June 22, 2018

M.I.T. clears Junot Díaz of misconduct amid objections


M.I.T. has joined the Boston Review in clearing Junot Díaz of allegations of sexual misconduct, Alexandra Alter reports for the New York Times. Both institutions will keep the author on their staff—as a faculty member at M.I.T. and as fiction editor at the Review—and have released statements saying that after extensive investigations they didn’t see any reason to cut ties.

“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,” Boston Review editors Deborah Chasman and Joshua Cohen wrote. “To be clear: we do not condone the objectionable behavior they describe. Instead, we asked ourselves whether the conduct they report is of a kind that—given his [important public] role and our mission—requires us to end the editorial relationship. We do not think so.”

The Boston Review’s three poetry editors—Timothy Donnelly, B.K. Fischer, and Stefania Heim—have all resigned in protest:

“It was painful to leave but we couldn’t stay where we felt deprived of a vote and a voice, especially on such an important issue,” they told the New York Times.

The board of directors at VIDA also objected to the Review’s decision and collected hundreds of signatures in a letter of dissent. They said the statement “reads like a template for rationalizing inaction, laying out point by point the logic our culture uses in its continued failure to prioritize the safety of women and non-binary people.” (Yes.) They went on:

Also troubling is the idea put forth in Boston Review’s statement that there is a baseline of bad acts that must be reached in order for the editors to respond, and that Díaz hasn’t reached it. At what point is abusive behavior bad enough to merit corrective action? At what point is repeated coercive and abusive behavior over the course of a decade considered a pattern?



Taylor Sperry is a former Melville House editor.