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Mary Rogus

Mary Rogus. Photo courtesy of Ohio University, Eli C. Hiller.

Mary Rogus, an Ohio University journalism professor, resigned Monday from the Scripps College of Communication scholarship committee after coming under fire for comments made on Twitter in defense of her colleague Yusuf Kalyango, who was suspended after he was found by Title IX office investigations to have sexually harassed two students.

Rogus will continue as chair of the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism’s scholarship committee, which reviews applications for scholarships given each year to students enrolled in the school, department director Eddith Dashiell said in an email. It’s not clear who will replace Rogus on the Scripps college’s scholarship committee, which reviews application for scholarships awarded at the college level.

Rogus, a longtime faculty member and friend of Kalyango who’s been an outspoken critic of the university investigations into his conduct, disparaged the women who accused Kalyango of sexual harassment in a now-deleted string of tweets and said the Faculty Senate committee that recommended the upholding of Kalyango’s tenure “saw the truth abt a falsely accused accomplished Black scholar.”

“As a survivor of real sexual harassment, I’m furious for exploitation of #MeToo and ECRC’s incomplete investigation,” Rogus said in reference to the Faculty Senate committee’s determination that the OU Office for Equity and Civil Rights Compliance’s (Title IX office) investigations into Kalyango’s conduct were insufficient.

Rogus — who organized university programs alongside Kalyango and teaches media ethics, among other courses — said in a statement provided to The Athens Messenger that she deleted the tweets after recognizing the journalism school and Scripps college were being criticized.

“With all of my heart, I would like to express deep regret that my words caused hurt to other survivors of sexual misconduct,” she said. “That was not at all my intention, but clearly, I did not think through how my words would be perceived. I support and believe survivors and encourage them to come forward to report any behavior that they feel is unacceptable.”

Tess Herman, a former student who was found by a Title IX office investigation to be harassed by Kalayango, alleged in a now-settled lawsuit against the university that Rogus tried to dissuade her from reporting Kaylango.

Rogus denied the claim numerous times.

Her tweets prompted swift backlash on social media from students and survivors of sexual misconduct who said her use of the term “real sexual harassment” was disrespectful.

In response, some students painted on OU’s graffiti wall, demanding in spray-painted tags that the university fire Rogus for her comments.

Scott Titsworth, dean of the Scripps college who is also under investigation by the Title IX office after Kalyango alleged racial discrimination, said in an email to all students in the journalism school that Rogus’ tweets don’t represent either the journalism school or the Scripps college.

“We respect every individual’s rights to free speech and will take every reasonable measure to ensure that members of our community can voice opinions in a proper way and without fear of retaliation,” he said. “We also recognize that there are potential repercussions from exercising these rights, and in this particular instance we will take every reasonable measure to support out students and colleagues who were offended, angered, or frustrated by the social media post.”

Dashiell said in a statement that she didn’t know about Rogus’ tweets until a student sent her a copy of it.

“Since then, I have heard from students and alumni expressing concern that the post was insensitive to the complaints of sexual harassment cases,” she said. “Please know that her posted comments do not represent the position of the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism, The Scripps College of Communication or Ohio University.”

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