We are among the current and former undergraduate students who have had positive experiences with Professor Florian Jaeger. In this open letter, we wanted to express our own experiences and emotions about the issues on our campus.
We must emphasize that we are in no way attempting to discredit the accusations of the complainants. The accusations undoubtedly bring attention to issues that should be pursued to their fullest right. To contribute to the current discussion, we would like to convey our own views and perspectives.
As students who have worked closely with Professor Jaeger, we have experienced a mixture of emotions about this unsettling situation. Even within those of us signing this letter, we do not all share the same feelings about the current circumstances. It was extremely difficult to formulate our own views on this, given our personal connection and backgrounds. Regardless, we felt that we should share our own positive experiences working as advisees and researchers under Professor Jaeger.
We all attest to the fact that we have not experienced any situation in which we perceived Professor Jaeger’s actions as sexual harassment. To be clear, we are not making any claims about his previous actions in regards to the allegations. But for us, Professor Jaeger and his Human Language Processing lab have been a welcoming community. They provided us with a warm and supportive environment to conduct fulfilling — albeit sometimes frustrating — research.
Many of us had little to no experience in research and were able to work on our own projects and travel to conferences — all under the mentorship of Professor Jaeger. He provided us with much needed kind but stern advising in order to facilitate our growth as scientists. His kindness was not solely in his words but his actions; he helped us obtain internships and other research opportunities, wrote numerous recommendation letters, went out of his way to connect us with other faculty (not just from our own university), and specifically support our growth as female scientists. His mentorship helped us grow into the people we are today. And our experiences in this lab have created fond memories that will last beyond our time at the University.
We have no intention to in any way diminish or call into question the experiences of anyone who came forward with their difficult stories. Nonetheless, we wanted to share our experiences with you in order to contribute toward a broader dialogue that is all-encompassing. With this letter, we hope to contribute to an open and honest discussion about how to move forward in a positive direction as a campus and as a community.
Thank you for considering our perspective.
Editor’s Note: Three anonymous signatories were listed when this article was submitted.