Ohio University has taken the next step in its consideration of discipline for an OU journalism professor whom a university Title IX investigation found to have sexually harassed a graduate student.
The university through a spokesperson confirmed Friday last week that it has chosen a pool of 14 OU faculty members from which six faculty will be pulled to consider the charges outlined in the Title IX investigation and determine what punishment, if any, is warranted.
After the six people are chosen and trained, the committee (called the University Professional Ethics Committee) will provide a recommendation to OU’s Provost for discipline for journalism professor Yusuf Kalyango Jr. after a 45-day review period, according to OU policy.
Kalyango, director of the Institute for International Journalism at the Scripps School of Journalism, was found in an OU Office for Equity and Civil Rights Compliance (ECRC) report published earlier this year, through a preponderance of evidence standard, to have violated three OU policy sections. He did so, the report alleged, by sexually harassing a female graduate student working for programs under Kalyango by quid pro quo; sexually harassing that student by hostile work environment; and harassing her based on her sex.
Kalyango has since been suspended for this fall semester, and his classes turned over to other faculty members.
Kalyango’s lawyer, John Marshall of Columbus employment law firm Marshall & Forman, said in a statement this week that his client denies the student’s accusations.
“Professor Kalyango denies the accusations made against him and looks forward to clearing his name in the university process, which is his first opportunity to present evidence and show that the accusations are not true,” Marshall wrote.
The allegations against Kalyango refer to a period of time in spring and summer 2017 during which, the student reported in her ECRC complaint, Kalyango made several “uncomfortable advances” toward her in person and via text message.
These alleged incidences, according to the ECRC memorandum of findings report written by ECRC civil-rights investigator G. Antonio Anaya, preceded a trip to the East African nation of Rwanda to which Kalyango invited her. That trip followed the conclusion of the YALI (Young Africans’ Leadership Initiative) program in South Africa, where – Kalyango revealed in an itinerary provided to the graduate student just days before the two left for the YALI program – he had reserved a room at a resort hotel at Lake Kivu in Rwanda. He allegedly told the student it was the only room “available,” and that they would have to share it.
The student reported, as related in the ECRC report, that she “immediately rejected” that offer, and ended up staying in the room by herself, with Kalyango staying in a different city. Kalyango in the report denied that he had ever asked her to share the room with him, though ECRC investigator Anaya noted that he had a copy of the emailed reservation request from Kalyango that showed that he had sought the reservation “for me” for a room for “two people,” booked for two days in late June 2017.
“Complainant stated that because this was a university trip, she did not believe cohabitating was appropriate,” Anaya reported, referencing a meeting between Kalyango and the student in late May, just two days before the two left for the YALI trip. “Respondent then stated that this was not part of a university trip.”
According to the student’s allegations in Anaya’s ECRC report, Kalyango’s behavior toward the student became “cold” after she rejected the offer to stay with him. Specifically, she reported that Kalyango severely criticized her for her work recording YALI program participants’ evaluations, and for her tabulation of receipts from the program. When reviewing the evaluations, investigator Anaya noted a total of nine instances in which Kalyango allegedly altered the content of the actual evaluation forms submitted by the participants, in order to either “downplay a criticism of the YALI program, increase the criticism of (the student), increase the praise of (Kalyango) or the program as a whole, or, in the most egregious case, absolutely contradicted a scathing criticism of Witness M (another program staffer).”
The NEWS has learned of at least one other instance of the ECRC office investigating Kalyango for alleged misconduct. Michael Sweeney, associate director for graduate studies at the Scripps School, said in a recent interview that he’s aware of a complaint being investigated by the ECRC from a student alleging that Kalyango retaliated against the student for a reason Sweeney did not disclose.
WOUB Public Media reported earlier this month that a third ECRC sexual-harassment investigation was under way as well against Kalyango, but The NEWS was unable to independently verify that claim.
Kalyango’s attorney Marshall said, “No specifics have come to our attention at all” regarding those other two alleged investigations, “so we can’t comment on it.”
Sweeney said that two female students had approached him with complaints against Kalyango, prior to the first investigation getting under way.
“I found their accounts convincing (because of) their body language, the tone of their voice, the fact that they broke down in my office. The rage that they exhibited made a believer out of me,” Sweeney explained. “They both told me a version of this, ‘that I came here to get an education and this is interfering with my life.’”
The OU professors who were tabbed for the formation of the University Professional Ethics Committee include:
• Arts and Sciences, Soichi Tanda
• Business, Anna Rosado-Feger
• Scripps College of Communication, Eddith Dashiell
• Patton College of Education, Matthew Felton-Koestler
• Russ College of Engineering, Neil Littel
• College of Fine Arts, Shelley Delaney
• College of Health Sciences, Cheryl Geng
• HCOM, Berkeley Franz
• Voinovich School, Sarah Davis
• OU Chillicothe campus, Jim McKean
• OU Eastern, Kevin Spiker
• OU Lancaster, Quiping Cao
• OU Southern, Mashawna Hamilton
• OU Zanesville, Amy White