Students alleged that a now former Nicholls State University assistant geography professor with a self-described clown “fetish” asked them to paint their own faces or to let him paint them, according to reports from The Nicholls Worth student newspaper and USA Today.
“The Nicholls Worth has received confirmed reports from multiple students who allege that [Joseph] Tokosh had them paint their faces in clown or other white makeup styles, an activity Tokosh once posted was a ‘fetish’ of his,” the student publication reported March 27 in a story headlined "Geography professor suspended immediately, students allege sexual harassment." The Louisiana university said it had suspended him on March 25.
USA Today released a lengthy story on Tokosh Thursday, including similar allegations made when he was a graduate student worker at Kent State and Northern Illinois Universities. USA Today reported that two Kent State students had reported Tokosh to the police, but there were no arrests.
“His interactions with students and open discussion of his fetish happened in both mainstream and tailored digital spaces,” USA Today reported. “He popped into Facebook groups geared toward new students and niche forums on websites like Reddit. He posted videos on YouTube. In one Reddit post on a forum meant to highlight hard-to-believe stories, Tokosh posted pictures of several women in white face paint.”
Inside Higher Ed was unable to reach Tokosh Thursday. Neither Kent State nor Northern Illinois responded to requests for comment.
Jerad David, a Nicholls State spokesman, said Tokosh resigned in late March after being placed on paid administrative leave pending an investigation, and after being told his contract wouldn’t be renewed in the fall.
David said face-painting “was sort of built into his syllabus as an assignment, and it went beyond that, where he was asking students outside of the classroom to do this.”