the field, please share with the others on this blog (with Mr. Balter's permission, of course.)
I’ve been following this discussion on tight-knit and self-serving, enabling, networks from the side-lines, but now feel the need to jump in in regards to the above (now deleted) comments on Jason De Leon. De Leon is indeed an award-winning Latino scholar, whose research is innovative and topical. The comment that he’s the search committees’ dream candidate is spot on, and Michigan are still kicking themselves for losing him to UCLA.
But one also needs to understand a bit of institutional prehistory in order to contextualise where this success story is coming from, all of which can be reconstructed by anyone with a bit of online research. This will hopefully also help those who attended the disgraceful Cotsen/IFR/UCLA June 11 Town Hall meeting (that Balter previously covered), and are still confused about De Leon’s staunch defence of the IFR despite the serious allegations that organization is currently facing.
De Leon got his B.A. at UCLA in 2001, where he met many of the colleagues who would later become his fellow board members at the IFR. While pursuing his graduate degree at Penn State, he continued working with Cotsen-related projects and faculty, although at this point he’s still your run-of-the-mill Mesoamerican archaeologist. His big break comes a year after graduating, when he embarks on the Undocumented Migration Project (UMP) in 2009. The first field school is offered in 2010 through the UCLA Archaeology Field Program that Ran Boytner and Charles Stanish concocted at the Cotsen Institute, and which provided De Leon with a major funding source, public exposure and students. There he also meets other field school directors who would later join the IFR as board members. When Boytner and his program are kicked out of UCLA in late 2010 (possibly for sexual harassment, see Balter’s blog on this topic) and the IFR is created from the ashes in 2011, De Leon is appointed as a founding board member along with his UCLA buddies and fellow field school directors. As a recently appointed Assistant Professor at the University of Michigan, this is De Leon’s first seat at the ‘adults table’ and provides him with much needed networking leverage and professional service. He then continues to run his UMP field school through the IFR in 2012 and 2013, and more recently in 2020 (cancelled due to the pandemic). In 2019 he leaves Michigan back to UCLA, his alma mater.
Seen as such, there is nothing here that any other ambitious academic wouldn’t do: work hard, network and climb through the ranks. In recent years De Leon became known and respected in the community for being vocal on correcting social injustices and a champion of the #MeToo movement. He even publicly quit the SAA after the Yesner blunder, which Balter helped to expose. The twist came when whisper networks and student testimonies started to expose the dark truths about harassments, assaults and bullying cases at the IFR— the organization and people that made De Leon who he is today— that he suddenly fell all silent. He only broke his silence at the June 11 Town Hall meeting, where he shamefully deflected the blame onto Balter, thus muzzling all those victims who shared their stories in the first place. In order to save the organization, he followed the party line and recast this grave institutional negligence on specific individuals, namely Danielle Kurin. At the expense of those who now demand justice, this helped him justify to himself and others why, 20 years after, he is still willing to work and cover up for the same group of people.
And this is exactly why tight-knit and self-serving, enabling, networks are so very much real, and are so very dangerous.
July 3, 2020 11:12PM
“The question remains what the board of governors of the Institute for Field Research knew about both the 2009 Title IX and the 2011 monetary settlement… Perhaps someone might ask IFR leaders, especially Willeke Wendrich, what they knew and when they knew it.”
In the Cotsen town hall meeting, Jason de León claimed that he first learned about Dr. Boytner’s harassment case from Balter’s blog. I hope he keeps himself up-to-date by reading this page, and will do the right thing by asking Dr. Wendrich and the others what and when they knew. It’s time someone at the IFR start taking this seriously and act professionally and ethically.
It was already established that Stanish knew about Boytner’s transgression, and in the November 2009 letter that Balter previously cites he declares that Boytner “engaged in inappropriate conduct”, and that “This incident is very disturbing”, and “I agree with the findings that your behavior was entirely inappropriate and must not be repeated”, and “for the indefinite future, and you are not to have contact with undergraduate students without a third party present.” Eye witnesses confirm that Stanish did not enforce this directive, and Boytner continued to engage on a daily basis with undergraduate students until his termination from UCLA a year later.
Knowing and stating all that did not stop Stanish from serving as a character witness for Boytner in their defense against the suing student in March 2011. Judging by the dates on the founding document, this was around the very same time that the IFR was created. His involvement in the 2010-2011 lawsuit may explain why Stanish only joined as a full board member in 2014, although he was already funding his projects in Peru through the IFR as early as 2012.
Did Wendrich know? In 2009-2010 when Boytner was being accused and later sued, she was affiliated with the Cotsen Institute and ran her field school in Egypt through Boytner’s program (other current IFR board members who ran their field schools through the Cotsen in 2010 are Jason De Leon, Anthony Graesch, Fredrick Limp, Barra O'Donnabhain, and Tim Williams.) Wendrich’s husband, Hans Barnard, was on the committee that evaluated these field schools, including Boytner’s in Peru. As Cotsen faculty in those years it is hard to believe that they didn’t know about the case, or why Boytner was no longer affiliated with his own field school in 2010. Conveniently enough, in March 2011 Wendrich is named as an IFR founding board member and in 2012 the first chairperson of the IFR. In 2016 she is named the director of the Cotsen Institute, a position she inherits from Stanish. Since Stanish definitely knew about the case, it is again hard to believe that he didn’t tell her or even shared the case documents.
“If Dr. Boytner was named or implicated in a lawsuit regarding his actions while employed by The Regents I would have been made aware in my capacity as Director [of the Cotsen Institute of Archaeology]. I am unaware of Dr. Boytner being named or implicated in any lawsuit alleging inappropriate sexual conduct other than the subject lawsuit” (3/31/2011)
Wouldn’t the same hold for Wendrich when she took over as director of the Cotsen? Since both were IFR board members, didn’t Stanish have a duty of making Wendrich aware of Boytner’s past inappropriate conduct?
“The important point here is that despite Boytner's claims that the university did not find him guilty of sexual harassment (technically true, although his conduct was so egregious that were it today there is little doubt that the outcome would have been different), he and the university were forced to pay compensation to the victim.”
When one reads the court case documents it is clear that even back then UCLA should have found Boytner guilty, and not just by today’s Title IX standards. Boytner admitted that while in a remote UCLA field school in a foreign country, he revealed to his student that he loves her, caressed her, and discussed matters of a very personal nature, all against her will. According to the student, Boytner also proceeded to take inappropriate photos of her, touched her inappropriately, solicited sexual favors, stalked her, locked her out of her room, and grabbed her intimate parts. In both versions of the story, the student rejected Boytner’s advances and immediately shared her experience with other members of the project. She felt afraid and threatened. When Boytner persisted to a point of creating a hostile working and learning environment for the student, she was forced to leave to another field school in Peru. A few days later, and after the student’s mother complained to UCLA, Boytner was ordered to leave his own field school and go back to the US.
In 2009 when the incident took place, UCLA’s policy defined sexual harassment as “unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature, when submission to or rejection of this conduct explicitly or implicitly affects a person’s employment or education, unreasonably interferes with a person’s work or educational performance, or creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive working or learning environment” (quite similar to the current definition, which can be accessed here: https://policy.ucop.edu/doc/4000385/SVSH). Even if Boytner later denied the student’s allegations of assault, one way or the other his actions would fall under the above definitions and UCLA policy of sexual harassment. He was in a position of power as her direct supervisor and grading professor (a fact the student actually reminded him more than once), so even his few admitted actions are indefensible.
So why didn’t UCLA found him guilty back in 2009? For one, Title IX offices are about protecting the institutions, not the students. Since the victim was not even a UCLA student (at the time a junior at USC), then the motivation to clear the school’s name was even stronger. No wonder the student then followed to sue Boytner in Civil Court for battery, sexual battery, and intentional infliction of emotional distress, but also added charges for negligence against UCLA. The student further revealed irregularities in the way UCLA conducted the original investigation, including preferential treatment to Boytner. Having a discovery of evidence and deposing those involved outside the UCLA walls also allowed for more impartial due process. And it did. Both UCLA and Boytner ended up paying for the student’s damages, as much as one can in such traumatic experiences. Another positive outcome: even though after the UCLA investigation Boytner was permitted to keep his job for another full calendar year, UCLA probably finally realized that Boytner is a liability when both were legally served in October 2010, and three weeks later he was fired.
On LinkedIn and Academia.edu his affiliation still appears as Executive Director at the Institute for Field Research. On Corporationwiki, though, he is “Previous President for Institute for Field Research”.
Instead, Lynn Dodd is registered as “President for Institute for Field Research”
The cited source is California Secretary of State, Data last refreshed on Sunday, May 24, 2020.
Like Wendrich, it is most likely that Swartz Dodd also knew about Ran Boytner’s sexual harassment case.
Notably, the executive director title no longer displays in his email signature area. This implies that he is still affiliated with the institute, just not as staff. The “pandemic” line is probably there so he can justify why he’s no longer in charge. I’ve seen such generic statements for colleagues who were fired under disreputable circumstances but asked the department to keep the real reasons under wraps.
“The team investigating domestic architecture, of which I was a part, worked mostly independently. In a week defined by hard work, not to mention character building, our team (to speak from an admittedly biased position), overcame the greatest obstacles—namely, losing our director in the second week.”
“I learned a great deal about the intra-group dynamics of archaeological projects, and the decision-making processes inherent to modern archaeology. Because of a personnel crisis, I and three other students worked mostly independently… In the end, the fact that I was unable to perform the faunal analysis immediately was overshadowed by the intense, albeit unforeseen, learning experience generated by the problems inherent to first season work.”
