MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — In spring 2018, two University of Minnesota professors faced allegations of sexual harassment. Now the two men have returned to the school.
According to an email from Humphrey School of Public Affairs Dean Laura Bloomberg sent Monday to partners and members of the college, and since obtained by WCCO, professors Jason Cao and Jim Ron were both found to have violated the university’s sexual harassment policies after investigations by the school’s office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action.
The two professors received a disciplinary suspension without pay last academic year, but returned this fall with some restrictions for working with students, according to the email.
The letter was in response to a then-upcoming story from the Star Tribune detailing the professors’ misconduct. The letter also references an upcoming article from the Minnesota Daily.
“The hard reality is that no organization is immune from the possibility that individuals will behave inappropriately,” Bloomberg writes in the email. “When this happens I believe an organization should be measured by how it creates an environment where everyone understands what constitutes inappropriate behavior, and how the organization responds to such incidents if they do occur.”
In response to a request for a comment from WCCO, the university referred to the following statement from Bloomberg:
“At the Humphrey School, we have clear expectations of what is or is not appropriate conduct, this includes what is outlined in the University’s sexual harassment policy.
“In both of these situations, we took immediate action in response to the University’s investigations and both faculty members received significant discipline, including suspension without pay.
“At all times, we work to ensure a respectful and safe school community for all faculty, staff and students.”
Following these reports, University of Minnesota undergraduate student government representative Austin Berger said Tuesday he intends to introduce a resolution calling on the university to fire Cao and Ron. Berger said he’s received support from other members of student government.
“Certainly certain forms of sexual misconduct can be more severe than others, but we shouldn’t tolerate any of that behavior. Period. No unpaid suspensions. You’re gone,” Berger said. “If you have to be supervised to be around students, that’s ridiculous to me.”