U Of I Student Groups Aim To Honor Survivors, Raise Awareness About Sexual Misconduct

A quote from a U of I campus investigation into sexual harassment allegations against law professor Jay Kesan.

A quote from a U of I campus investigation into sexual harassment allegations against law professor Jay Kesan.

Illinois Newsroom

Two upcoming events aim to honor survivors of sexual harassment, misconduct and assault and raise awareness about its prevalence at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

On Tuesday, November 13, the U of I Student Bar Association will host a moment of silence at Noon to remember survivors of sexual misconduct.

The law student group’s president, Ashley Kennedy, said the past few weeks have been challenging for the College of Law, ever since news broke about law professor Jay Kesan.

A campus investigation found Kesan sexually harassed numerous female students and staff—a charge he no longer denies.

“The students, the staff, and everybody in the law community, we are hurting over this,” Kennedy said. “So it’s a moment for when we can come together and begin the healing process.”

Kennedy said she hopes the event will keep the momentum going on efforts between students and campus administrators to revise campus sexual misconduct policies.  

The ultimate goal is to make sure students and faculty are protected going forward, she said.

The campus investigation found Kesan violated the campus code of conduct, but was not "sufficiently pervasive or severe" to constitute a violation of U of I’s sexual misconduct policies.

Kesan is still with the U of I. But last Friday, the law school announced he’ll take a one-year unpaid leave of absence.

Kennedy said this is a step in the right direction.

But the Student Bar Association, together with the U of I Student Government, continue to demand Kesan’s resignation.

Later this month, another U of I group—Students Against Sexual Assault—is planning to hold a rally to raise awareness about sexual misconduct perpetrated by professors on campus.

The group is asking for students to share their stories anonymously online in advance of the event. A date for the rally has not yet been finalized.

A message from Students Against Sexual Assault:

"If you know a professor or staff member here at UIUC who has engaged in sexually disrespectful behavior, not limited to but including stalking, misuse of power Dynamics, sexually inappropriate commentary, sexual harassment, sexual Assault, sexual abuse and inappropriate or illegal activity of the like we are seeking to hold accountability. This coming November SASA, among other organizations, are seeking to bring light to this prevalent issue on our campus. If you have encountered any of the above, please feel free to anonymously submit the name of the staff/faculty member. You also have the option to submit a brief description of what happened or select a category, though this is not a requirement. Your submissions will be publicized in an ambition to raise awareness for the extent of this problem on our campus. There will be a rally in November publicizing these problematic figures. Details to come. We support you. We believe you. Let's rally."

Follow Christine on Twitter: @CTHerman

Story source: WILL