I guess that in contract to what he said earlier about Balter, blogging *is* after all a valid way to disseminate information (that is, unless you are the focus of allegations). Too bad that Misti project blog is pretty “rinky dinky”.
I am not familiar with this, but does it only apply to sexual misconduct? In the Zoom meeting Professor Lesure said that back in 1996(?) he complained to the UCLA Ombuds office after Ran Boytner bullied a female student. Wouldn’t that be considered a precedent that UCLA should have known about? In light of the recent allegations, would it be possible to open those files and check if there was harassment involved?
When Wendrich’s graduate students asked about the incident at the June 2020 townhall meeting, she brushed them off by omitting all these facts. Instead, she claimed “My conclusion was that this was really a matter of personal style.”
Stanish and Wendrich could have prevented the second case from happening by stopping Boytner from creating the IFR. Instead, they aided him and joined as board members.
Even after two documented cases, they could have admitted they were wrong and Boytner should never be in charge of female employees. Instead, Wendrich stated “If you know him, you know that it’s pretty innocent”, and Stanish stated “I did not do anything wrong.”
It is anything but innocent and they both did wrong by that employee. The next harassment case at the “Field Science Training Foundation” will be on their heads and anyone else who continues to help him.
Makes me suspect that are not really competing, but rather creating a shell organization under the IFR umbrella which will allow Boytner to remain involved despite the allegations.
or the Guidestar nonprofit registry:
If the foundation was “established on June 16” as Boytner claims, and he’s already hired an executive director to run it, then it should have been listed on either or both of these websites.
Field school directors- beware of associating yourselves with illegal operations! Before agreeing to work with “FSTF”, you should demand to see documents that this organization has been officially and lawfully registered.
This claim that Ran Boytner is developing his own global institute to include non-archaeological field schools does not make sense.
1. The "fieldscience.org" domain redirected to "ifrglobal.org" for at least a few hours today. Why would an ex-director, dismissed from an organization under negative circumstances, set his new domain name to direct to the organization that fired him?
2. Now that "fieldscience.org" is a blank page (rather than a redirect), the favicon is the IFR logo. Why would this ex-director's new domain retain the favicon from the organization that fired him?
Either Boytner uploaded the IFR favicon set to his new (future) website, or he copied a WordPress template site from the IFR account and left the default settings intact.
Does Boytner still have access to the IFR website hosting service? Does he still have access to other IFR resources? This is not typical of when a director is dismissed from an organization for issues of moral turpitude. In my observation, one typically is treated to a security escort from the building - and IT immediately confiscating computer resources and resetting passwords.
3. The WHOIS information is restricted by the hosting service for both domains, as is the custom these days, but there are a few things that suggest "fieldscience.org" may have been owned by IFR Global. Both domains were registered using FastDomain ("fieldscience.org" in 2016 and "ifrglobal.org" in 2011). Both domains are hosted on Bluehost. "ifrglobal.org" lists the Registrant Organization as "IFR Global", whereas that field is blank for "fieldscience.org".
Add to this the fact that Boytner's IFR email address does not appear to have been closed nor offers an OOO message redirecting inquiries to current employees at IFR Global.
At any rate, the way this is unfolding supports the argument that IFR Global has been a sham operation with insufficient IT and communications support. Indeed, the top complaint of my field school students who enrolled through IFR Global was inept IT and communications even on basic, straight-forward matters like tuition payment and credit transfer. Any organization with this level of responsibility should have adequate IT and internal comms to properly handle the dismissal of high-level administrative staff or even the director - not letting that person continue to access and use organization resources.
I am delighted to share with you that Dr. Lara Croft accepted the position of Executive Director at the Society for Cultivating Anthropological Mindfulness (permanent name). Lara is a highly intelligent and athletic archaeologist who ventures into ancient tombs and hazardous ruins around the world. I believe Lara is destined to make a significant mark on archaeology and I am humble that she chose to direct her considerable energies into building the SCAM.
For now, Lara and myself are using our private email addresses. Feel free to communicate with us through those. Once we establish the SCAM website (ifrglobal.org), we will begin using a professional communication system and will update our email addresses.
CC’ed: Lara Croft
“The IFR is happy to announce that we are in the processes of building a solid foundation to run our IFR field schools all over the world, if it is safe and responsible to do so come 2021. Be on the lookout 👀 for updates on our field school information form (coming soon)!”
I wonder if that “solid foundation” has anything to do with Boytner’s “Field Science Training Foundation.” Either way someone there is reading the comments on the blog, because "fieldscience.org" no longer leads to the IFR page and the IFR favicon was promptly removed. Still a blank page, though.
As the Assistant Director of the Cotsen Institute of Archaeology, Gregory was one of the few who saw Boytner for what he truly was: a sexual harasser and a bully. Although confidentially protocols prohibited him at the time to reveal the real reasons for Boytner’s removal from UCLA, he didn’t shed a tear when he signed on that termination letter. Chip and Willeke and the others just went blindly along the IFR ride. Only too late had they realized the real menace that Boytner is. Now that Boytner has left the IFR in ruins and is moving on to his next target and victims, it is up to them to take a lesson from Gregory and stand up to Boytner.
In early 2016, before UCSB had concluded that Gomez sexually harassed students in 2015, he was still showing on the IFR website as the field school instructor along with Kurin. UCLA credit units were offered.
In late 2016, after the UCSB investigation and the IFR cancelation due to “health and safety” issues, the field school is offered again but both Gomez and the UCLA credits are now both gone.
It’s quite obvious then what, or who, was the “health and safety” risk to students. The question remains, how longer will they keep claiming they didn’t know?
“Once selected and seated, the Board will take over and oversee all operations of this new organization. Dr. Saltini Semerari will answer directly and exclusively to this Board. I will then be able to focus on my own research and fund raising activities”.
Boytner is essentially declaring that he’ll take no role in the organization’s daily operations and decision-making. Whether this is true or not remains to be seen, but the fact that he even needs to assert it intimates that some hard lessons were learned after his gross mismanagement of the UCLA and IFR field school operators. I assume this proviso is there to appease new partners and investors, but the cynic in me ponders if this is enough of an assurance to join in. Anyone with insights on the viability of the "FSTF" to succeed, can contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org
His affiliation is listed as “Science Trust”, under his personal gmail. Not sure if this is supposed to be a real organization name or just a placeholder.
On LinkedIn, Boytner currently shows as:
Josh & Sarah Tabor Foundation · Full-time
Jun 2020 — Present · 3 mos
Portland, Oregon, United States
Institute for Field Research
Jan 2011 — Present · 9 years 8 mos
Greater Los Angeles Area
So in addition to his new full time position, he currently promotes himself as the present ED of the IFR. So it’s either he is belligerently lying to the world, or the board did when declaring he was terminated.
Time to alert the Federal Trade Commission of this scam.
Is he REALLY out of the IFR? Sounds like he’s still running things from his basement…
As a forceful reminder, following Boytner’s inappropriate conduct with a female student at UCLA, Dr. Charles Stanish instructed him “not to have contact with undergraduate students without a third party present.”
If anyone has any information on where Boytner is serving in the above position, please alert the respective authorities immediately.
1- “Field Science Foundation”, a.k.a. “Field Science Training Foundation”
2- “Science Trust”
3- “Josh and Sarah Tabor Foundation”
While all the while he keeps promoting himself as the director of the Institute for Field Research.
What a true Renaissance Man! (that is, if the man is Machiavelli)
“As a former colleague of Boytner's I honestly have no problem with him moving on with his life but he CANNOT and SHOULD NOT be allowed to work in a position where he interacts with students in any capacity”.
That is correct. In 2009 Dr. Boytner was found accountable for inappropriate conduct involving a female student who participated in his UCLA overseas program, and which violated the University of California Faculty Code of Conduct Policy (APM 015).
Specifically, Boytner has been found to have violated two regulations within ‘Types of unacceptable conduct’ (Part II, Section A, page 6):
“6. Entering into a romantic or sexual relationship with any student for whom a faculty member has, or should reasonably expect to have in the future (*1), academic responsibility (instructional, evaluative, or supervisory). / (*1) A faculty member should reasonably expect to have in the future academic responsibility (instructional, evaluative, or supervisory) for (1) students whose academic program will require them to enroll in a course taught by the faculty member, (2) students known to the faculty member to have an interest in an academic area within the faculty member’s academic expertise, or (3) any student for whom a faculty member must have academic responsibility (instructional, evaluative, or supervisory) in the pursuit of a degree.
7. Exercising academic responsibility (instructional, evaluative, or supervisory) for any student with whom a faculty member has a romantic or sexual relationship.”
As further stated in APM 015:
“The integrity of the faculty-student relationship is the foundation of the University’s educational mission. This relationship vests considerable trust in the faculty member,who, in turn, bears authority and accountability as mentor, educator, and evaluator. The unequal institutional power inherent in this relationship heightens the vulnerability of the student and the potential for coercion. The pedagogical relationship between faculty member and student must be protected from influences or activities that can interfere with learning consistent with the goals and ideals of the University. Whenever a faculty member is responsible for academic supervision of a student, a personal relationship between them of a romantic or sexual nature, even if consensual,is inappropriate. Any such relationship jeopardizes the integrity of the educational
“Part II of this Code elaborates standards of professional conduct, derived from general professional consensus about the existence of certain precepts as basic to acceptable faculty behavior. Conduct which departs from these precepts is viewed by faculty as unacceptable because it is inconsistent with the mission of the University. The articulation of types of unacceptable faculty conduct is appropriate both to verify that a consensus about minimally acceptable standards in fact does exist and to give fair notice to all that departures from these minimal standards may give rise to disciplinary proceedings”.
