Defamations that hid the case of professor JdM at the University of Barcelona
Unlike most journalists who are acting very professionally and ethically informing of the fight of the victims against gender violence in universities, the 13th of June, 2016 there was a small part that spread some lies against CREA that managed to end up completely the massive campaign against the reincorporation of professor JdM to the University of Barcelona. That day, sexual harassers of the university celebrated it ostentatiously, while the victims of gender violence of our universities were re-victimized.
To achieve that goal, any lie worked. Some media spread the attacks of a man who explained in detail what he had lived as a member of CREA while not only has he never been a member but also most of us do not even know him. A university professor that we expelled from CREA because he did a big forgery in the sample of an article found that same day the opportunity to take revenge by launching all sorts of lies.
We are receiving numerous anonymous defamations and false accusations through Internet and word of mouth among diverse people. This document will be updated as we receive more information.
A) As mentioned previously, those people were joined by others for personal and/or professional rancor, who found the perfect occasion to add fuel to the fire. There are people external to the academia who attack us. For instance, the fact that results of our research are achieving educational improvements in many schools and thus many people can no longer sell their training courses or programs that do not improve any educational achievement. This is only one example of what occurs in different spheres. These people feel questioned and they attack us using the same defamations as the lobby in university that started their anonymous defamations through Internet in 2004. Hence there are people that we do not even know and who we never had any interaction with, and who contribute to disseminating this slander.
B) The motivations for the defamations respond to the historical logic of trying to eradicate those people or groups of people who have generated a scientific progress and/or social transformation. People such as Darwin, Montessori, Hipatia, Ferrer I Guardia or schools such as Highlander have been subjects of attacks and defamations. The same happens with the internationally most cited research center in social sciences in Spain.
B) On 8 June 2016, a journalist told us that three reports had been filed against us and that the University of Barcelona has handed them over to the state prosecutor. Our attorney has requested this information to the University of Barcelona and they did not want to provide it.
C) On the other hand, we have reported the anonymous defamations on the Internet and social media and they are currently investigated by the police.
1. ACCUSATION OF REPORTS FILED AGAINST CREA
Defamations and lies that state that CREA has been investigated for reasons that are untrue have been spread.
A) The President of the UB published a resolution on 29 September of 2011 stating that there was no such investigation, nor a punitive record and neither an informative record. They only gathered some sort of information that we have legally requested in diverse occasions over the last 10 years and that we never got to see. Even the Ombudsman of Catalonia was demanding explanations to the UB about what had happened and received no answer. We hope to get to the European Court of Human Rights, but are aware that in front of the evidences and the fear about discovering the truth, any document must have been destroyed already.
B) In 2004, the UB could not find any problem in CREA and especially nothing that could be linked to a sect. On 25 May 2005 the UB send the information about CREA to the state prosecutor to find out whether they could find any crime. On 21 November 2005 the prosecutor of the Supreme Court of Justice in Catalonia decreed that the file was closed as no crime or any reason to start an investigation was found.
C) CREA demanded several times to the UB President to have an informative record to officially find out who made these accusations and why. That way we could have easily demonstrated that it was a lie but we could have known whether false evidence was provided such as falsified emails or records. None of the Presidents has ever provided us with that information. For 10 years CREA has legally demanded these reports to be able to respond to it. We never officially knew what we were accused of and who accused us. But in the university hallways as well as in other contexts plenty of accusations were made.
D) Those who attack us are aware that they are lying and they hide in anonymity, because they know that in a public debate the truth would come to light and that their accusations would have legal consequences. Filing reports that we cannot answer is used to later say that “CREA is being/has been investigated”. Probably we are the research center that has received most and myriad anonymous reports without every finding anything punishable.
On 27 January 2005 the President Joan Tugores sent an official letter to the Director of REA asking him to “act as a Director”. On 1 September 2006, after the death of one of the members of CREA, Jesús Gómez, the Director of CREA demanded his resignation to be accepted by the new President Marius Rubiralta. On 12 December 2006, President Rubiralta officially accepted the resignation.
Both accusations are false. When the university receives claims and reports they contemplate whether to investigate them. If so, an informative record is filed that can lead to a disciplinary record if evidence is found. In this process of records, the accused has the chance to provide evidence and even to demonstrate that the evidence provided by the accuser is false, such as false emails or recorded phone calls.
Information about CREA has been gathered that did not even lead to any record, neither disciplinary, nor informative.
The state prosecutor did not contact CREA for investigating us and neither for taking any measures. They did not find any crime that needed to be investigated.
