sexual harassment

79 petitions

Started 1 week ago

Petition to Cornell University, Ray Jayawardhana

Help Dr. Vengallatore Get His Physics Laboratory Back

Imagine spending 7 years doing your best work, publishing papers in high-profile journals, training graduate students, and building a laboratory with millions of dollars of federal funding, for it to all be taken away when a student accuses you of rape, because she doesn't want to you receive tenure, and you're told that the "Twitter world would explode" if action was taken against a blonde female student for lying. This is the story of Dr. Mukund Vengalattore, who was denied tenure after his former student, Lauren Aycock, now Dr. Lauren Aycock, filed numerous accusations against him with the goal of denying him tenure. Not only did she succeed, Dr. Vengallatore was terminated from his teaching position and locked out of his own laboratory by Cornell staff and the former dean, Gretchen Ritter, a radical feminist. It all started in 2008, when Dr. Vengalattore, an MIT-trained atomic physicist was hired by Cornell to become an assistant professor of physics on a tenure-track. His contract was three years, and he was tasked with training graduate students and continuing with his research. His first graduate student joined him in the Spring of 2009. Her name was Dr. Lauren Aycock, and after her first year, she said she "made the best decision" by choosing Dr. Vengalattore as her mentor in her first year. She was tasked with constructing an experiment, but in the Fall of 2009, she was struggling, which she relayed to her professor. Early next year, she considered leaving the project, so Dr. Vengalattore brought on another student, Srivatsan Chakram Sundar, as a graduate teaching assistant. The experiment moved faster, and Lauren grew jealous. This process repeated once more with a second experiment, where Chakram's addition to the project helped it move forward. This time around, Lauren decided to quit. In November of 2012, Lauren formally withdrew from Dr. Vengalattore's project and continued her studies in Maryland. Unbeknownst to Dr. Vengalattore, she emailed a different physics professor, Lawrence Gibbons, that Dr. Vengalattore had attacked her in the lab by throwing a power supply at her. This accusation did not hold true, as the power supplies weigh over 100lbs and cannot be thrown at someone easily. Lauren seemed frustrated, and Dr. Vengalattore promised to name her as the first author in a coming publication on the experiment she contributed to originally. In 2014, Dr. Vengalattore's second contract as an assistant professor was set to expire, and he was due for a tenure review, which would have granted him tenure if the outcome was positive. Lauren held a grudge towards her professor for a variety of unknown reasons, and confided with a different student, who is now a professor, that she would do what it takes to deny him tenure. At this point, Dr. Vengalattore had been awarded $4 million of funding for his research and published six academic papers, while building three lab experiments, two of which had produced results. He was headed to become a tenured professor of physics at Cornell University. Knowing this, Lauren approached two professors on the tenure review committee, Lawrence Gibbons and Richie Patterson, who are married to each other, to discuss a "situation." Here, she repeated her claim that Dr. Vengalattore had previously thrown a power supply at her. "Prof. Vengalattore became so impatient with my position that he picked up the power supply in dispute—a metal box weighing five pounds—and threw it at me" she alleged in a letter to the tenure review committee. This was a conflict of interest and thus, should not have ever been considered by the committee. Nevertheless, her letter was taken into consideration, but it was decided that the tenure review should move forward regardless of the accusation, true or not. Dr. Vengalattore revealed that Lauren had submitted this accusation to a different professor, professor Keith Schwab, but claimed that a piece of equipment had "slid in her general direction" once during a discussion where there was a disagreement. After numerous letters of support and statements of denial from Dr. Vengalattore, he was set to receive tenure, until Lauren Aycock went a step further. In 2014, it was time to publish the paper about the experiment Lauren originally worked on. Dr. Vengalattore initially agreed to include her as first author, back in 2012, but since then, the experiment changed and it was not ethical to list her as first author.  Lauren was upset, and asked to be removed from the paper, but after some persuasion agreed to be included. She was listed as "L. Aycock," with her middle initial, "M.," not included. Lauren's first claim of sexual misconduct began here. She alleged that because he left out her middle initial, her name was sexually suggestive. Dr. Vengalattore thought the issue was trivial, as she had listed her name in this fashion on research posters and other publications and assignments previously, but promptly changed the spelling. Her previous two accusations failed to convince the tenure review committee that Dr. Vengalattore should not receive tenure, so she came up with two new stories: she was raped by him, and they had a secret consensual romantic relationship. Dr. Vengalattore was informed of the allegation of the relationship, and in a metting with title ix investigators, he was questioned about rape. How does this story hold up when he is accused of both a consensual relationsihp and rape? That's what Dr. Vengalattore wondered. Lauren claimed that one day, Dr. Vengallatore wasn't in the laboratory all day, so she visited his house, unannounced, and they had sex, which she claimed was rape. Laboratory logs indicated that this story was impossible, as Dr. Vengallatore was in the lab each day during the time specified. Her story continued to be fabricated, until she and other professors whom she communicated with while attempting to thwart his tenure, settled on the notion that the two were involved in a 'secret romantic relationship.' Years of emails and text messages were scoured and absolutely nothing was found. With no evidence, it was decided that Dr. Vengalattore was lying and he violated the Cornell Romance Policy, and therefore should not receive tenure. Amazed, Dr. Vengallatore sued, and was granted a new tenure review. The dean created a sham tenure review and soon after terminated him from his position in June of 2018. Dr. Vengalattore is currently fighting to save his laboratory and find a new position elsewhere. Cornell University administrators emailed ten other universities to prevent him from finding work elsewhere, treating him as a kind of sex offender, while having denied him due process. His laboratory, which involves millions of dollars of federally funded equipment, is not being maintained, and he is concerned the equipment will be completely ruined. Meanwhile, Dr. Lauren Aycock has enjoyed two back-to-back fellowships. Her motivations for lying about rape, sexual misconduct and a secret romantic relationship are unclear, but what is evident, is that #MeToo has the power to destroy the careers of innocent men, and this needs to stop. Sign this petition to raise awareness on cases of false accusations of sexual misconduct, rape, and 'secret romantic relationships.' Without your help, innocent men will continue to get accused. This has to stop. NOW.      