The disciplinary sanctions imposed on Boytner were his removal from the overseas program under his directorship, and barring further contact with undergraduate students without a third party present.
A few months later Boytner was terminated from his position at UCLA.
Since the inappropriate conduct Boytner was found accountable for was not consensual, the student sued Boytner and UCLA in Civil Court for battery, sexual battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and negligence. The case was settled with both UCLA and Boytner paying for the student’s damages.
Supporting documents to the above can be found in UCLA’s staff records and public legal records online.
To echo the other colleague- if someone can post details on Boytner’s employer, I am prepared to draw their attention to this asap. They may not be too thrilled about it now, but it’s better than having a major lawsuit on their heads later on.
Are they fighting over her, or sharing her? Either way it’s time for someone to come clean on what is going on.
In the June 11 town hall meeting (partial transcript above), Wendrich stated on three separate occasions that
- “The Institute for Field Research started at UCLA, and I was not at all involved at that point”;
- “Again, I wasn’t involved at that time, but I know that from 2006—actually I checked—from 2006 to 2010 the field schools ran through UCLA. It was initiative of Ran Boytner and Chip Stanish”;
- “[The IFR] used to be a UCLA program, and John has been on the committee, and I think Sarah as well, and Hans has been on the committee that vetted the field schools for UCLA”.
New evidence shows that that in addition to running her 2008, 2009, and 2010 seasons of her Fayum field school through Boytner’s Field School Program, she was also DIRECTLY INVOLVED IN THE VISITATION AND ASSESSMENT OF THE OTHER PROGRAMS such as in Turkmenistan. This clearly contradicts her above statements.
Why lie about such a seemingly trivial detail? Best bet is that she was trying to conceal the fact that, if directly involved in the field school vetting, she would have surely had to know about Boytner’s violations of UCLA’s Faculty Code of Conduct and him being barred by Stanish from own field school. Lynn Swartz Dodd certainly knew (the harassed student was Dodd’s student at USC and Dodd’s students alerted her of the events in Peru), and she had no qualms jumping ships with Boytner when he started the IFR and recruited others who directly benefited from the UCLA program. Considering the above, it is not surprising the Wendrich was also appointed as the first chairperson of the IFR Board, a position she is now back to as co-chair with Swartz Dodd.
What do UCLA archaeology graduate students think about their program after all that they learned from the Town Hall meeting coordinated to respond to the evasive behavior of UCLA archaeology faculty and faculty alumni of other universities when questioned about their role in covering for sexual predators while serving on the board of the Institute for Field Research?
How can I be surprised by anything Wendrich promotes! This entire summer of following this IFR-UCSB-UCLA Andeanist mess has truly revealed to me what total hypocrites these colleagues of mine have been through all the years that I have known them. Its just a political game to them. The stakes are high. There is real profit at the top for those who hold these positions as professors at universities, directors of institutes and board members of national associations and academies. They will do everything they can to appear to be upholding the values that the field of archaeology advocates while carefully plotting their next move to promote and thereby enrich themselves at the expense of others. I still look to UCLA administration to call Wendrich on to the carpet and demand an explanation for her behavior. Otherwise this whole scholar-strike and teach-in amounts to little more than another scam to shore up the Cotsen Institute's reputation.
The fact that UCLA failed, and continue to fail harassed students is the most alarming aspect of these stories. This comes clear from the almost identical campus dynamics in these two cases. In Piterberg’s case (as in this one), the History grad students got organized and demanded answers in a letter written to the faculty and administration. They even staged protests and marches on campus. Same as here, most have first heard about it from blogs and the media, and demanded better transparency and proper juridical processes in the administration’s treatment of sexual harassers. The fact that the Anthropology graduate students had to repeat this exercise shows that our university had learned nothing in over a decade.
It is worth pointing out that Piterberg was the director of the UCLA Center for Near Eastern Studies, so was well known to Wendrich. She couldn’t have been very surprised then when her own students demanded transparency and accountability. Reading through the meeting transcripts, though, it’s very disheartening that they only received your typical evasive maneuvers and excuses.
together with Near Eastern Languages and Cultures
Of course she would know all about the Piterburg scandal!
It allows the leaders of a syndicate to be tried for the crimes they assisted others in doing thereby closing a perceived loophole that allowed a person who instructed someone else to be exempt from trial because they did not actually commit the crime personally.
I would say that there is evidence of a pattern of corrupt behavior revealed this past summer on this blog that suggests collusion between university administrations across the country with regard to their handling of sexual harassment complaints that is intended to protect the perpetrators. The comparison of the cases discussed above certainly suggests an institutional pattern of behavior at UCLA at the very least.
I think someone earlier this year pointed out that this would certainly apply to the IFR board.
The wise words of Chloe Pan, the undergraduate government external vice president who co-coordinated the protest against Piterberg, ring true also for the Cotsen townhall meeting:
“At the end of the day, it shouldn’t take student organizing for UCLA to hold its own faculty accountable.”
Jason: enough with the hypocrisy. If you want to do the right thing, stop retweeting and start helping the victims expose the truth.
Concurrent with Wendrich’s deposition in the Kurin/Balter lawsuit, she will also undergo a retreat with two external moderators to “increase trust” in the Cotsen community.
In order for this to happen, I hope that in both occasions she will choose the path of truth and accountability.
Unfortunately, she shadily tried to cover all that up during the June townhall meeting when questioned about her IFR affiliation. She also blatantly lied about other sensitive matters to the Cotsen graduate students, fellow faculty and staff, Dean of Social Sciences, Dean of Humanities, Director of the Title IX Office, Chair of the Graduate Council, and Ombudsperson. She allegedly also lied about her complicity in the Kurin case, and evidence for that is apparently forthcoming.
It doesn’t matter if her loyal students and allies on campus still support her no matter what. UCLA is a public university, and this is not something a highly paid professor should be able to get away with.
This is a textbook case of a delusional sociopath who cannot accept defeat, show remorse, or admit culpability for his actions.
Trump is one obvious analogy, but perhaps a better example is serial fraudster Billy McFarland. Soon as his Magnises scam started to crumble, McFarland jumped on to create Fyre Media. When the now notorious festival blew up in his face, he immediately conjured another bogus operation called NYC VIP Access and tried to sell the same ‘quality experience’ to the SAME VICTIMS of Magnises and Fyre (read ‘field school directors’ in Boytner’s case.)
Placing puppets, shills and strawpersons to serve as a “reputable” front for such ventures is another strategy of these entrepreneurial sociopaths: Ja Rule, supermodels, and Frank Tribble in McFarland’s case; Charles Stanish, IFR board, and Giulia Saltini in Boytner’s.
Billy McFarland is now serving time in prison. Still waiting to see what happens with Ran Boytner.
Yup. And Hans was at Ran and Chip's field school in Tarapaca, Chile in 2006-8. Chip brought his much younger girlfriend, who he'd met when she took undergrad classes taught by him, to the 2006 season. That wasn't at all awkward or uncomfortable for any of the female students.
November 21, 2020 at 7:03 AM”
Correct, and it gets even more interesting. Scott Waugh, then Dean of UCLA’s Social Sciences, also joined Boytner and Stanish in 2006 for a tour in Chile. This was right about when the Chileans tried to kick the field school out of the country for practicing imperialist and colonialist archaeology, so Waugh may have been brought in as institutional backing.
Why is this interesting? Waugh is also cc’ed on Stanish’s 2009 correspondence, where he reprimands Boytner for engaging in inappropriate conduct with the student in Peru and violating the UCLA Faculty Code of Conduct. At the time of the internal investigation Waugh had already moved on to the position of UCLA’s Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost, so quite unusual he would be included on correspondence regarding improper conduct by a research associate.
But then maybe not. Even though Boytner was barred from his field school and other non-supervised contact with UCLA students (a directive that was never enforced), he managed to keep his position for another full year before being terminated. How? It is now becoming clear that the UCLA internal investigation was botched. Even if we put aside the student’s allegations of sexual assault and battery, Boytner’s own admissions of expressing “romantic feelings” to his field school student and initiating intimate physical contact against her will, do in fact violate UCLA’s sexual harassment policy (this is true today as it was in 2009, see the similar case of Eric Gans: https://dailybruin.com/2017/02/28/professor-emeritus-found-to-have-violated-uc-sexual-misconduct-policy.) Therefore, even before the civil court lawsuit and settlement where UCLA and Boytner compensated the students for tens of thousands of dollars, Boytner should have been found guilty of sexual harassment and been fired on the spot. Why didn’t he? Did Waugh pulled rank to help get Boytner off the hook? More investigation and documents coming to light will eventually reveal who was involved and who’s to blame.
Not sure if and how EVC Waugh fits into any of this, but if Stanish and Boytner are still in cahoots then may the gods have mercy upon our souls.
All of the above would explain why Stanish lied under oath on his 2011 legal declaration, when he served as a witness in the civil lawsuit filed by the student victim in the Superior Court of California with charges of “Battery, Sexual Battery, and Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress” against Boytner and “Negligence” against UCLA Regents.