What kind of measures did the UB ask us to take? They were the following:
- Eliminate the ethical guidelines of CREA
- Cancel the annual meetings
- Cancel the food tickets for the precarious members
- Start and internal debate about a regulation of doctoral researchers and a regulation on publications.
In the letter sent by CREA to inform the President about the fulfillment of the requested measures (13 July 2006) we also specified that we would take any measures that he considers necessary. We never received any further requests.
CREA had a ethical guidelines that had been approved by the UB in 1995 and there has never been any problem with it until 2004, when we decided to include another element (following the ethical guidelines of international scientific associations). At that point the ethical guidelines were receiving attacks to the point that we had to eliminate this aspect which was: “In case of gender violence, all members of CREA want to contribute, according to the possible means, to its eradication. For this reason, we claim for 0 tolerance of mistreatment – just like different organizations do. We consider that it is indispensible (1) to always take a stance in favor of the victim and never in favor of the perpetrator and (2) to collaborate with the victim to explain and report all those cases that we know of, be it a case of people that are close to us or not, with the aim to improve the quality of life of all people and, especially, of women who have been victim of mistreatment.”
As most research centers internationally, CREA celebrated annual meetings to debate on scientific and ethical issues of international research and the incorporation of these issues in our center.
Due to the wage differences between professors and doctoral researchers/scholarship holders in universities, CREA started to distribute food tickets so that the precarious staff of CREA could afford a meal in university if they wanted to. We had to suppress these tickets.
After the attack on potential interferences on the private life and discriminations we also agreed upon elaborating a regulation on doctoral researchers and another regulation on publications. These accusations have never been investigated and for this reason we never had the chance to provide the evidence of their falsehood. The following procedure was initiated and is still in place: with every person who wants to apply for a scholarship with the support of CREA a previous agreement is taken and written down specifying the tasks that will be carried out. Once the scholarship was obtained and the beneficiary did no longer want to continue with this agreement for diverse reasons, he or she left CREA without any impediment. In relation to the regulation on publications we agreed to adopt the same model of regulations on intellectual property that are used in the Framework Programme of research of the European Commission.
As far as we know about the legal procedures of universities, usually reports are sent to the state prosecutor, but only our case was leaked to the press without giving us any information about who was filing the report and what its content is. In fact, we learned about the report because a journalist told us instead of the University of Barcelona. This is not the first case and neither the last to be passed to the state prosecutor. In any case, by allowing these actions they violated our rights (and our goods that are legally protected) in the following terms: violation of the right of honor, image rights, hindering the right of defense, and (non-explicit) tacit support of the slanderer. All these facts have been reported through legal means for 10 years now.
Now 11 years later, the current President Didac Ramirez sends another three reports to the state prosecutor without informing CREA about the authors of the accusations, the accusations itself or the evidence provided. On the contrary, in the case of JDM, before passing the case on to the state prosecutor, the UB held three processes in which victims had to declare, but by the time they sent it to the state prosecutor who found evidence of crime the cases had expired. JDM did know who the victims were, what he was accused of and which evidence had been provided. This is a very different treatment than the one that we received, who have broken the silence on gender violence in universities.
2. ACCUSATION OF BEING A COERCIVE CENTER
Several of the anonymous defamations that are posted online and that are talked about in the university hallways and other spaces falsely accuse CREA of acting like a coercive center and/or a sect.
You only have to have a look at our homepage to see that this is not true with lots of evidence. Our internal diversity (different cultural groups, religions, ideologies, lifestyles) is much greater than in most other research groups.
Also many and very diverse people and collectives support us. We have the support and collaborate with all kinds of governments, associations, and collectives. We are further linked to the internationally most prestigious universities. For this reason during 2004 a massive campaign of international solidarity was initiated to support CREA in front of the slander received online.
A) In CREA there is no discrimination on the grounds of gender. Everybody who wants to collaborate in the research we are developing and with the ethical and scientific norms that are available online is welcome. The professional success and the promising trajectories that we offer to the people who enter CREA leads many of them to continue being part of the group once they finish their scholarship or contract.
B) The proportion of women in CREA is similar to the numbers of women in the academic fields in which we are working. The leadership of projects, consolidated research groups and publications responds to the standards promoted by AMIT- Association of Women Researchers and Technologists, of which many of us are members.
