A Hebrew University student who filed a sexual harassment complaint against a senior professor identified herself publicly on Facebook on Wednesday, a day after the university announced the professor will stop teaching and counseling students, will be barred from campus for 18 months and will pay her compensation.
In her post, Efrat Jacob, who filed the complaint against Mario Schneider, a professor of political science, said her decision to go public “was primarily for myself, an opportunity to thank all those who supported me and helped me any way they could.”
She said the harassment had continued for about six months, as did the handling of her complaint. “But yesterday it was over,” she wrote. “Prof. Mario Schneider has been dismissed from Hebrew University.”
The complaint, first reported by Channel 10 last month, was made to the university authorities, not to the police, and was handled by the university’s disciplinary apparatus. Jacob said Schneider had harassed her verbally, saying things like, “It’s known that Yemenite women are hot,” and that he had summoned her to his office, where he touched her against her will and molested her.
The university investigated the complaint and found grounds for pursuing disciplinary action.
“The lecturer will no longer teach or counsel students in the future,” university rector Asher Cohen wrote in a letter to the entire student body Tuesday. “He will not be able to enter the university’s Mount Scopus campus for a year and a half, and for five years will not be allowed to participate in academic conferences or seminars at the university or sponsored by it. The lecturer has agreed to pay the student significant compensation. The student has committed not to make any additional future claims against the lecturer.”
Schneider is 67 and was due to retire in any case. He will pay Jacob 95,000 shekels (nearly $24,000).
In his letter, Cohen added that the lecturer “took responsibility for his improper behavior toward the student and for the offensive and degrading treatment.” He said Schneider has “expressed regret for his actions and apologized for the distress caused to the student.”
In her Facebook post Wednesday, Jacob went into detail about the harassment, saying it had begun on a 10-day class trip abroad that was a component of the course she was taking with Schneider, “during which he harassed me several times and even touched me on several occasions.”
“One day, when we were waiting in line someplace, Mario approached me and said, ‘Your skirt is too short and it’s hard for me to concentrate like that. I’m asking you not to come like that,’” wrote Jacob. “He didn’t hesitate when he said it and he wasn’t joking with me, he was serious. My lecturer is looking at my body and telling me that my skirt interferes with his concentration. What was going on here?
“It didn’t end there; that was just the beginning. Later on there were comments about my rear end and there was touching. He had narrowed me down to my body parts. Mario related to my body in a callous, hurtful, racist and degrading way.”
After their return to Israel, she said, she continued to feel uncomfortable and even fearful in his presence, and tried her best to avoid him. “The halls of the social sciences department were not safe for me; I would walk slowly to see if he was coming, staying close to openings so I could flee,” wrote Jacob. “Every stroll through the campus became a [military] maneuver.”
But she couldn’t always avoid him. Once, she wrote, “he appeared in front of me” on campus.
“I froze,” wrote Jacob. “I know that he’s dangerous to me but my body doesn’t move, I just mumble something about hurrying and having to go, but he didn’t care. He doesn’t see me at all and doesn’t hear my ‘no’ at all.”
She also wrote that at one point he attempted to kiss her, adding: “I fled, terrified, and started to run through the campus, crying. I couldn’t calm down.”
The fear had larger ramifications for her studies, said Jacob.
“Every lecturer became a suspect,” she wrote. “I had to always be on guard, to pay attention to what I was wearing and how I spoke and where I was going. It was exhausting. I had come to study but I couldn’t concentrate because I was busy avoiding dangers.”