On the question of Jaeger, there are some simple answers, President Seligman.
As you somewhat already agree — or at least agree with the man himself — T. Florian Jaeger should not be teaching here anytime soon.
This is best for all parties. It is best for the students, those in his classes and in the hallways, many of whom would surely feel less safe or less comfortable with him teaching, given the allegations. It is best for the University, which would likely have to deal with even harsher protests if Jaeger were to continue working so closely with students, given the allegations. And it would be better for Jaeger, since his ability to teach would definitely be disrupted, given the allegations.
All this is true even if those allegations — that for years, Jaeger sexually harassed colleagues and graduate students, and that after UR cleared him of wrongdoing, it retaliated against those who came forward — are false. At the least, until the federal complaint that spurred this situation on campus is resolved, and until those new investigations into new evidence you promised are finished, this is not a safe or productive environment in which Jaeger should teach. Simple.
What is also simple, President Seligman, is that if you really believe some of the allegations in that complaint are true, as you said at your town hall, then the actionable standard you also spoke about is clearly too high.
You’re right: Due process is important, and the University’s process is important. We do not want mob rule either. But if even a fraction of the allegations in that complaint are true, then UR’s standard for axing professors who sexually harass students must be reformed. Any amount is enough; with professors able to coerce students through their grades or career prospects, this isn’t a power gap that needs any more widening.
It is too early, and no one has yet done enough research, to offer more specific changes. But this idea should be your compass.
Look at who’s brought these allegations to light: Why would so many respected faculty members put their careers on the line — or even resign in protest, as Richard Aslin has — for something without merit? We don’t and may never have access to the evidence the University examined in clearing Jaeger, but it is unlikely there was no shred of truth in it all.
And again, if there’s even a shred of truth, it’s enough. Simple.
Similarly, President Seligman, if you actually conduct your investigation into Title IX Coordinator Morgan Levy, as you said you would, her firing from that position should be seriously considered. The claim that Levy has a conflict of interest because she was a defense attorney for UR, as many have spread, does appear to be false. Members of the administration have told us so, and there is no clear evidence anywhere that it’s the case. But too many people have come forward, both to you at the town hall and elsewhere, with accounts of her utter ineptitude in upholding compliance with Title IX, which is her job. It is unlikely they are lying. And anyway, too many students have lost too much faith in Levy’s ability to do her job. That alone is enough to consider whether this post is the most effective way she can serve your administration.
You seemed frustrated at the town hall when you sighed and raised your voice and weathered three hours of onslaught from students, alumni, staff, and faculty, President Seligman. In some cases, for good reason. Some of the questions you received were unfair or unrealistic, and the difficult but necessary task of navigating grey areas has not always been a priority of the campaign against you. But there were just as many times during that forum when you flubbed, majorly. Honestly, you didn’t sound prepared for the task ahead.
And if you keep dragging your feet, President Seligman, well, this reality is the simplest of all: The vocal group calling for your resignation will grow louder, until so many students have joined its chorus that any other option might be hard to hear.