The State Press uncovered unprofessional, inappropriate behavior by ASU School of Film, Dance and Theatre faculty Micha Espinosa, who encouraged students to pretend to breastfeed/”find the nipple” while disusing her own experiences breastfeeding:
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.
School of Transborder Studies professor Marivel Danielson is accused of similar sexual misconduct in 2019. She was cleared because she claims the behavior occurred after her accuser graduated; the behavior began when the accuser was an undergraduate in Danielson’s “Queer Performativity” course, and continued throughout Danielson’s direction of the student’s Barrett Honors thesis.
This October we’re calling attention to the near-fatal violence a Barrett first-year student experienced while dating her Human Event professor David Conz. 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.
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.
Grooming refers to a series of behaviors by an abuser to ensure a victim accepts physical and psychological abuse as normal and desirable, and to ensure that a victim does not report or expose sexual misconduct.
The grooming process at Barrett has been known to begin in mandatory freshman “Human Event” seminars, and often progresses to Study Abroad trips, teaching assistantship, and thesis direction. Professors not associated with Barrett have also used the Barrett Honors Thesis project to blur boundaries and groom students for sexual abuse.
Written by “Jane” and SDASA founder Jasmine Lester
Rape culture is deeply ingrained in Arizona State University’s Barrett Honors College, where professors sexually abuse students and the administration silences victims.
Jane felt let down by ASU and Barrett failing to educate students about consent and rape culture, specifically that a professor’s power over a student’s grades and future makes mutual consent to romantic or sexual activity impossible. When Dr. Hunter seduced Jane, she was unable to recognize that he was sexually abusing her. He even used a colleague’s well-known sexual encounters with students to his advantage, asking Jane’s opinion of professors sleeping with students to gauge her vulnerability to abuse.
On December 11, 2013 sexual harassment victim Jasmine Lester attended a mandatory meeting with Arizona State University Chief of Human Resources, Kevin Salcido. Lester brought State Press reporter Nicholas P. Mendoza, and Salcido brought HR legal partner Sylvester Simons. The meeting occurred because of comments Lester made at ASU’s LGBTQA Community Dialogue, where she suggested all ASU employees receive LGBTQA sensitivity training. Lester was an employee of ASU at the time.
Lester cited an incident when Human Sexuality professor Lee Spencer (who keynoted the event) made inappropriate jokes and comments in class about Lester’s sexual orientation by referencing Lester’s sexual prowess as a lesbian and encouraging heterosexual male students to sexually harass Lester by asking for threesomes.
The conversation with Salcido then turned to the way ASU enables faculty who sexually harass and sexually abuse students, specifically professors leading Study Abroad trips at Barrett, The Honors College. Similar to the what we learned from the conversation with President Crow, the ASU administration does not care about taking .
On December 2, Sun Devils Against Sexual Assault students attended the “Changing the Face of Higher Education” town hall conversation with ASU President Michael Crow. Jasmine Lester, a victim of faculty sexual harassment, asked Crow about violations of Title IX and the administration’s enabling of professors who sexually harass and abuse students. It appears the only thing Crow takes seriously is gaslighting sexual harassment victims.
In February 2012, Sun Devils Against Sexual Assault attended an open forum with ASU president Michael Crow, where we asked about Barrett, Honors College professors sexually harassing and assaulting students. While he says that professors who engage in sexual misconduct are punished, the history at Barrett Honors college proves otherwise.
A former Arizona State student claims that “ASU refused to authorize either a drug screen [or] rape kit for DNA analysis” and “obstructed and shut down the investigation” after she was drugged and sodomized at a Sigma Chi fraternity party. She claims campus police did not interview a single Sigma Chi member, blamed her for “having been forcibly sodomized,” and did it all “to make ASU appear safer than it was.”