A member of the advisory board for Georgetown University’s Master of Science in Foreign Service program resigned Monday after posting a tweet on Saturday evening that appeared to condone sexual harassment of a female conservative commentator.
Jeff Bernstein (GRD ’85), formerly a managing director at Pennsylvania-based advisory firm Solebury Capital, left his role at Georgetown after telling Allie Stuckey, a conservative commentator, that he hopes she has a “#metoo moment” after she tweeted her views on sexual harassment and assault.
The hashtag #MeToo is used to identify as a survivor of sexual harassment and assault. It has been popularized in recent months as a statement of solidarity with sexual assault survivors, following a deluge of sexual misconduct allegations leveled against prominent men in politics, media and business, including movie producer Harvey Weinstein and NBC News anchor Matt Lauer.
Referencing the #MeToo phenomenon Saturday, Stuckey tweeted that the problem was not a symptom of a broken legal system, but “a symptom of a broken world.”
False. The #metoo moment is a symptom of a broken world. https://t.co/xEtJVasdsN
— Allie Beth Stuckey (@conservmillen) January 13, 2018
Bernstein replied Saturday evening in a tweet reading: “Wishing you a #metoo moment. Maybe then you won’t be so insensitive.”
Bernstein later wrote that he had misinterpreted Stuckey’s tweet, believing she was criticizing the popular groundswell against sexual assault rather than sexual assault itself.
Stuckey, 25, said she was initially confused by Bernstein’s response — she did not consider her original tweet insensitive, or even controversial. When she realized what Bernstein appeared to mean, she became upset.
“I thought, ‘Did this grown man actually just hope that I get sexually harassed or assaulted?’” Stuckey wrote in an email to The Hoya. “I considered all of the horrific stories I’ve read of sexual abuse and rape over the past few months and thought, ‘He wants me to go through that because he disagrees with me?’”
Stuckey responded later that evening by questioning Bernstein’s role at Georgetown:
Hi @Georgetown — someone on your MSFS board just told me he hopes I get sexually harassed or assaulted. Is this the kind of standard your university holds for your advisors? pic.twitter.com/O2CLUkYvcR
— Allie Beth Stuckey (@conservmillen) January 14, 2018
Stuckey acknowledged she had criticized “certain tactics” of the #MeToo movement in the past, but said she takes sexual assault and its victims “very seriously.”
“And though I’m no stranger to disagreeable, sexist Internet trolls, to me, this was too far,” Stuckey wrote.
Georgetown agreed. School of Foreign Service Dean Joel Hellman announced that the university accepted Bernstein’s resignation in a news release Monday.
“Encouraging, threatening or condoning violence and harassment against another person, in any form and on any format, is deeply inconsistent with the values of the program, our school and our university,” the statement reads. “The Masters of Science in Foreign Service (MSFS) program at Georgetown University is deeply committed to fostering the role of women in international affairs and promoting respectful dialogue and debate on the critical issues facing our world.”
Hellman added that the university appreciated Bernstein’s “efforts to apologize.”
Bernstein was a member of the MSFS advisory board, which is designed to advise the MSFS program on matters relating to curriculum, career development, alumni relations and fundraising, according to the MSFS website. First convened in 2011, the board is now composed of 36 alumni and professors and meets annually at Georgetown.
Bernstein was also fired from his job at Solebury Capital as a result of his conduct. Solebury learned of Bernstein’s conduct Sunday evening and “immediately investigated the matter,” according to Lisa Wolford, a spokeswoman for Solebury.
“Based on that review, we promptly terminated his employment with Solebury,” Wolford wrote in an email to The Hoya.
Bernstein deleted his tweet a few hours after it was published. In a subsequent series of tweets, Bernstein repeatedly apologized to Stuckey and denied that his comments were intended to condone harassment. He said that he “would never wish harm on anyone” and only meant to say Stuckey — whom he accused of making disparaging statements about women, immigrants, people of color and others — “needed a moment of truth.”
Bernstein later wrote in a Twitter direct message to The Hoya that he had “apologized profusely” to Stuckey and feels “terribly” about the incident. He also said he has “incredible love for MSFS and Georgetown.”
Stuckey noted that Bernstein later sent her what she considers a sincere apology, “albeit after many insincere apologies and after having his name dragged through the mud.”
“I do forgive him. I really do,” Stuckey wrote.
Bernstein had deleted his Twitter account by Monday morning and could not be reached for additional comments about his resignation from the MSFS advisory board or termination from Solebury.
Stuckey said she appreciated the university’s “adherence to their proclaimed values.”
“Sexual harassment and assault — and online bullying — are not to be taken lightly,” Stuckey wrote.
Timothy P O'Neill says
When I read about this story yesterday I was wondering how GU would handle the matter in the media. I was pleasantly greeted with the Hoya lead article this morning documenting the entire exchange.
Thank you. I am proud to have my daughter attend a university that’s not afraid to do the right thing and stand up for women.