A Brief, Open Note to the National Academy of Sciences

Dear NAS Members,

Over the last few weeks scientist, activist, and all-around-concerned citizen @McLNeuro has put together a fantastic campaign to voice to concerns of so many of us – there is no mechanism to remove a member from the academy for outright malfeasance, including sexual harassment and misconduct.  In fact, there are well-known harassers in the membership. This is important. Very important.

So, how does an organization define a harasser? How do you find them? That question yielded these tweets, including a response from your president:

Not guilty until proven innocent, Marcia. Guilty when proven guilty, and required to disclose. McLNeuro suggests requiring a letter from a university confirming that the applicant has not been found guilty of a Title IX violation. My solution is much simpler. When we apply for employment in the United States, most of us check whether we have ever been convicted of a felony and many of us are subjected to criminal background checks. That’s the status quo. A similar system could be used here. Require an applicant to check whether they have ever been convicted of a Title IX violation (yes or no) and follow up with the university to confirm.

It’s not un-American to require your membership to meet certain behavioral standards. In fact, my own institution recently renamed an institute after its primary donor was accused of gross sexual misconduct.

It’s perfectly acceptable to take the stance that science is important, but not as important as the people who *do* the science.

Give it a try…

Best,

M

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