ASU honors college clams up over sexual misconduct allegations

­Allegations of a Barrett, the Honors College professor’s inappropriate relationship with a student have caused a tidal wave of rumors, as the public yearns for the college’s administration to speak up.

A professor in Barrett will not have his employment renewed after an investigation into an alleged relationship with an undergraduate student. Various Barrett faculty are teaching his classes for the remainder of the semester.

However, one campus group feels that this isn’t the first instance of inappropriate advances from a Barrett professor to his or her students. In response, a student group, Sun Devils Against Sexual Assault, published a petition calling on the honors college to “protect students from sexual violence and terminate faculty who sexually harass and abuse students.”

 

 

“For the past 15 years ASU’s Barrett Honors College has been home to professors who sexually harass and sexually abuse students,” the petition says.

As a Barrett freshman, learning about these accusations through the grapevine of upperclassmen and faculty is not only disturbing, but also extremely frightening. After six weeks of Human Event, my professor was replaced and our class given a simple explanation that he was not to return for the rest of the semester.

When he first left, we joked that he may have slept with a student. But these jokes became less lighthearted fun and more of a dark truth. These allegations coming to light bring up worries and concerns not only in Human Event classes, but any courses offered in the Barrett college.

The motives behind the possible relationship are unknown and constantly speculated, but many think an exchange for grades was involved. This behavior would be teaching students the way to get success is through using their bodies, not their minds.

“A professor can’t sleep with his students for much the same reason bosses can’t sexually harass their secretaries without potentially running into real legal trouble: Some of the victims started to speak up,” Daniel Luzer in Pacific Standard Magazine said.

Unfortunately, the professor’s controversial dismissal seems to have been left largely untouched by Barrett administration. Rumors buzzing and parental concerns rising, the spotlight is shining brightly on the college’s lack of acknowledgement.

Many also see firing the professor as a cop-out, simply sweeping the problem under the rug of Barrett embarrassments. By cutting out the professor, it seems the college hoped to avoid confronting the situation all together.

“Professors should not receive ‘slaps on the wrist’ for this behavior, as they have in the past; these professors should be terminated so they can’t abuse more students,” the petition said.

The Barrett administration needs to own up to the fact that these allegations are overwhelming and a poor representation of Barrett culture. Regardless if the accusations are true or not, the school must be accountable for the actions and behaviors of its faculty.

Students, parents and alumni are entitled to be informed of the outcome of the situation and should not have to learn of such concerns secondhand through student blogs or word of mouth. Leading an administration on a trail of secrets leaves the public ill at ease.

Reach the columnist at rsmouse@asu.edu or follow her on Twitter @BeccaSmouse

Editor’s note: The opinions presented in this column are the author’s and do not imply any endorsement from The State Press or its editors.

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