Petition targets Barrett sexual abuse

As federal investigators are looking into how ASU handles sexual violence and misconduct complaints, some students claim the university is turning a blind eye to a culture of sexual misconduct at the Barrett Honors College. The students say the problem goes beyond a couple professors sleeping with students. They go so far as to say it’s a way of life within the college, where faculty flirts, dates, gropes, and has sex with students without consequence.

Published to MyFoxPhoenix.com May 2, 2014 by Nicole Garcia

One group is trying to change that they started a petition asking the university to fire the teachers who do this. That petition has received a lot of support so far with nearly a thousand students have already signed it.

Jasmine Lester founded the group Sun Devils Against Sexual Assault, she says professors continually get away with taking advantage of their students sexually.

She says her professor took advantage of her during a study abroad trip.

“She would go out drinking with all the students getting me drunk holding me up feeling me up,’ said Lester.

Lester launched the petition to put a stop to what she calls the rape culture at Barrett. Since then, more than 900 have signed it, and many women have come forward with their own stories.

She describes a situation one of her peers encountered: “She and her professor were in a relationship while she was a student in his class, that’s where the power dynamic comes in. He had control over her grades, letters of recommendation, scholarship letters, etc.,” said Lester.

The woman told FOX 10 via email that she “felt like she owed him sexual favors in exchange for things like letters of recommendation and extensions on class assignments.”

That professor no longer teaches at ASU; he left suddenly, in the middle of the semester after the woman says she filed a sexual abuse complaint.

But in the end the students say their complaints are not taken seriously by administrators and in some cases even discouraged.

“[ASU Title IX Coordinator Kamala Green] said, ‘When we think of sexual harassment we’re thinking more shove you-up-against-the-wall kind of thing,’ because a lot of what I’ve been describing was emotional harassment that [the professor had] been putting me through,” she said.

Lester says she wants professors to be held accountable and administrators to educate students about the different forms of sexual abuse.

“They don’t say, ‘This is what consent is and this how power can compromise that and just so you know your professors might behave inappropriately with you.’ It’s not just frat boys, it’s also people in positions of power,” said Lester.

We asked ASU to address these specific claims, they would not. The university did issue a statement: “Arizona State University is a community where sexual misconduct is not tolerated. The university has policies and procedures in place to handle such matters. We take all sexual misconduct complaints very seriously, thoroughly investigate them and deliver swift and appropriate punishment if violations are found.”

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