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Former Student Alleges Cultural Anthropology Professors Ran Program Like a Cult

Former Student Alleges Cultural Anthropology Professors Ran Program Like a Cult

“the indoctrination began on day one”

Be Scofield describes herself as a queer/trans writer & digital strategist. In 2007, she attended the California Institute of Integral Studies where she alleges that two professors ran the Cultural Anthropology grad program like a cult.

She writes at Medium:

How a Cult Infiltrated the California Institute of Integral Studies

Ten years ago, in April of 2007, I walked out of the Cultural Anthropology graduate program at the California Institute of Integral Studies (CIIS). To this day, I’ve never stepped foot back in the building. I’m not sure I ever will again.

I was one of four students who left, mid-semester, and blew the whistle on a personality cult surrounding professor Angana Chatterji and her husband professor Richard Shapiro. We reported in great detail serious psychological abuse, manipulation, exploitation and dysfunction. We warned them that a cult was in their midst.

The school hired an ombudsperson who did a minor investigation at the time, but nothing came of it. CIIS, a major center in the history of the human potential movement, mostly ignored our heartfelt warnings. They offered to refund our spring semester tuition if we agreed not to sue them. The four of us signed the document. The refund was a small token considering what had transpired…

Apparently being part of a social change movement meant accepting a cult-like environment because the indoctrination began on day one. Professor Angana Chatterji stormed into class and started screaming and yelling at us. She screamed at students for anything from showing up thirty seconds late to class to asking questions and shutting off a cell phone before class. It was just a tactic; the reason didn’t matter. It effectively shocked us into subservience and fear…

From the beginning, we were taught that the Cultural Anthropology program was part of “the revolution” and that we were now part of it.


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