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DePaul University: Alert students of sexual harassment, misconduct, and violence

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In April of 2016, the typical DePaul student was getting ready for midterms, maintaining a social life, and generally keeping busy. However, this was not the case for one DePaul student. In June of 2017, the Chicago Sun-Times reported that a former DePaul student is suing the school and a DePaul professor claiming that the professor used his position to coerce her into having sex with him. The female student is seeking $200,000 in damages.

On April 15, 2016, the professor and the student met for dinner where he, “plied her with alcohol in an attempt to get her intoxicated” according to the suit. The student agreed to dinner with the professor because she felt obliged to comply with the request of her professor of the class she was enrolled in. After dinner, the professor proceeded to kiss her, in which she said no, and he took her to his home to show her his house. After she came out of the bathroom, she found him naked; he aggressively pursued her and they had sex.

On a second occasion, the instructor asked the woman to his office on campus, the suit said. The woman said she refused to have sex with him in his office. He then told her to “get on the floor and play with herself.” The woman said she did, and again felt compelled to do so because of his position.

The student is now suffering from depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.

The suit also said that the specific professor has been the subject of “many complaints for sexual harassment, unwanted touching of students of the University and obnoxious behavior.” According to the Sun-Times, the suit claims that the University “should have known (the instructor) had made sexual advances and inappropriately touched other female students” and that the University is perpetuating gender-based violence by allowing the professor to be alone with the woman.

DePaul University has yet to issue an official comment in regards to this suit. There has been no formal response to the situation informing students, faculty, and staff of this crime. The environment that DePaul wants for the community if one of safety and free of discrimination. We respect the rights and anonymity of any individual reporting sexual violence, misconduct, or harassment but the community should be made aware of occurrences for their safety. The lack of information and the unknown amount of such on-campus cases is concerning. Students and their parents were made aware of this situation through reports by news outlets rather than university officials who should have been thinking of our concerns first. DePaul should reconsider how they balance the needs of the ongoing case with its obligation to protect the well-being of all members of the community.

The University should be held responsible for not sending out crime alerts and safety announcements to inform us of all incidents that occur and how they are being handled. The Office of Public Safety states that DPU alerts are sent on a need-to-know basis. But we deserve to have knowledge of any alleged incidents of sexual misconduct, harassment, and violence as those are threats to the community.

Universities such as Loyola and Northwestern, even go further and at least report incidents of sexual assault and harassment on the campus safety and university police web pages of their websites. DePaul does not.

We are calling on DePaul to address this incident and become transparent about all others, through DPU alerts and formal responses. The lack of information harms the overall safety of every single person who attends, works, or spends time at DePaul.

 



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