Holding the U of R accountable, students hold protest on campus

(WHAM photo)

Rochester, N.Y. - It was the first Friday of the spring semester at the University of Rochester, and dozens of students gathered to protest on campus.

“Times up, change now! Times up, change now!” chanted students as prospective students walked by.

Graduate students took the microphone, announcing they are working to become part of a union.

Organizers tell 13WHAM the protest was about continuing to hold the University accountable and making sure students understand the report surrounding alleged sexual misconduct of a professor that came out last week.

Ahead of the protest, the Interim President Richard Feldman reached out to organizer Jenna Register to set up a meeting. She said that has made her more hopeful than when President Joel Seligman announced he will be stepping down in February.

“It kind of felt like it was saying, ‘Look I resigned, justice is served,’ where it really wasn’t,” said Register. “But I did have a meeting with Interim President Richard Feldman today. He expressed to me I think something President Seligman did not, is that he sees this as an opportunity.”

Despite this meeting, Register is continuing to move forward with protests like this one, holding the University accountable, and handing out red envelopes and stamps to fellow protesters so they can send letters to prospective U of R students.

Fellow organizer Lindsay Wrobel read the list of recommendations to the crowd from last week’s report. Many of the recommendations have three to six-month timelines.

While they would like to see policy changes across the board, one recommendation they’re keeping a close eye on is operating a separate Title IX office. Currently, the Title IX officer is the same lawyer who would represent the university if sued.

In the crowd Friday was former student Joseph Irrera, who has an open sexual harassment case against the university from his time at the Eastman School of Music. He did not know there were others until the EECO complaint came out.

“The harassment and all this stuff going on is bad enough - and that is not to lighten that; that is disgraceful on its own. But to top that with having no support structure, just being very dismissive when students, such as me, come and ask administration for help and relief, that is, if not just as bad, even worse as the harassment itself,” said Irrera. “I think that there can be change. Just, like I said, the right people have to do the right thing. And that, sometimes, the hardest thing, but they’re going to have to step up and get that done.”

In a letter obtained by 13WHAM News, the university’s Faculty Senate, ahead of their meeting next week, announced two motions that will be brought forward by the Senate Executive Committee. First, they condemn Professor Florian Jaeger's behavior and believe these behaviors meet standards for termination. Second, they protest the actions of the lawyers who searched and shared faculty emails. You can read the full letter below.

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