The State Press recently reported on unprofessional and inappropriate behavior by Arizona State University School of Film, Dance and Theatre faculty Micha Espinosa, who encouraged students to pretend to suck nipples in class, and David Barker, who targeted a black female student for humiliation. The complaints, like so many other victims’ over the years, were not taken seriously by the ASU administration.
The State Press talked to 13 of the 23 students who participated in the master’s in theatre performance program since 2011, and in doing so uncovered allegations that instructors in the program regularly crossed professional boundaries with their colleagues and students, creating an environment in which students felt led into uncomfortable situations that compromised their rights to privacy and security and in some cases exposed them to racial discrimination.
Multiple students described an exercise where they were lying on their backs with their legs spread and knees to their chest, a position known in yoga as the Happy Baby Pose. Espinosa instructed students to “find the nipple” by sucking on one of their knuckles while in the position. On one occasion, two students said she made a comment about her son making her nipples bleed while breastfeeding as she led the students through the exercise. Read more.
We’d add ASU School of Transborder Studies professor Marivel Danielson to the list of professors who cross boundaries and are inappropriate with students in theatre classes.
Professor Danielson took advantage of the vulnerability she encouraged in her “Queer Performativity” classes, and is alleged to have been sexually inappropriate with at least one of her students.
ASU continues to mishandle sexual assault cases. April 2018 an undergraduate reported being sexually assaulted on campus, but 6 months later her case drags on and ASU officials are making excuses for ignoring her:
“I constantly would check in for updates and my answer was always the same,” she told ASU State Press. “I was told that other reports were still being taken care of and that my report would be finished as soon as they could.”
“Time after time, I began to feel hopeless,” she said. “I felt like I didn’t matter and that my case wasn’t important enough as it had been going on for so long and still is as of October 2018.”
Lawrence Krauss is retiring after he was found to have violated ASU’s sexual harassment policy and a Dean recommended his termination. He remains on paid leave until May. For a complete list of allegations against Krauss, click here.
ASU says “it is inconceivable how a faculty member in the course of carrying out his work responsibilities could believe that the conduct would ever be appropriate,” but professors at ASU’s Barrett Honors College have gotten away with similar sexual misconduct over the past 20 years:
Eric Susser exposed himself to students on campus in 2002, suggested to Study Abroad students they have a threesome with him, and sexually harassed multiple students during mandatory office hours, but was not fired until 2012; on a Study Abroad trip in 2008, Jacquie Scott touched a female student inappropriately, and grabbed a male student’s hips and forced him to dance with her while insisting he was the “younger version of [her] husband.”
- View ASU’s official report on Krauss here.
- Read more on Barrett professors engaged in sexual misconduct here.
This October we’re calling attention to the near-fatal violence a Barrett freshman experienced while dating her Human Event professor. Barrett Honors College prides itself for encouraging close relationships between faculty and students, but the honors college has a longstanding, systemic problem of faculty using this closeness to sexually and psychologically abuse students.
Trigger Warning: suicide, domestic violence, gun violence
From the Phoenix New Times:
David Conz formed a relationship with a Barrett freshman who recently had completed his Human Event course. Soon after, he shot himself in the mouth. The student later would tell police that Conz was terminated after it was reported to a Barrett dean that he had given her alcohol. Under state law and current ASU policy, it’s more problematic for a professor to hand an underage student a beer than it is for him to sleep with her.
On July 31, 2018 an Arizona State University investigation concluded that professor Lawrence Krauss violated ASU’s sexual harassment policy when he groped a woman at a conference. He has yet to be fired.
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Update 1/11/2018: Petition victory! Brooke’s rapist is permanently expelled and can no longer appeal! From Brooke:
“Thank you all so much for your support and your comments that helped me get through this. Your signatures made a difference. This fight is far from over, but it was good to finally see some justice served here at ASU after 9 months of fighting. No one should have to go through this, and I will continue to fight.”
For more on ASU rape culture and future petitions, follow Sun Devils Against Sexual Assault on Facebook (Fb.com/asu.sdasa), Twitter (twitter.com/asu_sdasa), and WordPress (https://sundevilsagainstsexualassault.wordpress.com/).
Thank you to all who signed the petition!