Avishek Saha
207 supporters
Started 2 weeks ago

Petition to Mayor Bill de Blasio, Department of Education, New York City Public Schools, Félix Ortiz

Street Harassment Ends Now

Street harassment has been an issue that affects millions of people everywhere for many years, and only recently has it been given legal and social attention to in our society. It is indeed sexual harassment, and it can happen in any public space, including the streets, public transportation, malls, theaters, stores, restaurants, etc. More women experience harassment than men because of the power complex that male harassers hold over women, causing women to feel unsafe in the city, become anxious, change their habits, routes, or choices in clothing, and can even lead to them moving entirely. However, many are not aware that it is illegal here in New York City, nor are they aware of the fine that can climb to approximately $250,000. As a result, women do not report their harassers, and harassers feel as though they can safely get away with it. Unfortunately, a common misconception on street harassment is that certain forms of street harassment (catcalling, whistling, etc) are compliments. However, a woman’s body is not entertainment, nor is it public space for unwanted comments of any kind. To help solve and increase awareness on the issue of street harassment in New York City, I recommend that the city of New York implements anti-harassment counseling alongside the fine for harassers. This will ensure that harassers are made aware of their wrongdoings and prevent further harassment from offenders. I have written to Mayor Bill de Blasio about this proposed policy change. I also recommend instating mandatory lessons in New York City health classes on the dangers and illegality of street harassment. This will enable many youths to become aware of the serious issue street harassment is and the many lives it affects. Educating young people on this issue will prevent future harassment and allow people to feel safe in reporting it. I have contacted the New York City Department of Education on this implementation, referring to a recent law passed in Washington, D.C., the Street Harassment Prevention Act of 2018 (SHPA). With your help and support, we can make New York City a safer and more comfortable place for many people. For more information, check out my website at 

Cassandra Correa
24 supporters