Following the creation of a petition that called for the “immediate removal” of a faculty member who was accused of sexually harassing a student, some students received an e-mail from San Jose State University saying he no longer works at the university.
The petition was in response to an NBC Bay Area news segment that aired in May. A female student, who wished to remain anonymous, told NBC that Jeffry Mathis — a part-time lecturer in the kinesiology department — sexually assaulted her. According to a university report obtained by NBC, Mathis admitted to “kissing and touching the student,” but said it was consensual. After seeing the news segment, San Jose State student Sasha Bassett created the change.org petition with a group of students who called themselves Students for the Accountability of Jeffry Mathis. After receiving 608 signatures on the petition by June 3, Bassett said she, one other member of the group and NBC received this e-mail message from San Jose State President Mo Qayoumi and sent by his chief of staff, Dorothy Poole:
We share your concern about the recent NBC 11 story describing an alleged sexual battery case at SJSU involving a lecturer, Jeffry Mathis and a female student. We are writing today to let you know that SJSU cares about and is firmly committed to providing a safe environment for everyone in the campus community. We strive to implement timely and appropriate actions to protect our community members, including promptly, carefully and thoroughly investigating all complaints, followed by appropriate responses and actions. If there is any reason to believe a crime has occurred or safety is at risk, the University Police Department is contacted, and if appropriate, the matter is referred to the Santa Clara County District Attorney.
Regarding the allegations made in the news report, the university conducted a thorough internal investigation in addition to a police investigation immediately after the student filed the complaint. Based on those investigations, the university took appropriate action. Because this is a personnel matter, the specific details of the actions taken are confidential. However, Mr. Mathis is no longer employed by SJSU.
Bassett said the group was hoping for more details explaining whether Mathis was removed from or voluntarily left his position at San Jose State.
“Our main goal was transparency within the school, and I think they missed that point,” Bassett said. “It’s not our goal for the school to try and make us go away. We want the school to work with us.”
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