The Women’s Group CREA-SAPHO meetings are attended by the women from CREA who wish so, many have never attended. These type of questions are never made in this group; actually, we study and publish that when these questions are made in context such as professional contexts, these are harassment. The people who anonymously accuse us, when they do so, they continuously and publicly speak about our sexual lives disseminating all kind of lies and libels. One of the effects they provoke with this is that other people who are not from CREA, and that sometimes we have just met, they ask us who we have had sexual relationships with. Therefore, they attack us about what they actually do and we have never done.
If by elite feminism, they mean that we work, publish and get the solidarity with our struggle from some of the most renowned feminists worldwide, that we also get the support from the European Women’s Lobby, that we publish in top ranked journals, for instance on violence against women, that we have done lectures at Harvard and Cambridge, then, they are right. However, the right word for this is not elite, but rather excellence.
If by elite feminism they understand that we do not interact with or that we consider ourselves superior to other women, this is absolutely false. We work and do research closely with unemployed women, immigrant women, Romaní women, homeless women, etc. Actually, we are renowned in international feminism, among other things, for our work with all women on equal basis.
A) It is striking that those who accuse us of being controlling the personal life of our members, is precisely and constantly questioning personal issues of CREA members. Every person in CREA eats, lives and relates to whomever he or she wants. And that is all we need to say.
B) Although no further explanations should be necessary, we do provide answers to the constant interference by the slanderers into our private lives. We thus reiterate that CREA members are completely free to, for instance, eat when and with whom they want to eat. Some people of CREA prefer to do this together talking and having fun. And this is so in any workplace, some people establish personal relationships, friendships, love relationships, etc. This is a private issue of the members of CREA.
A) Under the frame of CREA, in 1999, the Women’s Group CREA-Safo that works exactly the same as any other women’s group. Gladly they exist for many years now. Our women’s group meets once a month to discuss about issues related to gender inequalities and to our research with the aim to advance knowledge.
B) Due to the insisting defamations on the interference of CREA in the private sphere we want to emphasize that the women in CREA are completely free to participate in this group and particularly there are many women in CREA who do not participate.
C) CREA has no formal space of only men meeting.
At the monthly assemblies held by CREA (every last Friday of the month) all issues related to the research are openly discussed and everybody can raise doubts on the work that is developed. In fact the main objective of the assembly, and this is normally done, is to discuss doubts. There is no limitation to the freedom of speech. There are many work meetings that are held in different spaces and universities in which members of CREA work.
Many of the members are doctoral students with promising trajectories. They are not afraid to talk. On the contrary, they are tired of the accusations that are made against CREA y that they are pointed at in some universities. This has a negative impact on their grades and their professional life. When they ask to collaborate with CREA or apply for a scholarship with our support, we explain the campaign of defamations that we are receiving over the last decade and how we are struggling for the truth to see the light. We tell them what they will have to deal with: that faculty might approach them and attacks the research center where they are going to work, that some members will de defamed, that their professional future is in danger being related to CREA… The members of CREA are not afraid, they are brave because even despite the potential retaliations they might suffer and do suffer, they freely decide to be members.
In CREA members are free to do or not whatever they consider appropriate. Most of the reports have been filed by members with a more stable and less vulnerable position. But in occasions, when our lawyers considered it would be important, we have asked the members whether they want to join the report individually and freely.
Those who truly have suffered retaliations are not those who are attacking but the members of CREA. Some of them are:
- One student who had received the Distinction Award in her undergraduate (the best record of her promotion) and was considered by the faculty as an extraordinarily brilliant student. When she was doing her master degree she gave her testimony to a report filed against the full professor JDM for sexual harassment. From that moment on, she started getting bad grades, one professor told her that her presentation in class was horrible, some faculty were talking in the hallways whether the fact of having such good grades in her undergraduate might have been due to “something” trying to discredit her.
- In 2004, one student with a brilliant record was awarded with a competitive doctoral scholarship by the Catalan government at a department at the UB. The Department acknowledged her brilliance but still decided no to sign the acceptance of the scholarship if she did not leave CREA. So she lost the scholarship. But at the same time she went to the Ombudsman at the UB who together with the President intervened and thus they ended up accepting the student and the scholarship.
- A doctoral candidate who deposited the dissertation awaiting authorization for the defense. At the same time she applied for a Juan de la Cierva (a prestigious post-doctoral contract). Due to her brilliant academic and research trajectory, the Spanish Ministry awarded her with this post-doc contract. The Faculty issued a negative report on the dissertation that mandated her to revise the dissertation and deposit it again months later and thus lost the post-doctoral contract.
