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Students speak out after 2 U of M professors disciplined for sexual misconduct are reinstated

Students speak out after 2 U of M professors disciplined for sexual misconduct are reinstated Photo: KSTP-TV

Updated: September 11, 2019 09:21 AM

Members of a student group are speaking out after two University of Minnesota professors who previously violated the university's sexual misconduct policy were reinstated. 

Jason Cao was investigated in May 2018 and James Ron was investigated in August 2018. Both were disciplined later that year, according to letters from the university. The university's Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action investigated complaints against both.

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In both disciplinary letters sent to Cao and Ron, Humphrey School Dean Laura Bloomberg outlines "post-suspensions re-entry plans."

2 U of M professors return from suspensions for violating sexual harassment policy

In response to the professors returning to their teaching roles, Bloomberg issued the following statement:

At the Humphrey School, we have clear expectations of what is or is not appropriate conduct, this includes what is outlined in the University's sexual harassment policy. 

In both of these situations, we took immediate action in response to the University's investigations and both faculty members received significant discipline, including suspension without pay.  

At all times, we work to ensure a respectful and safe school community for all faculty, staff and students.

Additionally, Humphrey Associate Dean Carissa Schively Slotterback sent students an email Thursday last week inviting them to attend informational sessions about the cases. Slotterback said there would be two sessions, each an hour long, to allow students to learn "more about the two cases, the investigation processes, the disciplinary actions, and the plans put in place to monitor and mentor the individuals involved to ensure compliance with our expectations and University Policy."

Members of the Gender, Sex, & Policy Events Committee (GSPEC), an organization for Humphrey School students, said in a post Friday last week leadership "is disturbed by the news" that the two professors have returned to their positions.

"Harassment and other abuses of power by professors and authority figures make spaces unsafe and unwelcoming for women, trans and non-binary people, and people of color," the GSPEC said in a statement. "These power dynamics ultimately serve to block and deter underrepresented communities from accessing power and representation in policy creation and academia. All students deserve a safe and respectful learning environment."

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Rebecca Omastiak

Copyright 2019 - KSTP-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company

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