Document 4827-6203-2905.1 reads*:
“DECLARATION OF CHARLES STANISH IN SUPPORT OF THE REGENTS OF THE UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA’S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGEMENT
I, Charles Stanish, declare as follows:
1. I am employed by the Regents of the University of California (“The Regents”). I currently serve in the capacity of Director of the Cotsen Institute of Archaeology at the University of California Los Angeles (“UCLA”) and have held that title since 2003. The matters set forth herein are of my own personal knowledge and I could and would competently testify thereto.
2. In April 2008, I interviewed and hired Ran Boytner into his position as Director of International Research at the Cotsen Institute of Archaeology at UCLA. Before I hired Dr. Boytner I knew him professionally because I served on his dissertation committee and Dr. Boytner volunteered with our department for two years before he was hired. While Dr. Boytner was Director of International Research I was his direct supervisor.
3. Prior to the claims made in this lawsuit by Ms. […], I was never aware of Dr. Boytner being accused of engaging in any sexually inappropriate actions against anyone, including, but not limited to, a student at any university at which he taught or on any archaeological expeditions with which he was involved.
4. If Dr. Boytner was named or implicated in a lawsuit regarding his actions while employed by The Regents I would have made aware in my capacity as Director. I am unaware of Dr. Boytner being named or implicated in any lawsuit alleging inappropriate sexual conduct other than the subject lawsuit.
I declare under penalty of perjury under the laws of the State of California that the foregoing is true and correct and that this Declaration was executed on 3/31, 2011, at Los Angeles, California. Charles Stanish (signature).”
*Source: Superior Court of California: https://www.lacourt.org/paonlineservices/pacommerce/login.aspx?appId=CDX&casetype=CIV
(to see all the relevant lawsuit documents, click “Continue as Guest” and type “Boytner” under Last Name and “Ran” under First Name, and follow the instructions.)
In clause #2 Stanish is wrong in declaring that he hired Boytner in April 2008, when in actuality it was April 2007. This discrepancy could be explained away as an honest mistake.
Stanish’s actual perjury rests with clause #3. On July 2009, immediately after the events in Peru and almost exactly a year PRIOR to making the claims in this lawsuit, the same female student filed an official complaint with UCLA’s Staff Affirmative Action Office. After investigation, Boytner was found accountable for inappropriate conduct involving that student, and which violated the University of California Faculty Code of Conduct Policy (APM 015):
At the time, Stanish was fully aware of this verdict. On November 22, 2009, he sends a letter to Boytner (Cc: Alessandro Duranti- Dean of Social Sciences; Debra Dralle- Assistant Dean for Human Resources for the College of Letters and Science; Scott Waugh- Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost; Staff Affirmative Action Office), where he states:
As you know, the Staff Affirmative Action office has completed their investigation into your alleged violation of the UC Sexual Harassment Policy. They found that…you engaged in inappropriate conduct with [….], a student in the summer Archaeology program.
This incident is very disturbing...the students perceive you as a professor, and that perception places a burden on you to maintain a professional relationship with the students in accordance with the APM (cf. Faculty Code of Conduct, APM 015 Part II, A, “Types of Unacceptable Conduct”, 6, 7:
“6. Entering into a romantic or sexual relationship with any student for whom a faculty member has, or should reasonably expected to have in the future, academic responsibility (instructional, evaluative, or supervisory).
7. Exercising academic responsibility (instructional, evaluative, or supervisory) for any student with whom a faculty member has a romantic or sexual relationship”.
…I agree with the findings that your behavior was entirely inappropriate and must not be repeated. As we have discussed, you will not be permitted to act as an instructor in the program for the indefinite future, and you are not to have contact with undergraduate students without a third party present…You must attend Sexual Harassment Prevention training at the earliest opportunity…
I am very disappointed at your conduct, Ran. Please be clear that nothing of this nature can happen again. I am available to discuss any part of this memo with you should you have any questions.
Very truly yours,
So even though Staff Affirmative Action did not accuse Boytner of sexual harassment in 2009 (a blatant misjudgment based on the existing evidence), they still found him guilty of “Types of unacceptable conduct” that Stanish denied any prior knowledge of in 2011, and particularly “engaging in any sexually inappropriate actions against anyone, including, but not limited to, a student at any university at which he taught or on any archaeological expeditions with which he was involved.”
It makes me sick to my stomach that only a month before Chip testified in favour of Ran Boytner, and knowing everything he knew about that creep, he was still “reassuring” UCLA students that they are already working on an alternative field school program (probably IFR?)
This is from an interview with the Daily Bruin on February 2011:
“Last year, the institute received only about $200,000 from the state. This forced Stanish to lay off several staff members, including the director of international research, who helped organize the field schools.” The director he is referring to is Boytner. And then he adds: “By next year, the Cotsen Institute hopes to re-establish the summer field program under a new structure, Stanish said.”
http://www.barnard.nl/vitor.html (with visit date July 2010)
http://www.barnard.nl/work.html (scroll down for a photo taken by Willeke of Hans in Vitor valley).
http://www.barnard.nl/plakboek/page41.html (more Vitor photos from 2010)
http://www.barnard.nl/plakboek/page42.html (more Vitor photos from 2010)
Also, a page about Hans’s collaboration with Ran and Chip in Chile, 2005-2008:
So much for Willeke’s “I wasn’t involved at that time”.
I highly recommend downloading those pages before they delete them.
“Dr. Willeke Wendrich (email@example.com) is a Professor of Egyptian Archaeology and Digital Humanities at UCLA…She recently joined the Vitor Archaeological Project and worked in Peru during the summer of 2011.”
Yup, there’s no doubt whatsoever that Dr. Willeke Wendrich and Dr. Hans Barnard participated as instructors at the SAME FIELD SCHOOL in which Boytner sexually harassed a student. The previous comment argues convincingly that this was already the case when Boytner was still at the Cotsen in 2010, and the link above shows that this was certainly the case when they offered the program through IFR in 2011-2012.
So it has now been well established that Wendrich and Barnard were colleagues, co-workers and good friends with Ran Boytner at the time of the harassment case/UCLA investigation/civil court lawsuit, directed and evaluated programs for his UCLA Archaeology Field Program, AND TOOK OVER AS INSTRUCTORS ONCE HE WAS BANNED FROM HIS OWN FIELD SCHOOL IN PERU.
So please, spare us that “I wasn’t involved at that time” spiel and just tell us the truth!
Willeke also conveniently neglects to mention this Peru field experience in her CV:
And while at it, someone should do her a solid and add it to her Wikipedia page:
So in 2012, when Wendrich and Barnard are listed as instructors in that field school, Ran Boytner is teaching in another IFR field school in Peru:
This is the same year that Chip joins the IFR board:
*under Public Service/Education
So we have IFR board members, fully aware of Boytner’s shady past and that UCLA forbade him to interact with students, nonetheless allow him to direct a field school under IFR banner.
If any of this sounds familiar, it is because this is precisely what they done repeating with Danielle Kurin between 2016 and 2018.
They should have paid more attention to what Churchill said about those who fail to learn from history, because anything else just amounts to criminal negligence.
“Director, Vitor Valley (Peru) Archaeology field school, 2009-2010”.
This is despite Stanish prohibiting him to act as an instructor in the program for the indefinite future, as per the November 2009 letter.
What always struck me about the Tarapacá archaeological project--other than of course how fiercely the Chileans loathed it--is that as Principal Investigator of 3--4 field seasons, Ran Boytner did not author a single publication on this key southern Andean region. Chip didn’t publish anything related to Chile either because he was absorbed with his other projects in Peru and Bolivia. The only thing that Ran and some of the others slapped their name on was a 3-page technical report on non-invasive imaging technique, with an engineer from UCLA as lead author, published in Microscopy Today. And that obscure publication wasn’t even peer reviewed.
Eventually it was left to the Chilean contrapartes and those who participated as graduate students to impart us with some of this much awaited archaeological data, and as further statement to how badly they’ve fallen out-- none of these publications involved Ran or Chip. Other readers may correct me on this, but I’m pretty familiar with the area so should know.
On a personal note-- I find it to be absolutely unscrupulous for those US scholars affiliated with one of the top universities and archaeological institutes in the world, not to publish their multiyear research, especially when carried out in a country with an oppressive colonialist legacy such as Chile. As far as I’m concerned Ran Boytner and Charles Stanish are just looters with PhDs. If even for that alone, the National Academy of Sciences, SAA, and RPA should revoke their memberships.
It is difficult to comment on the statement "how fiercely the Chileans loathed [the Tarapaca Project]". To suggest that all Chilean archaeologists acted as one body and has a single opinion is a bit silly. Many Chilean archaeologists participated in the Tarapaca Project, including many leading Chilean scholars. No one force them to be there and they publish many great articles about the data recovered from the area. The comment, at a minimum, is unfair and unsensitive to the diverse opinions of Chilean academics, their students and their agency.
In sum, I believe that the commentator above me is wrong on the facts and that s/he may want to engage in further library research to get the numerous papers published by the project participants -- both locals and international -- and learn more about the history of this fascinating area of the Atacama Desert.
Thanks to the previous commentator for his detailed response. As I mentioned, I am well familiar with the publications by Uribe, Vidal, Agüero, Zori, Brant, and others. I have them on my shelf. That doesn’t change the fact that Boytner did not author or co-author peer-review publications as is ethically expected from a PI in a multiyear research project. Both you and I know that he was not added as co-author because of his generous support to his collaborators and students (and if you don’t know, I recommend asking around.) And it’s not even that his name “appear on so few publications”, just the one. If you are aware of any other beyond the short report I mentioned, please post the reference here as my colleagues and I would very much like to read it.
