After Investigating Sexual Abuse Allegations Against Junot Díaz, MIT Says He Can Still Teach

Junot Díaz has been accused by several writers of sexual misconduct or verbal abuse. Here is a fie photo of him in 2013. (Bebeto Matthews/AP)
Junot Díaz has been accused by several writers of sexual misconduct or verbal abuse. Here is a fie photo of him in 2013. (Bebeto Matthews/AP)

After conducting an investigation into Junot Díaz and his actions toward female members of the MIT community, the university has cleared the author to return to his teaching post in the fall.

In May, writer Zinzi Clemmons accused the acclaimed author of forcibly kissing her when she was a 26-year-old graduate student at another university. Soon after, other female writers also came forward publicly to accuse Díaz of verbal abuse. The allegations spurred MIT to launch an investigation, which sought to "discover whether members of our campus community had similar concerns."

On Monday night, MIT announced it had finished its investigation into Díaz's conduct in his position as a professor of writing. "To date, MIT has not found or received information that would lead us to take any action to restrict Professor Díaz in his role as an MIT faculty member, and we expect him to teach next academic year, as scheduled," the university said in a statement to WBUR.

After the initial allegations came out in May, Díaz said he "took responsibility" for his past in a statement provided through his agent to The New York Times.

"I am listening to and learning from women’s stories in this essential and overdue cultural movement," it read. "We must continue to teach all men about consent and boundaries."

The allegations have brought strong reactions from the literary community.

The Boston Review, a political and literary magazine where Díaz has been a fiction editor since 2003, also concluded earlier this month that it would continue their relationship with the author.

In a public statement about their decision, the Boston Review editors said, "During his 15-year tenure as fiction editor, we have never received any complaints about Junot's conduct, either from our staff or from writers."

The statement, attributed to the Cambridge-based magazine's editors Deborah Chasman and Joshua Cohen, said, "We do not think that any of the individual actions that have been reported are of the kind that requires us to end the editorial relationship. ... The objectionable conduct described in the public reports does not have the kind of severity that animated the #MeToo movement."

In response, three of the magazine's poetry editors — Timothy Donnelly, Barbara Fischer and Stefania Heim — said they were "dismayed" and would be stepping down on July 1.

The Pulitzer Prize board is currently conducting an independent review of the allegations against Díaz, The New York Times reported last month. The Pulitzer Prize-winning author stepped down as chairman but remains part of the organization.

This article was originally published on June 18, 2018.


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Amy Gorel Senior Editor
Amy Gorel is a senior editor of digital news at WBUR.



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