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Student frustration grows after sexual harassment allegations at UR

Sep 13, 2017

Credit Caitlin Whyte / WXXI News

The lawn outside the Rush Rhees library on the University of Rochester campus was filled with allies, staff and frustrated students Wednesday afternoon, unhappy with the administration’s handling of sexual harassment allegations.

The protest was in response to the university's reaction to an EEOC complaint filed about Florian Jaeger, a tenured professor in the Brain and Cognitive Science Department at UR. Eight current and former students and staff detailed claims of sexual harassment in the over 100-page document, but the university cleared Jaeger of any wrongdoing.

Students like Lindsey Wrobel said systematically things need to change.

"We must demand better from our university administrators. But we must also demand better from the system on a whole. We cannot stop at demanding the removal of Florian Jaeger or Morgan Levy, we must advocate for change in policy and change in procedure." Levy, as Title IX coordinator, is responsible for overseeing investigations concerning sexual misconduct. She told the Democrat&Chronicle that "I care deeply about students who have been impacted by sexual assault." 

Natalie Ziegler is a UR Senior who attended the protest, saying she wanted to show support instead of just read reports and be angry.

"Because I know I want to go into academia I've been thinking a lot about, is this what I have to look forward to? Being exploited by senior male colleagues?"

Laura Cowie-Haskell said she is tired of the lack of compassion from the university. 

Credit Caitlin Whyte / WXXI News

"I don’t understand what it takes anymore to have our voices heard and have something be done about it."

Cowie-Haskell lived on the same hall as Celeste Kidd, one of the women who filed the EEOC complaint against Jaeger.

The University of Rochester says it is establishing a committee to review their policies and procedures regarding sexual misconduct, as well as appointing an independent investigator in regard to any claims of retaliation

But a number of students announced they willing to take drastic measures until more is done to protect students.

One graduate announced a plan for alumni to withhold payments, and Wrobel said she will be hunger striking until Jaeger is removed or resigned, or a plan for the committee that UR President Joel Seligman has promised is presented.

The University has not yet responded to Wednesday's  protest.