As for Chip, I don’t know if he was “co-director” as you write, but he sure presented himself as PI to colleagues and students on more than one occasion. If that doesn’t match the reports submitted to the CMN and if as you suggest he was hardly there, then this is another concern worth looking into. Incidentally, in his CV Stanish specifies that he was there for “2 months” in 2005 and “one month” in 2006. If, as you write, he was there only two weeks in any of these years then he should correct his CV.
As for what really happened with the UCLA field school and Boytner in Valparaíso, there is a lot to be said there. It sure wasn’t just Núñez who, by the way, published more about Atacama than Boytner and Stanish combined. I don’t know and didn’t say that the project was banned, just that the Chileans loathed it (yes, not ALL the Chileans, but certainly quite the large number in the archaeological community.) If you want to learn more about what transpired, I highly recommend you read Mary Leighton’s dissertation: (2014) Uneven Fields: Transnational Expertise and the Practice of Andean Archaeology, Department of Anthropology, University of Chicago. I think you’ll find it most illuminating, and especially chapter 7 where she discusses the “North American Field School” (aka the Tarapacá project.) As a graduate student Leighton participated in that project in more than one season. She later published other articles that reference the project, the most recent in the July issue of American Anthropologist. I was not at all surprised she didn’t include Boytner as co-author in those, since she certainly didn’t have too many good things to say about him (he’s her “Ethan” in the dissertation.)
Finally-- I firmly stand by my opinion that it is criminal not to publish one’s research, especially when Gringo imperialism is used as justification (again, see Leighton!) However, I do agree with you that the Atacama Desert is a fascinating area that deserves more attentions than it has received. The work continues on.
Something’s not right here. Never heard of a project director that doesn’t have his name on publications, even as co-author. Sure doesn’t make any sense that he would just sign over all data and publication responsibilities to his students just to boost their “record”. In fact, it is a highly irresponsible thing to do!
In this link
click on the “INSTRUCTORS” tab to the left and you can see their bios.
“Dr. Hans Barnard (firstname.lastname@example.org) is an Adjunct Assistant Professor at UCLA. He is currently involved in research projects on the archaeology of mobile people, ceramic analysis and the Eastern Deserts of Egypt and Sudan. In addition, he has worked in Armenia, Chile, Egypt, Iceland, Panama, Peru, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. Dr. Barnard is the author of numerous articles and books on the subjects of organic residue analysis and the archaeology of mobility.”
“Dr. Willeke Wendrich (email@example.com) is a Professor of Egyptian Archaeology and Digital Humanities at UCLA. She has extensive field work experience, working for over twenty years in Egypt. She also participated in the Catal Hoyuk excavations in Turkey, and directed a field survey in the Yemeni highlands. She has published extensively on subjects ranging from ethno-archaeology, archaeological basketry, eco- tourism and ancient apprenticeship, to the archeology of nomadism (edited volume with Hans Barnard). She recently joined the Vitor Archaeological Project and worked in Peru during the summer of 2011.”
The Vitor and Misti Archaeological Project are one the same, and on the UCLA website these titles were used interchangeably. This was the field school where the student was harassed by Boytner in 2009 and from which he was barred.
“Given that we did not poll Chilean archaeologists on the issue, I think my observation is as valid as the one made by the prior commentator.”
I’ll take your word that YOU didn’t poll Chilean archaeologists, but you know who did? Mary Leighton. So she certainly considered context and alternatives, and judged the project in the boarder Chilean system of patronage. Stating that she should not be considered as an objective observer or a good scholar reveals that you are only capable of grasping the North American perspective at the expense of the Chileans’.
You further claim
“What happened in Valparaiso has more to do with internal Chilean politics (especially the role of North Americans as project co-directors on Chilean soil) than with the project itself.”
“To state that Leighton is a poor anthropologist is an understatement at best. She is a classical neo-imperialist writer, imposing her political views on situations that are complex and nuanced and that she does not bather herself to explore, describe or explain.”
You couldn’t be more off the mark, and ought to read Leighton’s dissertation more carefully. For example
“Much of Ethan’s critique ignored the reason Chilean archaeologist gave for actually objecting to the NAFS: namely, that it was an undergraduate field school. This argument remained opaque to Ethan, leading him to dismiss it as an excuse to hide their underlying, irrational prejudice against foreigners…"
"It also raises questions about the extent to which Ethan’s supranationalism can be equated with or separated from either the neoliberal concept of knowledge promoted by supranational organizations like the OECD, or a US concept of education, expertise, and knowledge that is just as historically, culturally, and politically bound to the national sphere as that of Chile…"
"Ethan genuinely could not conceive of field schools as objectionable because in the US they are integral to undergraduate education and socialization. From a Chilean perspective, however, the matter of payment took on quite different connotations because it was seen as the most explicit instantiation of the student-as-consumer model that Chilean archaeologist have been pushing back against for the past three decades.”
There is much much more to elaborate on this and other questions, however since I can already guess the identity of the commenter and am well aware of their vile reputation, I respectfully withdraw myself from this debate.
in 2006 Stanish is still listed as the project’s director. I believe he was the one who first mediated with the Chilenos so many there trusted him and considered him as a bona fide PI. His position and connections at UCLA did not hurt either, see the comment above about the Provost. He then gradually took the back seat to concentrate on Taraco and Chincha (on which he published plenty), only to have Boytner muck it up with the Chilenos. M. Leighton is dead-on that much (though not all) of their strong objection was derived from his disrespectful behavior or, as she puts it, “the typical arrogance of a “cultural colonialist” who had little respect for his local colleagues”. This, and other reasons that I am not quite ready to share, is why I am not quite buying the argument that it was Stanish’s responsibility to publish the Tarapacá data.
A few important comments that could serve the readership here: ...Any reference to Mary Leighton dissertation or other publications must be made with great reservations. Leighton’s main research focused on a project in Bolivia, where she imposed her Eurocentric values on a Bolivian case. She completely ignored context and alternatives and judged the project as if it was in a self-contained universe and no existing Bolivian system of patronage existed. In fact, the project Leighton is mentioning tried to create a merit based opportunities to his Bolivian members. That the project chose people it liked or disliked is part of human nature. Few of us are perfect and as archaeologists, we can all do better. Few of Leighton’s papers are getting accepted to journals and even those published are dramatically revised and reduced. To state that Leighton is a poor anthropologist is an understatement at best. She is a classical neo-imperialist writer, imposing her political views on situations that are complex and nuanced and that she does not bather herself to explore, describe or explain. That there are some tragic consequences to her writing is a fact that most readers here are probably well aware off. Note that at least one member of Leighton original committee members declined to sign her final dissertation. She is not, and should not be referred to, as an objective observer or a good scholar.
December 25, 2020 at 8:08 PM "
I don't know ML personally, but this strikes me as the MO of the same cabal of dishonest people who are the subject of Balter's reporting. Specifically, the MO is to cast doubt on someone's character and say things like "everyone thinks this person is bad, no one takes this person seriously, bla bla bla." Basically the same kind of backhanded gossip that destroys people's reputation in the workplace and especially in academia. I am sure what ML has researched is uncomfortable for many. No one likes turning the anthropological gaze onto ourselves, but to say she is not an ethical and reliable scholar, and that this is true because so and so said so and such and such community believe it, is an ad-hominem attack designed to delegitimize the truth.
While I may not agree with all of ML's editorial choices, I have no doubt that she has represented her data truthfully and has put a lot of thought into framing it in a nuanced way.
I tend to agree with Anonymous above (December 27, 2020 at 4:04 PM). As a provocative scholar who specializes in “collaborative misalignments between scientists from the Global North and Global South”, it is only expected that those she negatively highlights in her research will try to bite back. These may be inconvenient truths for some or most, but we absolutely need people like Mary Leighton (and Michael Balter) to remind us of our individual/collective responsibility & accountability in the field and beyond.
For a more balanced perspective, I strongly recommend exploring her website
Excellent content for those who are interested in the roots of inequality within the context of postcolonial scientific communities.
“It is unethical no name alleged individuals who were deliberately given codename in published anthropological research…If you name ‘Ethan’ as Boytner and the project as Tarapaca, the only thing that shield you from complaints to the RPA, AAA or SAA – and, I suspect, immediate removal from these organizations – is the fact that you choose to make this revelation anonymously.”
Mary Leighton, @American Anthropologist, Vol. 122, No. 3, said…
“I also studied a North American archaeological project that attempted to establish a field school in the north of Chile but was eventually required to leave…Participants signed consent forms. I undertook this project as a sociocultural anthropologist conducting an ethnography of another branch of anthropology; unsurprisingly, this led to my informants and I discussing the limits of privacy and anonymity and the extent to which my findings would be shared in journals, conferences, and academic venues where they also participate. They were very aware that, even with the use of pseudonyms, they would be identifiable. Even when participants requested I use their real names, however, I use pseudonyms and have changed the names of archaeological projects. This is done not to ensure perfect anonymity; both my informants and I were aware that this would never be possible. Rather, I use pseudonyms to underline that these are ethnographic examples and vignettes, not journalistic reports: the aim is to examine the epistemic culture of a specific academic community and the structures that perpetuate it, not to critique a specific set of individuals. The subject matter of an ethnography is a set of relationships that make up a community, not a specific individual.
