UT classics professor publishes her experience with harassment in series of articles

Sheryl‌ ‌Lawrence‌, News Reporter

Content Warning: This story contains discussion of pedophilia and harassment. 

UT associate professor Jennifer Ebbeler started posting articles on Medium last week detailing her experience at the UT classics department, including almost 14 years of harassment, she said.

“I think the purpose is not to get revenge on people,” Ebbeler said. “It’s about finally feeling like it was time for me to own my own story instead of letting everybody else construct their version of events based on the bits and pieces they knew or didn’t know.”

After Ebbeler submitted an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission complaint in 2016, the lawsuit ended in a settlement in January, forcing UT to move Ebbeler to a different department. The University did not move Ebbeler to the Religious Studies department and she remains in the Classics department, so the lawsuit will go to trial. 

“I really hoped both to avoid the legal process altogether and resolve this internally, but also to be able to resolve it prior to trial, and I gave them every reason to do that,” Ebbeler said. “They failed to (move my position), not because they were malevolent, but simply didn’t know what to do.”

Throughout her tenure process at the University, Ebbeler said Classics professors Thomas Hubbard and Karl Galinsky wrote minority reports, letters written to a tenure committee about their opinion on her research, reputation and credibility and advocated against her promotion to professor.

Hubbard has been accused of advocating for pedophilia, and students have called for his removal from the University. He has also filed multiple lawsuits against students. 

“At the time I was told (this) was unprecedented (and) nobody knew what to do with these minority reports,” Ebbeler said. “For some reason, the decision was made to let them go forward while assuring me that they would not impact the outcome, which was true. The vote was not impacted, but they did impact things like my reputation at UT.”

Ebbeler said she skimmed the reports but was not allowed to take them or copy them. However, Ebbeler said she knew that she worked hard for the position at UT. 

“I never felt that I wasn’t good enough, or that I deserved the criticisms that were coming to me,” Ebbeler said. “It has been extremely difficult, particularly I would say in the last six years, to deal with these sort of unrelenting attacks (on) me, and it has absolutely made it harder for me to feel that confidence that I had as an assistant professor.”

When UT offered her a position at the Classics department in 2002, Ebbeler said she considered declining given the department’s reputation. She said after her experiences at the University, she regrets accepting the job.

“If you know the history of the UT Classics department and its reputation for many decades now, it has long been known as a difficult and dysfunctional department, and one that’s particularly damaging for women,” Ebbeler said. 

Ebbeler said the articles she has published right now are mainly background information for the lawsuit filed that is going to trial in the fall or winter. 

University spokesperson JB Bird declined to comment citing that the University generally does not comment on personnel matters.