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Indiana Daily Student

IUSG Title IX Committee calls IU’s inaction on sexual harassment allegations ‘incomprehensible’

IU Student Government’s Title IX Committee released a statement Thursday calling IU’s handling of sexual harassment allegations against associate professor Murray McGibbon “incomprehensible.” The Indiana Daily Student published an investigation Monday detailing years of allegations against McGibbon. 

The committee is asking IU to remove McGibbon from the Department of Theatre, Drama, and Contemporary Dance, where he teaches 33 students in three acting and directing classes this semester.

“It is incomprehensible that our university has failed to take action on the pattern of sexual harassment that has been identified by the university,” the committee’s statement said.

IU determined more than a year ago that McGibbon sexually harassed then-freshman Josh Hogan during auditions and rehearsals for “The Goat, or Who is Sylvia,” a high-profile play McGibbon directed in 2018. McGibbon “exhibited a pattern of singling out some students and giving them undue attention,” Vice Provost for Faculty and Academic Affairs Eliza Pavalko wrote in a September 2019 decision letter following a Title IX investigation into Hogan’s allegations.

Pavalko imposed sanctions on McGibbon but allowed him to continue teaching classes.

In August, graduate student Jamie Anderson accused McGibbon of sexually harassing her and reported him to IU’s Title IX office. Administrators determined Anderson’s complaint did not rise to the level of a violation of IU’s sexual misconduct policy.

IUSG’s Title IX Committee was formed as an ad hoc committee this year, but chairperson Kaitlin Scott said she asked the oversight committee Monday to make it permanent. 

Scott, a sophomore, said the committee aims to hold the university accountable and encourage collaboration among campus organizations that have already been working on Title IX issues. Its other main goal is to ensure the rights of survivors, which Scott said “did not happen in the case that was mentioned in the article.”

“It is unacceptable for IU’s Office of Institutional Equity to not have a public policy that determines what actions warrant professors removal,” the committee’s statement said. 

Scott said in addition to pushing OIE to create a specific policy outlining what constitutes a fireable offense for a professor, IUSG Congress is formulating a survey for counselors and sexual assault survivors to get an idea of where they think IU’s policies are failing.

“That way, we’re not trying to implement our own voices where we might not have experience and we don’t actually know what’s lacking at the university,” Scott said.

The theater department’s Student Advisory Board, which serves as a liaison between students and faculty, said in a statement Tuesday that “the university needs to do everything possible in order to terminate Professor McGibbon’s employment.”

On Wednesday, IU-Bloomington’s Graduate and Professional Student Government also called for McGibbon to be removed from teaching. 

Students are organizing a protest Friday afternoon outside the theater building to demand McGibbon’s removal.

Caroline Anders and Kaitlyn Radde contributed reporting.

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