I understand that there will be readers who (believe they) can identify the individuals quoted or discussed. Readers may also feel that it is inappropriate to discuss informal and intimate actions or relationships in the public and permanent space of an anthropological journal. My response is that the place of informal, intimate relationships within professional settings is precisely the topic under discussion in this article. The relationships, events, and attitudes I describe were not secret. They were and are habitual, well known, and commonly discussed in the community I describe.”
Sorry Anonymous, looks like you knew perfectly well what you’re getting yourself--and your project--into.
So for example, you cannot simply claim that publication and authorship ethics are immaterial to this discussion, and also admit “I have no idea why Stanish or Boytner did not sign their name to the many publications from Tarapaca.”
I therefore suggest that you find out the reasons why — as project directors — Stanish or Boytner did not publish their own research data, post those here, and let the archaeological community and the professional organizations judge what are the ethical implications.
Michael Balter said…
Thanks to the last commenter. I have preserved those pages just in case. Yes, everyone knew about Ran's misconduct.
December 20, 2020 at 9:43 AM
I resent the statement that everyone knew about Ran's misconduct. I was around during those years and I sure didn’t know that he wasn’t allowed to interact with students without someone else present. I myself had talked to him more than once without anyone else around. I’m confident that students and lower level staff didn’t know about any of this. Had I known that the Costen institute is harboring sexual aggressors you betcha I would have complained to the title IX officer there and then.
This one is quite revealing. Note that she started posting on April 16, 2020, so not too long after victims started to come forward and Balter’s initial posts that exposed hers’ and Gomez’s misconduct. And the reason is clear: Kurin’s blog is a nothing more than an attempt at card-stacking propaganda, and not a very good one at that. Let’s take a closer look.
The posts were clearly written by Kurin herself (signed on bottom), but in the first two she refers to herself in the third person as “The recipient of numerous research grants and fellowships including prestigious Fulbrights” and as a “highly rated professor and accomplished researcher with stellar publications.” Also known as ‘Illeism’, this stylistic device is most commonly used by gaslighters and narcissists in order to provide a false sense of objectivity, see for example https://www.forbes.com/sites/stephaniesarkis/2019/04/26/gaslighters-use-the-third-person-for-dramatic-effect/?sh=1262bfa975d7. Never mind that these posts are sloppily thrown together with poor grammar and punctuation, fail to provide new information, and some lines look like copy & paste from Wikipedia or Time Team America (https://www.pbs.org/time-team/experience-archaeology/isotope-analysis/). For some reason she couldn’t even bother to upload images from her own research, but instead just grabbed stock photos from the web (https://www.pexels.com/photo/man-looking-through-a-microscope-4033151 and https://images.app.goo.gl/1ME8J3qozTW3qTY19). Oh, and some of the links don’t work :(
The third and last post is not really a post, but a screenshot of one of her articles. Here too she couldn’t bother to post the entire article or even a link to the (free) online PDF. But the choice of posting this particular article is revealing in itself. Of all her “stellar publications” in peer-review scientific journals, edited volumes, or for that matter her monographs, she chose an obscure piece from an old issue of the Cotsen Institute of Archaeology ‘Backdirt magazine’, mostly read by the UCLA community.
And here’s why she chose it: Kurin posted on June 30, 2020, so following the June 11 town hall meeting spurred by the Cotsen Institute’s graduate students who demanded answers from IFR representatives Willeke Wendrich, Jason De Leon and Hans Barnard. Some parts of this exclusive virtual meeting were published by Balter on June 12, but many of the damaging details that had a direct impact on Kurin’s reputation were posted in a long update on June 25. Five days later, Kurin posted on her own blog the above-mentioned 2016 article, in which acknowledgements she specifies: “My sincerest thanks to the faculty, students, and staff affiliated with the Cotsen Institute of Archaeology for magnanimously providing a sophisticated and inspirational forum for intellectual growth. Support from the Institute for Field Research enabled me to write this article. I am truly indebted to my mentors Yuval Bar Zemer, Hans Barnard, Ran Boytner, Michael DeNiro, Enmanuel Gomez, Sabine Hyland, Stella Nair, Charles Stanish, and Willeke Wendrich.” Obviously, this was meant to appease the Cotsen community by reminding them of their “magnanimous” support in the past. As another commentator observed, this article was published only a few months after UCLA forced IFR to cancel her field school due to the Title IX findings. Apparently at the time IFR were already working on running another field season with her in 2017, this time without UCLA’s backing, so no wonder she would thank that institute’s support and her fellow board members “mentors”.
Each one of Kurin’s blog posts has one purpose and one purpose only: to manipulate people’s mind. And if you don’t have enough background to realize what she is doing, all these dangerous games end up drawing more victims into her devious sphere of control."
Charles "I did not do anything wrong” Stanish’s incessant patronage of Ran Boytner--despite his active involvement in Boytner’s UCLA/Civil Court sexual abuse case--was amply covered in this blog with multiple receipts. What is less known is that Stanish’s collaboration with Danielle Kurin and Enmanuel Gomez goes way back, when he involved them in the Taraco project in 2012. But here’s the real clincher. In 2016 Stanish collaborated with Kurin on a major 2-yr UC grant, over a quarter-million of tax dollars’ worth, awarded in December of that year. Yup, just a few months after UCLA dropped her field school due to the Title IX findings. Fortunately for Kurin (and Gomez), Stanish was also on the IFR board so it was simply a matter of offering her a seat on that board and then sanctioning their field schools in Sondor and Wari through IFR. Turned out not so fortunate, though, for them students who participated in those field schools.
Some receipts here:
Many thanks to Charles Stanish and the Cotsen Institute of Archaeology for their support of this research, the Peruvian Ministry of Culture, and the Municipality of Taraco. Many thanks to Cecilia Chávez, Danielle Kurin, Manuel Gomez, Karl La Favre, and all the members of Proyecto Taraco, Perú.
2016 UC Catalyst Multi Campus Research program in paleogenomics, University of
California. Lead Principal Investigator: Lars Fehren-Schmitz, Ph.D. Collaborating
Campuses: Los Angeles (Stanish), Merced (Torres-Rouff, Santa Barbara (Kurin)
I follow the comments on this post closely, as a doctoral graduate of UCLA archaeology interested in the public reception of this story. In general, I see that some anonymous commenters are conducting independent sleuthing, likely with little context of UCLA Cotsen or IFR ca. 2000s-2010s, in attempt to identify associates of Kurin, Gomez, Stanish, or Boytner who may have supported or helped cover-up unsavory activities.
As this story gathers more and more attention, please be respectful of researchers who conducted work alongside or under the mentorship of these archaeologists. We know that in such scandals, even close associates can be completely unaware of unsavory activities. This should come as no surprise, as it is now apparent that the people in charge of these institutions and research projects put effort into covering up the incidents as they happened.
As a former colleague of Boytner, it has been depressed and distressing this past year to learn the details of this story. It is further distressing and alarming to think that people on the internet might name myself or my colleagues as a "person of interest" in the Kurin/Boytner scandal merely because we thanked them in a dissertation, co-published a paper with them, or studied under them.
Unfortunately, internet sleuthing without adequate context often leads to incorrect identifications of perpetrators, and has led to actual harm in real life via internet mobs - in terms of physical threat or harm, property damage, and professional reputation. [For examples: https://threadreaderapp.com/thread/1348315820816941056.html]
Implying knowledge and acceptance of sexual misconduct is a very serious accusation!
[Full disclosure: I thanked Stanish, IFR, and Boytner in my dissertation acknowledgements, which are a matter of public record: https://escholarship.org/uc/item/5gj2w070. IFR and Boytner supported my fieldwork via the field school program. Stanish directed the Cotsen during my graduate studies, thus supported my work. For the record, as a graduate student from 2008 to 2015, I was completely unaware of these issues with Stanish and Boytner. I am quite convinced that most faculty at UCLA were also unaware.]
*I tried to post this earlier but given that comments are limited to 4,096 characters, I am separating into two parts.
Overall I agree with Ms. Martin’s comment on not throwing graduate students into the mix, with an added caveat on which I will elaborate on below. I only check the blog sporadically so didn’t see who was named in that deleted comment, and frankly prefer not knowing. Every honest person will recognize that we shouldn’t blame the children for the sins of their academic parents. I spot above other observations to the effect that we should be cautious with sweeping comments like “everyone knew.” This, nonetheless, won’t be the first time I see remarks referencing associates’ names, websites and publications in an attempt to make Kurin’s and Boytner’s wrongdoing publicly known, but I assume that this is partly because they diligently removed all traces of their CVs from the web (I searched.) All the same, I am learning plenty from the more substantiated commentaries, sometimes even more so than the blog itself, so I consider their benefit to outweigh the potential harm.
I think someone else wrote earlier that seeking accountability for what has happened is one thing; making sure it doesn’t happen again is quite another. Not sure if Boytner is still serious about starting his new field science operation, but at least enough colleagues are now keeping an open eye and will guarantee our students and professional associations are alerted if this ever happened. With that, I cannot shake the feeling that even with Boytner, Stanish and Kurin gone from IFR ranks, nothing has really changed. The board is still governed by those who were involved and complicit from day one. More to my point, being unaware of their involvement back then does not excuse someone from not knowing now, when this information is out in the open and has been circulating for several months in virtual and whisper networks.
