During Meliora Weekend, an estimated 40 people protested against Tim Florian Jaeger, a professor of Brain and Cognitive Sciences and Computer Science who, in 2016, had been accused of alleged sexual misconduct.
After the 2017 federal lawsuit and investigation by former U.S. attorney Mary Jo White, the uproar of allegations led to the resignation of then-University President Joel Seligman, a defendant in the lawsuit. The University had concluded that Jaeger had not violated any University policies. In 2020, UR paid a $9.4 million settlement to nine former students and faculty members who had claimed UR retaliated against the accusations.
Now, nearly four years after the initial accusations, SA members Boris Sorokin and Krithi Krishna, both juniors, organized a protest against Jaeger with the goal to bring awareness to new students who had never heard of the incident. In an interview with the Campus Times, Sorokin said that they had accomplished their goal of “break[ing] this cycle where problems were forgotten when students who witnessed them were graduating.”
Likewise, Sorokin also voiced that the protest was organized “to show that there’s a strong link between the alumni and current students,” and that they won’t allow administration to be silent on issues they no longer want to face.
While Sorokin told CT that the protest efforts were directed at the administration because they “didn’t do enough to keep Jaeger accountable, others were trying to put a pressure on Jaeger to resign.” Likewise, Sorokin also noted that some participants didn’t know much about Jaeger and were sharing their personal history of being harassed.
“Although the protest was organized and driven by a very specific group of students, the students there had a huge spectrum of goals. It will be unfair on my end to claim that the protest was all about Jaeger personally, or Title IX issues at large— it was about everything and each person who came there had their own unique story to tell,” he said.
Assistant Vice President for Communications and University Spokesperson Sara Miller responded with a statement to the CT in an email, writing about UR’s response to the policy issues this incident brought to light. “In the past several years the University has strengthened its Policy Against Discrimination and Harassment; clarified the process for reporting, investigating, and resolving complaints of this nature and substantially grown the investigative staff; created the Office of Equity and Inclusion, including welcoming the University’s first chief diversity officer; [and] created the new position of AVP for Civil Rights Compliance.”
Jaeger himself also commented on the improvements the University has made for such allegations in an email to the CT. “Ironically, I find myself agreeing with many of the changes to Title 9 and other regulations that I have heard proposed at similar previous protests,” he wrote. “While the University has made [strives] to improve the preparation it affords to students and faculty to avoid conflict and abuse, there’s much room for improvement.”
Although Jaeger expressed that the protests are “likely to the result of well-meant activism,” he also expressed that the protesters are “perhaps unaware that they are inadvertently doing something they are accusing me of: bullying a member of our community, and making this place a hostile environment for me to work and live in.”
“This would be one thing[,] had I done the things that I am accused of in these contexts,” wrote Jaeger. “But I have not.” Jaeger also wrote about how “falsities at that protest” — including being “called a rapist and predator” — have impacted him and the department. He cited defamatory messages smeared on his office with similar language to the fliers hung around campus (“Fire Jaeger”), as well as “death threats and […] other attempts at intimidation.”
For his full response, click here.
Miller says that Jaeger “remains a tenured professor with an active research program,” and says that University officials are continuing efforts to improve revisions to the Policy Against Discrimination and Harassment with a proposal.
As for the protesters, Sorokin says that this is not over. “We will continue to act,” he said. “We don’t want [administration] to feel calm about the issues that haven’t been fully addressed.”