The long-awaited meeting of the University of California, Santa Barbara anthropology department to consider archaeologist Danielle Kurin's bid for tenure apparently took place in the afternoon of January 29.
Whether or not Kurin will actually get tenure has been a burning question for the archaeology community. Between 2016-2019 she was put on a three year administrative leave after a university Title IX proceeding found that she had retaliated against students who reported her then partner (and later husband) for sexual harassment. I have reported extensively on this and other allegations, and she has filed a $10 million defamation suit against me because of my accurate reporting about her.
I have only one source for the January 29 meeting, but it's a source I consider reliable in this particular situation: Kurin's own attorney.
In a letter to my legal team this morning, February 8, Kurin's counsel told us about the meeting, and then went on to conclude that I had a mole in the room who told me about it as it was going on.
What made the attorney think this?
By a pretty remarkable coincidence, just as the meeting was going on, I made a comment about the tenure process on Twitter in response to a query by a follower:
Someone on Kurin's team interpreted this comment, which was meant just generally (it is true that Kurin's tenure process is taking longer than usual) to mean that I had a source in the meeting, and that the source had told me that the meeting was taking longer than usual. Unfortunately, Kurin's team has jumped to incorrect conclusions.
Kurin is now demanding that I identify the nonexistent source in the meeting, and that if I don't, her team will go to the judge and ask him to compel me to identify the source. If I don't, we were told, they would ask the judge for sanctions and court costs.
Again, there is no such source. But Kurin's threat to file motions and seek sanctions against me is just one more example of the kind of tactics that I have had to endure as she desperately tries to stop both me and the survivors from speaking the truth. It has not worked up to now, and it will not work ever.
Update Feb 9, 2021: On sources.
As is clear from the above and previous events, Kurin has made it clear that she is determined to try to force me to reveal my confidential sources. For a journalist, having sources is not a bad thing, it's a good thing--and the more sources the better. They allow us to confirm and cross-check our information, and they give us tips for story leads that we should follow up.
What does it mean when a source asks to remain anonymous? Usually, it is because they fear retaliation or other negative consequences if they speak publicly. In the case of Danielle Kurin, many of her colleagues in archaeology, knowing her long history of retaliation, bullying, and litigiousness, have only talked to me under conditions of confidentiality. But they talk to me, because they too want the truth to come out.
Michael- I am guessing you cannot say more about what today’s letter revealed about that overdue tenure meeting. Nonetheless, I am also guessing that the mere fact that it is Kurin’s legal team who are contacting you about an otherwise purely academic affair, and the fact that they are — a week later — feverishly engaging in mole-hunting, also means it didn’t bode so well for her.
Not need to confirm; I’m simply expressing my wishful thinking.
I wouldn't be much of a reporter if I did not have sources in the department after well more than a year of reporting on Danielle Kurin.
But that is a separate question from whether anyone in the department would violate the confidentiality of the Jan 29 meeting, which, as I noted, we found out about from Kurin's attorney and no other source.
That means the anthropology faculty did not cross the red line of leaking what went on at that meeting. No matter what happens with Kurin's tenure, she is not going to be able to blame it on a mole in the meeting. The faculty will make its own decisions, not only free of any interference from a reporter, but also free of fear Kurin's well known intimidation tactics.
By the time of Kurin’s Title IX, which came down against her in June 2016, UCSB was aware of TWO complaints against Kurin by students in her osteology class, one by a student named Lara and the other “Jessica.” I wrote about those in earlier blog posts which can be found by searching the blog under those names. But they still did not fire her, despite these two previous episodes. Why not? This is something our team wants to know.
I've been clcking on this several times a day to see if the dep updated the assistant professor under her picture
nothing so far
Anyone ever noticed that the list of Alumni/PhD Recipients in Anthropology does not contain even a single graduate assigned to Kurin? Even those who were working on bioarchaeology and South American archaeology between 2016, when Kurin started, and 2020 are listed with other faculty advisors and emeriti professors. I counted at least 7 such cases, but maybe there’s more. It seems like the department really doesn’t want her name listed on there.
The important point is that this glaring omission was in practice since she started at UCSB, which means it has nothing to do with Balter’s alleged “defamation” of her. She simply brought it upon herself.
After six years in tenure-track, an assistant prof at R1 university with not a single grad mentee to their name is well beyond a red flag for prospective students. It’s a red alert with sirens blaring “GO ELSEWHERE”!
Re Kurin's six years in the tenure track, I note that three of those years (2016-2019) were spent on administrative leave as the result of the Title IX findings that she had retaliated against students who reported sexual harassment by her then partner (whom Kurin married while the Title IX process was ongoing.
As for the grad student who was thinking about working with Kurin, I can quote from my Amended Answer to Kurin's complaint, which is a public document on the court docket:
potential Ph.D. grad student to the UCSB program. The student was excited, as she
was to be awarded a very generous package of support while working toward her Ph.D. and had come to the UCSB campus for a visit. Somehow, during that visit, Balter learned of private, Personally Identifiable Information about this prospective student, and then contacted and hounded her via email, wrote numerous lies
about Kurin to her, and coerced her into withdrawing her candidacy.' The first two sentences of this statement are true. The last sentence is completely false. The student, while visiting UCSB, was contacted by both faculty and students in the department and warned about Kurin’s history, which included not only enabling of sexual abuse in Peru but abuse of students at UCSB itself. This abuse has been known in the department for many years and predates her administrative leave from 2016-2019 and certainly predates Balter’s knowledge that Kurin existed. One member of the department asked Balter to send the student links to his reporting, which Balter did. Balter sent the student one email to which she did not respond. Everything Balter told the student was true. Balter did not 'coerce' the student into withdrawing her candidacy, nor was he in any position to do so. The
student withdrew of her own accord after having been accurately informed about Kurin’sbehavior by several individuals."