Walter Lasecki, a University of Michigan computer science professor, will resign on Aug. 30 following the publication of a Michigan Daily investigation that exposed multiple allegations of sexual misconduct against him. Lasecki’s resignation was announced in a Friday night email from Computer Science and Engineering (CSE) department chairs. Effective immediately, Lasecki will have no in-person contact with University of Michigan students, according to the email.
The U-M Office of Public Affairs confirmed Saturday morning that Lasecki had submitted his resignation.
In another email obtained by The Michigan Daily, University Title IX coordinator Elizabeth Seney sought information on 22 previously undisclosed accounts of sexual harassment by Lasecki, writing on Friday to an individual with knowledge of the allegations. An identical email was sent to two other individuals, The Daily learned Friday.
“I understand that you may be aware of a total of 22 individuals who have disclosed they’ve experienced sexual misconduct by the faculty member, many of whose concerns have not previously, to my understanding, been reported to the University,” Seney wrote. “I also understand that you may be aware of concerns of inappropriate and possibly retaliatory contact of a University graduate student related to their prior reporting of concerns.”
Seney wrote that she hoped the individual would be able to provide the Title IX office with the information necessary to ensure the appropriate action is taken against sexual misconduct.
U-M spokesperson Rick Fitzgerald told The Daily in an email that the Office of Institutional Equity (OIE) strives to ensure all concerns are addressed and reported so OIE can provide resource and reporting options to anyone who may have experienced sexual misconduct.
“There was information shared in social media that appeared to contain new allegations,” Fitzgerald wrote. “OIE was reaching out for additional information and encourages anyone who may have information to contact Title IX Coordinator Elizabeth Seney so that OIE may address the concerns.”
The resignation comes after four complaints of sexual harassment against Laskecki led to an Office of Institutional Equity (OIE) investigation in November 2019, which ultimately resulted in OIE deeming Lasecki did not violate the University’s sexual harassment policy. However, a separate investigation by the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), a prominent computer science research association, found that Lasecki had violated its policy against harassment, and Lasecki was banned from ACM events for at least 5 years.
An open letter addressed to the CSE department, on behalf of the CSE student body, expressed the signees’ collective disappointment on the handling of Lasecki’s case following The Daily’s investigation. The statement claims that the CSE department only informed the CSE community of the results of the OIE investigation, and never the findings of the ACM investigation. The statement argues that because of this, the CSE department has failed to protect its student population.
“The department’s actions makes us believe that it views its responsibility as being to follow OIE’s guidelines, whereas we view its responsibility as to protect students first, even when that might contradict OIE or the college,” the letter reads. “We view it as hypocritical to claim that the department prioritizes student safety and well-being when it acts otherwise when faced with a clear conflict.”
The letter questioned why the CSE department took no meaningful action against Lasecki at the same time as the School of Information revoked his appointment. The letter also suggested three steps for the CSE department: first, to offer apologies and explanations for the department’s inaction; second, to acknowledge they responded insufficiently to the allegations; and third, to provide full transparency on Lasecki’s then-upcoming tenure decision.
“We have lost faith in the department’s ability to act,” the letter reads. “We do not feel that we have safe avenues for expressing our thoughts on these matters. Every town hall so far has only resulted in more disappointment. We expect the department to step up, own its mistakes and offer concrete plans for improvement.”
The letter currently has 57 graduate student signatures, 20 community signatures and 69 anonymous signatures.
Note: This article has been updated to reflect confirmation of Lasecki’s resignation and to include comment from a U-M spokesperson regarding Seney’s outreach seeking information on new allegations.