In this context, I have been following with growing concern how the post-Boytner IFR is shaping up. For one, Willeke Wendrich is back at her role as IFR board co-chair alongside Lynn Swartz Dodd. There is enough compelling evidence to suggest that either one, or in all probability both of them (along with Stanish), knew about Boytner’s and Kurin’s Title IX investigations for quite some time. At best they turned a blind eye, at worst they empowered and enabled known offenders to continue their abusive behavior towards students and employees. When a group of nineteen Cotsen students confronted Wendrich about it, she continued to lie and defend those individuals because exposing their improprieties would have risked exposing her own. She dodged transparency and responsibility by hiding behind legal pretexts and deflecting blame. Horrifically, she even attempted to rationalize Boytner’s repeated misconduct as “not sexual harassment”, when every piece of evidence presented thus far points to it being so, and much worse. This alone plainly demonstrates how twisted her moral compass is. At the end of the day I am not sure what frightens me more: an international field school organization lead by serial harassers, or one lead by serial enablers.
Perhaps the most worrisome development is that Wendrich is presently populating IFR positions with her former graduate students, whose main job is to enroll new students to field programs. There was one employee over the summer who since then disappeared, and another one appointed just recently. I truly like to believe that they took these jobs in good faith. Still, judging from the acknowledgments in their dissertations and CVs, these former doctoral advisees are clearly indebted to Wendrich while their research and publications are linked with hers. No open searches for these positions can be found online, so the assumption is that these were offered internally. This may be in part due to the IFR reputation which deters potential employees, but more likely it is motivated by nepotism pure and simple, aimed to build a loyalist defense wall around the organization.
A quick inspection of IFR field schools also shows that among the very few that still remain active, are programs directed by yet two other of Wendrich’s former graduate students. These two programs are operating in locations where it would be utterly irresponsible to even consider sending students and faculty in summer 2021, let alone the immediate danger this will pose to an unvaccinated local population. I am told that these programs are actively enrolling students and are being promoted frequently on social media. I am not sure if this is loyalism or an IFR marketing ploy, but it is alarming that Wendrich is deploying her former graduate students in such a way.
This in itself is nothing new, and the practice of recruiting UCLA and Cotsen Institute students as field school directors, teaching assistants and paying participants for IFR field schools has been discussed extensively on this blog, even though Wendrich did her best to downplay this questionable arrangement in the June meeting. But herein lies the part that I find most critical. Those former students of Wendrich are now fully-fledged scholars in their own right, and are being entrusted with direct responsibility over students. It is therefore their obligation to all those students to investigate and educate themselves about the organization and people for which they work for. The accused will rarely admit to the accusations, which is why anyone who is seeking the truth should never stop there. There are those in the Bruin and archaeological community who will talk, and some had clearly done so in this blog. Anything less will only perpetuate this legacy of negligence, and carries the danger of making one an accomplice by association and inaction.
I will close this long comment by reiterating that my intention is not to point fingers or start a witch hunt, but rather prevent the same thing from happening again. Students were assaulted and bullied repeatedly, one perhaps even took their own life, not because of those who were unaware like Ms. Martin and others, but because of those who were aware, and yet did nothing to prevent this tragic outcome.
To clarify, the former graduate student of Stanish who was named in the deleted post has had (1) little to do with archaeology and (2) nothing to do with IFR since graduating several years ago. Prior to this blog's publication of the story, this person had no knowledge of the issues. After filing their dissertation, they moved on to an entirely different career. This is true for many UCLA archaeology alumni, which is why I found the mention of this person's name particularly alarming.
Clearly, for at least to one person interested in this story, it is necessary to explain that many UCLA graduate students, IFR field school students and TAs - and even graduate students conducting research in Peru - were unaware of the scandal.
As I have noted, and Mr. Balter has reported, we graduate students in archaeology at UCLA were encouraged to collect our master's and doctoral research via Boytner's field school programs. When Boytner left UCLA to form IFR, UCLA faculty lied to us about the cause of his departure. They told us that Boytner was let go from UCLA due to a funding shortage and/or inability to reconcile financial accounting issues. IFR was then presented to us as the default fieldwork funding mechanism absent other funding sources, which have become increasingly scarce since the 2000s. By 2016, I knew enough to not be surprised by reports on this blog, and to be upset that faculty lied to us about Boytner.
The above commenter is correct that IFR has historically recruited staff of all levels from undergraduate and graduate alumni of UCLA. While I was finishing my dissertation, a faculty member at UCLA suggested I apply for a position in the Los Angeles IFR office. I don't believe that faculty member knew, at the time, of these issues. I agree that, at this point, with the information that is publicly available, it's fair to question the integrity of people who continue to work for IFR or for Boytner.
Following on these latest developments with much interest and am sorry (but maybe not too surprised) to read that UCLA graduate students were deceived so brazenly by their own faculty. Sits well with other things I know and heard. If it doesn’t compromise no one, I know many of us would appreciate to learn more about the statement “They told us that Boytner was let go from UCLA due to a funding shortage and/or inability to reconcile financial accounting issues.” We all heard about that first part, but this is the first time I hear of Boytner’s inability to reconcile the finances of the archaeology field program. Seems like more was hidden from those in the Cotsen community who got involved in the program, but who were otherwise not privy to the murky reality behind its operation.
That’s a very good question and one that myself and others often wondered about. Here’s a gist of what can be gathered so far. After some trials and tribulations Boytner eventually graduated under Stanish, so that’s where it all started. I think some aspects of this unlikely dependency and eventual complicity grew organically out of their friendship and then collaboration on the Chile field school and especially the CIoA field program. It worked because, as you say, Stanish brought the reputation and contacts while Boytner was willing to do all the legwork. In many ways that arrangement wasn’t that different from their earlier advisor-student relationship, but Boytner got really consumed by the idea and managed to suck Stanish deeper in. Stanish often vouched for Boytner around campus, and that always puts an additional burden of proof on the referee. My hunch is that it turned into a more sinister sort of dependence when Boytner dropped the ball with IEO staff, and then that unfortunate incident with the student in Peru. About that last bit, looks like Stanish wasn’t too outraged because they shared the same ethical view about relationship with their students, except that Stanish was smarter than Boytner about it (he basically waited till the course was over.) Because the field program was growing and proved so profitable to the institute he was directing at the time, over 20 field schools according to some estimates, Stanish opted to help cover up those major fuckups and was even willing to testify in Boytner's favor in his deposition. Some argued that he lied under oath, but I’m not convinced. What he certainly failed to do was enforce the restrictions imposed on Boytner by the Title IX officers, so that’s another major risk he took upon himself to keep the program afloat and his friend getting paychecks. As the earlier comment suggests, maybe there were some financial irregularities that Boytner was involved with at the time and that Stanish helped to whitewash. When it finally got to the point where Boytner proved to be more of a liability than an asset for some Cotsen faculty and he was let go, there was already enough dirty water under that bridge that Stanish probably had no option but to continue backing him up in the transition to the IFR. Let’s not forget that throughout all those years, Stanish was also funding his projects in Peru through these joint ventures with Boytner, so part of his complicity probably had to do with easy access to research money and student workers. The way things ended at UCLA and the continuing lawsuit may explain why Stanish waited a couple of years before publically jumping back on that wagon and joined the IFR board. From there I’m a bit hazy on the details so perhaps others can fill those in.
Multiple faculty and staff told me that Boytner's field school operation, run through the Study Abroad Office, then through UCLA Extension, wasn't working out at UCLA because the accounting processes for foreign fieldwork needs are too complicated to conform to UCLA Corporate Finance policies. One example given was expecting a reimbursement after paying cash for a receipt-less boat taxi trip to an island.
I accepted this explanation at the time, but later began to doubt it. As a staff program manager in two different research administration settings from 2015 to 2019, I found UCLA's Accounts Payable reimbursement policies to be quite generous, with special cash petty funds issued for such costs. I'm not sure how the accounting needs for archaeological fieldwork differ that much from other global research programs run through UCLA; for example, geography, geology, field biology. (Personally, my water taxi fares never amounted to more than a few US$bucks.)
The same people gave me another, similar reason around the same time: that university study abroad insurance policies couldn't handle the liabilities of archaeology research and training. Jokes were made about snakebites and tropical diseases. Again, UCLA runs programs for similar field research areas of study - not sure how a field biology project requiring day-long hikes through the rain forest differs substantially from archaeological survey or excavation. And, other universities, even in the UC system, still offer archaeological field schools. Anyhow, UC has always required each participant in study abroad to carry full international medical insurance binders including, if I recall correctly, emergency airlift and medical transportation coverage.
Perhaps if subjecting field school students to sexual misconduct is a standard peculiarity of archaeological field schools, then this last reason may be more accurate. I didn't make the possible connection that this mysterious "liability" might refer to this, until after learning of the lawsuit against UCLA due to Boytner's misconduct. I do wonder if this was faculty's clever way of being "honest" with us about the cause of Boytner's departure and the transition of field schools from UCLA to a private organization?
Amidst globally rising infection rates and death toll, new virus strains reported daily, and slow or nonexistent vaccine distribution for most countries, the Institute for Field Research is announcing today new field schools on their website:
Most if not all current IFR field programs are in countries which are listed among the worst affected hotspots in Europe, Asia, and North America:
The dry corporate logic is explained on the bottom of their web page, under “Student Safety”:
“The IFR primary concern is with education. Traveling and conducting field research involve risk. Students interested in participating in IFR programs must weigh whether the potential risk is worth the value of education provided.”