- An adjunct lecturer at a department of the UB and member of CREA applied for a post-doctoral position that was evaluated by the AGAUR (Catalan Agency for the Management of University Funding and Research). Several people applied and he was the first one selected by the AGAUR. The person who was fourth on the Reserve list started defaming CREA anonymously and in the halllways. In the end she made herself with the post-doctoral position. But the worst of the situation were the deliberate defamations she was anonymously doing against the group to which this professor belonged. This professor already suffered retaliations when he did was a doctoral candidate because of belonging to CREA, he received a negative report by the Faculty and had to revise his dissertation. Currently he holds a Juan de la Cierva at another university and is the director of a scientific journal taken into account by Scoups as a “leading journal in the field”.
During the 25 years of the history of CREA, hundreds of people have passed through CREA and we still maintain excellent relationships, and we also have very good relationships with another hundreds of people, collectives, research groups, etc. We do not know who and how many people are doing the accusations or where they come from because they are always anonymous. We neither know how many of the people who are reporting belong to other groups, and maybe they do not like the fact that their precarious doctorate candidates have to compete with our doctorate candidates (who have very good curriculums). So they appreciate the stigmatization.
We do not know these supposed testimonies. We want the case to be investigated with transparency, because there are only rumors and accusations without any evidence. Yet, this is the only way to evidence our innocence, although the harm to us is already done following the saying “slander, and something will remain”. But we must say that the suffering that we and our families, and especially our children, endure due to the slandering is highly severe and unfortunately there was one person who suffered and somatized so much that he is no longer among us.
It is true that in terms of gender issues (among others) we are very different to what is common in our universities, but not uncommon to what is reality in some of the most prestigious universities of the world, such as Harvard where the director of CREA earned her PhD. If a professor there silences a case of sexual harassment of another member he or she is automatically expelled. The same measures are taken for those who collaborate in the second order harassment: attacking victims or those who defend them. We do not keep silent in front of a potential case of harassment in our universities and this is strange here, but it is mandatory there.
3. ACCUSATION OF PROFESSIONAL MISCONDUCT PROFESSIONAL SUCCESS, PUBLICATIONS, ETC.
A group of researchers accustomed to the functioning of many international conferences in education and sociology, in which both the registration fees and the decisions about the keynote speakers and the panels are democratic, proposed to follow this line in the different national conferences that they were attending. There was not interest in doing so, and therefore they decided to freely organize new conferences together with other researchers, among with there were CREA members and non-members. Along this line, CIMIE was organized as the only International multidisciplinary conference in education that functions as the most prestigious international conferences in this field, such as AERA, ECER and WERA. Of course, many CREA researchers keep on participating in national and international conferences, such as the aforementioned ESA, ISA and FES within sociology and others within psychology, social work, etc.
The attacks were presented in an article by Mariano Fernandez Enguita criticizing the ‘Includ-ed’ project. This project, ‘Includ-ed’, was the only project of Social Science and Humanities that was included by the European Commission in its list of the 10 most successful European scientific researches in recent decades. These as well as publications in journals such as ‘Nature’, ‘Harvard Educational Review’ or ‘Cambridge Journal of Education’ are the assessments that set the scientific level.
In this link you can check comments on quality of the critic of Enguita done by persons with internationally scientific level recognized and advisor on inclusive education: http://utopiadream.info/foro/
A) In contrast to the traditional functioning of the Spanish universities, CREA has always worked similarly to the world’s top universities (and research centers) and following the international ethical and scientific standards. This has led to the development of scientific work which is highly valued internationally. At the same time, the excellent scientific work is what is most valued in a meritocratic system. This explains why many CREA researchers have managed to obtain grants, contracts and research projects at the highest level. At the same time, CREA research work is not only addressed to scientific improvement, but specially to social improvement. It is for this reason that CREA and its members are not only recognized by their scientific work but also by their social and political work.
B) It is increasingly difficult for everyone to succeed in the academic career. CREA researchers have the same difficulties as any other person. The difference is that instead of competing among us, we work in solidarity and relying on each other. This do not remove the difficulties, but it makes us stronger to deal with it.
A) CREA Standards for publication (included in its Knowledge Management Committee) is copied from international standards and specifically from the European property rights legislation: http://ec.europa.eu/research/fp6/model-contract/pdf/fp6-iprguidelines_en.pdf
Indeed, one of the objectives of this regulation is to ensure that nobody publishes the work of others. Among the research groups that do not have these regulations there are many in which these things happen and others in which they don’t, everything depends on the good or bad will of the one in charge. In those research groups that have these regulations, such as CREA, such practices are not possible.
