Editor’s Note: This story includes mention of sexual violence.
Jacobs School of Music students said they continued to feel unheard after faculty and other university staff held a town hall Monday night to discuss the recent Indiana Daily Student investigation concerning current jazz student Chris Parker’s sexual assault allegations.
The IDS published “Dissonance in due process,” which found the university did not follow its word when readmitting Parker after he violated a suspension stemming from a 2015 sexual assault. If he violated the campus no trespass order, the suspension terms said he was either to be expelled or charged by police. However, neither happened, and he was suspended again.
Representatives from the Dean of Students Office and Office of Institutional Equity as well as Jacobs faculty arranged and attended the meeting to hear students out about their concerns.
During the 90-minute meeting in the Musical Arts Center, about 80 students attended, many of which asked questions and gave statements about topics, including the Title IX process, how IU determines disciplinary consequences and university actions noted in the investigation.
Jazz graduate student Brendan Keller-Tuberg said the administrative faculty members crippled conversation with students because they barred questions and comments talking about specifics.
“I am happy to talk about policy and procedure and talk through and particular sexual misconduct policy and process,” Kathy Adams Riester, associate vice provost for student affairs, said in materials obtained by the IDS from the town hall. “But because of FERPA, we can't talk about specific cases.”
When administration were asked questions, Keller-Tuberg said their responses were roundabout and indirect. He said their answers wasted time. Multiple students described the meeting as the same talking points repeated over and over.
Afterward, he said students who attended felt angry about how the meeting went, but he and others expected the meeting to go poorly.
With students organizing to talk about these issues independent of Jacobs or IU, Keller-Tuberg and other students said the Jacobs student body has a stronger sense of community and is more unified than it has been before. He said they hope to bring more people together to discuss these issues in the future.
Multiple students agreed they would prefer a smaller gathering contained within the jazz studies program instead of a town hall.
“If we were to have an insulated meeting with just people that are really inside this community, that know what this family looks like, I think we could reach a more personable conversation,” junior in jazz studies Andrew Kreitner said.
Kreitner said the inclusion of students and faculty outside the jazz studies department caused the meeting to feel disconnected. He compared the town hall to conversing with a brick wall. Without speaking to the IU jazz community directly, he said the issues students brought up cannot be resolved.
“We weren't speaking to our family,” Kreitner said. “We were speaking to our family that were being counseled on behalf of the school.”
Graduate student Jin Sook Kwak was the only female instrumentalist in the jazz studies program during the fall 2021 semester. She said it was frustrating because the meeting was entirely about the process of reporting a sexual assault and not the specifics of Parker’s case. She said the town hall was pointless because people can look up information about the university’s process online.
“The purpose of the meeting was to talk about Chris Parker, and why they handled the situation like that,” she said. “We were there because of this case, but we couldn't talk about the case.”
With the time limit, Kwak and others didn’t get the chance to talk, but she said she would have stayed until 2 or 3 a.m. to discuss their concerns and questions.
“I'm very frustrated, because I can't hear anything from faculty,” she said. “How are we going to move forward? How can we trust them again?”
IU and Jacobs should have released a public statement at this point, Keller-Tuberg said, and it is frustrating they haven’t commented publicly about a public issue.
Keller-Tuberg said he wishes faculty, especially Title IX officials, considered sexual assault with more weight. University officials’ actions, or lack of, is perpetuating an environment where sexual assault is not taken seriously, he said.
“That circumstance is happening again, and again, and again,” Keller-Tuberg said. “I have zero confidence that that will change.”
The faculty and administration said during the town hall they urge students who are victims of sexual assault to report it to the university and law enforcement.
A list of resources is available here if you or someone you know has experienced sexual harassment or abuse.