San Jose State's Slow Response to Harassment Finding

September 7, 2016

A San Jose State University professor remained department chair for months after a campus investigation that concluded he had harassed a student, and he was placed on leave only after a journalist raised questions about the case, the Bay Area News Group reported. Mary Papazian, the university's new president, told the news group, "I think we can agree that there are things we can learn from the way it was handled."

The case involves Lewis Aptekar, a professor and chair of the university's counselor education department. He was found to have acted inappropriately by asking a student in class if she was single and commented that he would date her. Aptekar declined to comment, but his lawyer said the comments were made in a classroom discussion about romantic relationships and did not constitute harassment. The student said in class that "everyone leaves" her, the lawyer said, and when Aptekar said he would never leave her, he was trying to be supportive. The university's investigation found that Aptekar "is couching his questioning as educational inquiry, but he is inappropriately using this method to probe for more personal information than [can] possibly be related to an academic program."

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