B) Anyone can check at the cv posted on the government agencies official websites that in CREA the impact inequality among its members is much lower than in other research groups. We know that those who, for shameful interests, want to disseminate calumnies do not want to see by themselves that those are lies, but this is not something that someone who really wants a better world would do.
A) Anyone can check at the government agencies websites that publishing with people outside of the group is much more frequent in CREA than in other research groups.
B) We just have expelled a person from CREA, and another one from one consolidated research group due to publication malpractice. In both cases, this was due to the fact of submitting an article to a scientific journal in which the sample has been falsified, a very serious malpractice according to the international scientific community.
C) Other than that, we came to an amicable agreement with another person from CREA who was not accustomed to international standards for publication, who wanted to publish with another person the work which had been done by others, and which have not the permission of the subjects investigated (students, families and teachers of a school in the Basque Country).
In CREA nobody is forced to write research articles, only those who want to write them actually do it. When the articles are the result of an individual work, each person decides what to do with it. When the articles are the result of a research project, the authors are those who have contributed to its development, as well as those who want to write them and sign them. According to international standards for publication adopted by CREA on who created the content, a consensus must be reached among all those who have participated in the research. This process prevents someone publishing the work of other people and also guarantees that all CREA researchers are authors of scientific publications. We have a more egalitarian distribution of publications among members than any other group. Not only the most senior researcher publishes, but all people involved in the research and in the knowledge creation or scientific discoveries. Even several times the director of CREA has not signed any article in a whole Special Issue.
CREA is a center of excellence (scientific and ethical) which greatly supports the training of those researchers who take part of it. Many of the hundreds of people who have spent time at CREA and then have engaged in different professions (including working in the academia), highly appreciate their training time with us, and highly value us. In some cases, after leaving CREA, people decide to work with other research groups that do not have the same excellence, and consequently cannot or do not want to enhance their academic careers. They submit an article to an international scientific journal, and they see that it is accepted for publication, while there are younger people who have entered CREA later, and are being able to publish. In our universities, which are less and less feudal and more meritocratic, these publications have a growing influence on the professional situation of people. In a few cases, the lack of scientific advancement is attributed to a boycott by CREA or to favoritism towards “our people”, and so people blame us for everything that happens in their professional and personal lives.
Quite the contrary. Along with many other people and groups we have fought and are fighting against this, not only because this arbitrary feudal system lowers the scientific quality of our universities, but also because it makes it very difficult to combat gender violence. What happens is that the corridors of some of our faculties easily turn lies into ‘truths’. We will provide you with an exemple, that has already been published, and that made its way through the hallways: Miguel had been ten years working as a adjunt lecturer, when a position is convened for him. Lidia applied and as Ramon Flecha was part of the committee she gets the position and Miguel has to leave university. All this is a lie. In reality several years ago a fulltime position had been convened “for Miguel”, and Josep, then a secondary education professor applied for it and got it. If Josep thought that applying to the position “of someone” stands for stealing it from that person and kicking him out of university, then he should be crititcal with himself because he did so, not Lidia. And if he thought that everybody had the right to apply for a position that has a public competition, why would he criticize Lidia for it? Years later a second stable position was published “for Miguel”, precisely a position in the same category as the one that Miguel had, but more stable.
Also Pedro applied for this position and won. While for a second time a stable position had been made public “for Miguel”, another precarious position was opened “for Lidia”. When Miguel lost “his” position, he applied for “Lidia’s”, but she had more scientific merits. Ramon was not in the committee, as anybody could and can easily verify. In any case Lidia did not mind that Miguel applied for “her position”, as there are no positions for somebody, but are positions open to public competition.
And still, against all the easily verifiable evidence, in the hallways people continued stating that a committee including Ramon had dismissed Miguel from university to be substituted by Lidia. The power to revert the lie into truth is such that one day Josep showed great concern about the situation of Miguel and was very angry because Lidia “had taken his position”. Ramon reminded him of the two previous “positions that had been published for Miguel”, but were won by himself and by Pedro.
Josep thought about it, remembered and acknowledged it in that moment. It seems incredible but lies have such influence in the hallways of some universities that even he himself had believed it.
Since 2007, the leader of CREA is a woman… and is Doctor from Harvard. As feminists know well, this is something that many sexists cannot believe neither tolerate, that see women unable to leader a research centre of excellence such as CREA. Being Doctor from Harvard is something that also angers them to the most because is an indicator of such intellectual and human level that they cannot bear even talk about it; and for sure envies play a role too. But there is something else that some people anger and then deny: that all the objective indicators show that the leadership of CREA is more distributed and more egalitarian than in the research groups they like the most.