Note: The allegations referenced in this statement do not involve a member of the BOOST community.
On February 17, 2021, the administrative team of the BOOST Program at Duke University became aware that an individual who was invited to share their work with our community during a BOOST-hosted event is now involved in allegations of sexual misconduct.
Jason Ward, a celebrity birder, a prominent member of the Science Communication community, and now a former employee of the New Hope Audubon Society, delivered a virtual presentation to BOOST Scholars, Coaches, Junior Coaches, JCiTs, and staff during our November 14th Science Saturday. The presentation was engaging, inspiring, and uplifting, and our community was thrilled to learn about Jason’s work and story. As always, BOOST staff were present to manage and monitor the event. The presentation went on without any issues or concerns. While we were excited to welcome Mr. Ward into the BOOST community, and have praised his accomplishments on social media since, the painfully disappointing news of these recent allegations has prompted our team to pause, acknowledge the deep hurt that has been caused, and take necessary steps to reiterate our values and continue to protect our BOOST community.
BOOST provides opportunities for historically underrepresented students in STEM through a supportive learning environment that helps them build skills to create a more just and equitable world. Core to this mission is the establishment and protection of safe spaces for our young people so they can develop the confidence and curiosity necessary to pursue their dreams. The allegations against Mr. Ward call into question the alignment of his conduct with the values of respect, reciprocity, and sovereignty that are core to the BOOST program and community.
In response to these allegations, we first and foremost stand with those who are hurting, beginning their healing journey, and speaking up. We are discontinuing our support and celebration of Jason Ward on all social media platforms. The recordings of Mr. Ward’s presentation will not be published on BOOST’s website or social media. Prior to the November 2020 Science Saturday, BOOST had no formal affiliation with Jason Ward, and that remains true now. BOOST will continue to apply a critical lens to the assessment of potential speakers, with the safety and security of our young people at the forefront of those vetting processes.
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