No, the main reason for them going rogue was unquestionably the freedom to operate under the radar and keep compliance and due process mechanisms internally. Judging by some of the earlier comments, that is certainly something that Boytner and Stanish could have seen the need for and benefit of. As Wendrich explained to the participants in the town hall, the IFR changed three accrediting schools in the first years of their operation before finally settling on Connecticut College, not incidentally the home institution of member (and chair?) of the IFR board of governors. It will be interesting to investigate why those other schools of record and IFR severed ties, and especially if ‘excessive’ oversight from the former on the latter was the determining factor.
All this goes beyond academic curiosity, and circles back to Kurin’s field school in Peru and Wendrich’s clear statement that as an independent non-profit the IFR is not bound by Title IX obligations and thus are conducting their investigations internally. As a reminder, the IFR board were asked on several occasions in the last months to comment publicly or allow an external investigation, but refused with their muzzled silence. So what about the responsibility of Connecticut College as the IFR school of record? Shouldn’t they investigate an organization that operates under their institutional banner and has been recently identified as an “organization of interest” in a major lawsuit? This clearly cannot be the decision of the Connecticut College faculty who is on the IFR board, but rather their internal audit department if such exists.
Lana S. Martin, PhD said…
“The same people gave me another, similar reason around the same time: that university study abroad insurance policies couldn't handle the liabilities of archaeology research and training”.
If you were around UCLA in early 2011 perhaps you’d remember this little episode:
I hadn’t really thought about it since then, but now realize the hypocrisy behind this whole charade. This was the time when Willeke was aiding Ran in building the IFR but she and Hans were still running their Egypt field schools through UCLA. At that point Ran was already kicked out which explains why he’s not mentioned. Anyway, that wasn’t the first or last time that study abroad and its insurance providers had to evacuate students and research teams, and judging by the reporter they did darn good. Willeke even admits so towards the end there.
Shutting down the archaeology program had nothing to do with UCLA unable to handle liabilities of field schools, and everything to do with problematic personalities and their sexual misconduct in the field.
I was around in 2011, and, yes, I now remember the evacuation from Egypt. Thanks for reminding me - I had forgotten amidst all seven years of drama in grad school at UCLA.
Obviously, the Egypt incident and its genuine insurance liability concerns is not a legitimate reason to completely abandon university-run field schools. (1) University programs can run field school domestically and internationally, just not in areas with ongoing civil unrest. (2) If there is civil unrest to this degree, *no entity private nor public* should be offered a field school to undergraduates as a vouched, safe experience.
Further, I understand from my friendly neighborhood Egyptologists that more than enough archived - and even digitized, analyzable - material data exists in many countries that could facilitate hundreds of theses and dissertations!
I respectfully disagree. The anonymous commenter above is highlighting the small picture view of the Kurin/Gomez/Boytner/Stanish/UCLA/IFR issues. "Small picture", as in, the incidents themselves and the treatment of Boytner as an individual.
The big picture view of these incidents is also important to consider, both in determining (1) who at UCLA was responsible for the cover-ups and (2) how academia could be modified to prevent such problems in the future. "Big picture," as in, what machinations UCLA administration used to prevent the real story from coming out to faculty and graduate students who were otherwise unaware. The rationale (budget cuts, safety concerns, accounting complexities) which UCLA administration cited for Boytner's departure is precisely what creates a culture of obfuscation and denial. These are important processes to note.
Mr. Balter's reporting on faculty misconduct and cover-ups includes the broader systemic processes and attitudes embedded in universities which help downplay the severity of - or completely obfuscate from institutional knowledge - the incidents and perpetrators. Indeed, the original topic of Mr. Balter's post was the UCLA Town Hall in which general administrative responsibilities were discussed.
> In summer of 2015, Kurin’s field school in Andahuaylas (Peru) was offered through UCSB. Enmanuel Gomez Choque, at the time Kurin’s partner and project co-director, was also listed on the UCSB Walker Bioarchaeology Lab website.
> Following complaints by students who were sexually harassed by Gomez and then retaliated against by Kurin for reporting, UCSB dropped the program and launched a title ix investigation. Several UCSB administrators and faculty involved, including then anthropology department chair Stuart T. Smith.
> In early 2016, while still under investigation, Kurin joins the IFR board of directors (possibly at the invitation of Ran Boytner and Charles Stanish.) At the time Willeke Wendrich was chairperson of the board of governors and academic board.
> In summer of 2016 Kurin offered her Andahuaylas (Sondor) field school through IFR, together with Gomez as co-instructor.
> At the time, this and all IFR field schools were accredited by the UCLA Extension Program. Kurin’s is listed in their catalog as course ARCH XL159.
> Mr. Balter’s investigation revealed that in June 2016, UCLA Extension pulled the plug on the field school upon finding out Kurin was placed under administrative leave due to the title ix findings. Kevin Vaughn, who represented UCLA in the negotiations, later joined the IFR board.
> In summer of 2017, IFR offered again two consecutive sessions of Kurin’s Sondor field school.
> This time, Kurin’s field school was the only one in IFR catalog without UCLA Extension credits (disclaimer provided on top.) IFR also removed Gomez from the instructors’ roster suggesting they were aware of earlier concerns, although he was still involved in instructing students. According to Mr. Balter’s reporting, students were also harassed by Gomez that year but may have not reported at the time.
> In 2017, Anthony P. Graesch, an Associate Professor in the Department of Anthropology at Connecticut College, replaced Wendrich as chair of the IFR academic board.
> In summer of 2018 IFR offered again Kurin’s Sondor field school.
> IFR also approved a new field school under her co-directorship in Wari. Although not listed, Gomez was still involved as an instructor.
> Both field schools were now accredited through Connecticut College, and were listed in their course catalog under ARCH 315B and ARCH 315H.
> During the Wari field school students were, again, sexually harassed and assaulted by Gomez. IFR launched an investigation, although let Kurin run her Sondor field school during that time. In October 2018 IFR announced that they will no longer work with Kurin and she is removed from the board.
I noticed that in the past couple of days, one of the Kurin related sockpuppets has been trying to impersonate the person at the center of the September controversy and twitter mobbing. This same sockpuppet had circulated the confidential NASW complaint in the comments section of this blog (quickly deleted by Balter after realizing it was not public as the sockpuppet had claimed) and on twitter. I also noticed that an ECR had been getting anonymous venomous messages on her blog and elsewhere pretending to be a Balter supporter. Of course, because this ECR is widely known as despising Balter, his “supporters” get blamed. People wake up!!! Don’t you realize how these people like Kurin and Ran Boytner operate in real life? On spreading false innuendos to activate outrage and disgust. They thrive on dissension and pitting people who should be allies against each other for their own purposes.
1. Stuart Smith knew about Kurin’s Title IX while it was in progress and he knew the findings, which were published in June 2016. He of course also knew about her administrative leave and the reasons for it.
2. Kevin Vaughn, academic dean for UCLA Extension, knew about the findings. So did Ran Boytner.
3. Willeke Wendrich knew about the Title IX no later than Oct 2016, and quite possibly earlier. She knew that Kurin was on administrative leave when IFR allowed her to have field schools in 2017 and 2018.
4. I have no comment on Dodd at this time. Someone might ask her what she knew.
I have disallowed a post that was quite speculative about what someone associated with IFR might have known about the issues we are discussing. As Lana asked earlier, pleases restrict such comments to situations for which there is either actual evidence or strong reason to believe the claims. Thank you.
One thing I am still not clear about is whether or not Connecticut College was involved or implicated in the 2018 IFR investigation. If Kurin’s field schools were listed as archaeology courses in their catalog, and students received credit units, grades, and transcripts from that institution, then for all intents and purposes the victims were affiliated with the college at the time.
According to their Title IX Policy,
“the College defines “student” as any individual who has accepted an offer of admission, or who is registered or enrolled for credit or non-credit bearing coursework, and who maintains an ongoing relationship with the College”
“Education program or activity means locations, events, or circumstances where Connecticut College exercises substantial control over both the Respondent and the context in which the sexual harassment or discrimination occurs.”
I would say this definitely applies in this case and that makes Connecticut College at least partially responsible. Not only did they approve a field school that was rejected by any other university, there are good reasons to believe that their representatives at the IFR board of directors knew that there was a viable risk for students.
Concerning your point, four comments above:
4. I have no comment on Dodd at this time. Someone might ask her what she knew.
It may interest you to know that while the UCLA legal affair was going down in 2010, Ran Boytner attempted to jump ships and relocate the archaeology field program to USC where he was still teaching some courses. Lynn Dodd helped push for it. It wasn’t approved, and I am guessing having a USC student suing him at the time for sexual assault had put a serious damper on his sales pitch. That is probably why he eventually went independent, less questions asked. What I am flabbergasted about is why on earth Dodd, who was informed by her students about what had happened in 2009, would still help Boytner and was even OK with him taking more USC students down to Peru for his IFR field school couple of years later. Knowing his history, was she not worried at all? Figured she had more sense than that.
You may have a point there. When browsing through the history of the “Board of Directors” I noted that the IFR always had an attorney listed as member. I know other nonprofits with legal representation on board so didn’t think much of it. What I missed earlier is that after Kurin joined as board member, yet another lawyer popped up on their directory. Could be just coincidence, but an interesting staffing choice considering what we now know about Kurin’s legal issues with UCSB.
You know what they say about honest lawyers, but often they are also a bit more cautious about lying on record or under oath. Maybe you can ask them what they know.