Universities paid $10.5M to settle harassment claims
- The Wall Street Journal reviewed records showing that 22 university systems and universities, including all campuses of Texas A&M and the University California, paid more than $10.5 million connected with sexual harassment claims in 59 settlements in 2016 and 2017.
- The report said the settlements with students, staff and faculty members often came about when the institutions didn’t respond to the allegations appropriately or didn’t punish the perpetrator adequately.
- Often the settlements were designed to avoid lengthy disciplinary actions that would likely end up in the courts, the WSJ reported. In cases at the University of Michigan, Washington State University and the University of Kentucky, the institutions settled in exchange for an early retirement or resignation.
The Wall Street Journal also has reported that colleges have been tightening restrictions on professors accused of harassment, and several recently banned dating between professors and students, including Syracuse, Cornell, Columbia and Arizona State universities and the University of Pennsylvania.
Athletic programs have often been the focus of accusations of sexual misconduct, including Baylor University, where a former football coach was accused of covering up incidents for years. The University of Tennessee at Knoxville was accused of giving athletes special treatment in the process meant to review charges of sexual misconduct. Northeastern University’s Center for the Study of Sport in Society reported almost half of the students who engaged in “sexually coercive behaviors” on campus were intercollegiate and recreational athletes.
A researcher at the University of Tennessee found only about half of sports management students were exposed to training about sexual harassment, and one sports journalist said others in her profession don’t cover the issues appropriately, though it is important that they do.
More serious crimes on campus are documented by the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network (RAINN), which reports that women are more than two times more likely to be sexually assaulted than robbed in college and about one quarter of undergraduate females experience rape or sexual assault through physical force, violence or incapacitation. The network said, however, only 20 percent report the crimes, and The Atlantic reported that for a variety of reasons the data about sexual assault and harassment on campus is difficult to develop.
- The Wall Street Journal Schools Pay Millions in Sexual-Harassment Settlements