Bethune-Cookman Fires Back at AAUP

October 26, 2010

Bethune-Cookman University on Monday issued a statement along with reports and endorsements to counter a report issued by the American Association of University Professors criticizing the way seven faculty members had lost their jobs. While the AAUP found that the professors were denied due process and other protections, the university argued that the AAUP ignored evidence -- in particular in the case of four faculty members who were accused of sexual harassment. The AAUP reported that the professors -- who deny the accusation -- were never given basic information about the charges they faced.

But the university denies this claim and on Monday released a consultant's report about the case (which does not name the professors). According to the consultant's report, "the four professors had an off-campus apartment where they took female students to have sex; one or more of the four professors would take nude photos of the female students at the apartment and threaten to release the photos on Facebook if the students revealed their improper actions to the university's administration."

Based on this report, the university maintains that taking action against the professors was required to protect students. Bethune-Cookman also released several statements of support. One, from the National Council of Negro Women, said that "a university has a fiduciary duty to its students to protect them from acts of sexual misconduct by professors and must take swift and remedial action to ensure their continued safety and an environment free from intimidation and sexual harassment."

Another statement of support came from Rev. Al Sharpton: "I have personally studied this case, and the university was within its right and boundaries to do exactly what it did. And I feel obligated to support the administrators with this decision. It's amazing to me that of all the institutions in the nation, this organization is challenging a historically black college and university when actions of this type are reported all over the nation. Just like the nation must address racism, respect for a person's mind, dignity and body are just as important. Thank God that Bethune-Cookman dared to stand up to protect its students."

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