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Indiana Daily Student

OPINION: IU put me and my classmates in danger. Why weren't we warned about Murray McGibbon?

I found it strange I hadn’t heard from my Directing I professor in nearly four days. Typically, he sent messages daily, reminding us what we needed to read or assignments that were due. On Monday, a classmate sent me and others an Indiana Daily Student investigation that said IU determined last year our professor sexually harassed a student in 2018. 

I immediately felt sick to my stomach. I froze. I replayed every interaction I had with Murray McGibbon. Every overly detailed compliment he had given to a student. Every time there could have been another victim.

One of my classmates said she had been in contact with the Student Advocates Office, and that we should all email them. Unless a specific number of emails were sent saying students were uncomfortable and needed separate class arrangements, we might not be able to leave his class, she said. Even then, it might not be enough.

After all, the multiple allegations against him and IU’s determination that he had, in fact, sexually harassed a student wasn’t enough. 

Before I knew about the allegations, I had respect for McGibbon. The trust I inherently had for anyone who calls themselves a professor is now broken. Thinking about how I sat in Zoom calls, took notes, completed assignments and dedicated my time to his course makes me feel like an accomplice.

But McGibbon’s behavior wasn’t my fault. IU brushed sexual harassment aside like it was nothing, with the allegations against McGibbon being only one of an unknowable number of examples.

By not acting, IU knowingly put its students in danger and is continuing to do so by allowing him to teach. The university — failing on all fronts ranging from common decency to institutional protection — never warned my classmates and I about the allegations or suggested we consider switching classes.

And so far, no one from IU has contacted me. Had it not been for the IDS reporting, I might have never even known.

I can’t understand how IU could let professors with allegations such as McGibbon’s continue to even be on or near campus. McGibbon’s role as a professor served as a gateway to all of the harassment students say they were subject to. By letting him stay, IU sent a message that professors can sexually harass their students without serious consequences.

IU is actively betraying the theater department and every student in it. What was once seen as a program to call home has been tarnished by normalized and tolerated sexual harassment. Many students had already stopped calling the department home and had to live in fear and isolation because of McGibbon long before the details were public.

To my classmates and all those affected by sexual harassment: My heart is with you. This incident has damaged our trust in the department and IU. For many of us, a veil of comfort we were privileged to wear is now being shed, and we need to act to contact everyone we can at IU to ensure none of us — especially those targeted by him — have to see McGibbon on our campus ever again.

If the student community keeps allowing IU to disregard our safety, more communities will be endangered by cases involving sexual harassment. It is up to us, the students, to protect the homes we have found on campus and use every resource we can to show IU enough is enough.

Maggie Mulligan (she/her) is a sophomore studying recreational therapy and theater. She is a member of the RedStepper Dance Team, Gamma Phi Beta sorority and the Panhellenic Association Diversity and Inclusion board.

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