A public dispute between two UC Irvine professors played out on Twitter Monday, prompting university officials to announce that one of the professors was given a police escort.
Professor Kathleen Treseder, the chair of the school of ecology and evolutionary biology, claimed on Twitter that she has been harassed by professor Rich Symanski, who denied the allegations in an email to City News Service.
Treseder tweeted that Symanski sent her a copy of his memoir and noted portions of the book in which he wrote an unpublished novel, “The Peanut Shell Murders,” in the 1980s about a mass killing of academics. Treseder complained that university officials were not protecting her.
“Chancellor (Howard) Gillman… how is this not retaliation?” she tweeted on Sunday. “Sexual harassment? Why is UCI protecting him and his preferences by over my safety? Why do you value this guy over me?”
Treseder was one of four women who alleged sexual harassment against UC Irvine geneticist Francisco J. Ayala, who resigned in June after a university investigation found he had harassed four educators and graduate students.
In an email to City News Service, Symanski said he was unaware of the tweets.
Symanski acknowledged that he sent a copy of his academic memoir, “Richard Symanski, Bad Boy Geographer, a Memoir,” “in which I devote more than 10,000 words to a bogus sexual harassment charge against me in 1995, one in which I was charged because a student I took on for an undergraduate project charged me with sexual harassment because a senior professor in biology at the time told the student that if she did not like the grade she received she should charge a professor with sexual harassment, which she did to me.”
Symanski, who said he was in the Philippines, added he gave the book to Treseder “to show her that there is another side to these charges where men get falsely accused.”
The UCI School of Biological Sciences issued a statement Monday saying officials at the school “appreciate and share your concern for professor Treseder.”
Officials at the school “intervened immediately as soon as we became aware of professor Treseder’s concerns. We have been working closely with all involved parties to reach a resolution for several weeks.”
UCI officials are “limited” in “our ability to share details… because of the sensitive, personnel-related nature of this situation.”
But the school said it “arranged for a police escort this morning and contracted our private security services beyond today.”
Symanski will not teach at UCI in the winter quarter, which starts Jan. 7, the university announced.
“The university is committed to providing an environment in which ideas and knowledge can thrive without fear of harassment, mistreatment or retaliation. The safety and well-being of our students, faculty and staff are our utmost priority,” the university announced.