The Runaround: What it's like to file a bias report at the University

Monday, April 16, 2018 - 11:20pm

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Roseanne Chao/Daily

Editor's note: both female students’ statements were kept anonymous for privacy concerns.

This LSA senior is a model University of Michigan student.

Raised in a family of educators, she is beyond attentive in class, constantly present during office hours and dedicates respect to her teachers — she is someone who cares deeply about how she earns her grade in a class. She said she is also an anxious student, to the point of being a perfectionist.

It felt like it was these traits, she said, that were taken advantage of by her GSI when he harassed her and several other female students in her Communications class. But what is also comes across surprising to the LSA senior, along with others, is the lack of follow-up from the administration after they spoke about their experiences.

It was the first semester of her junior year in the 2016 fall semester and she was taking a class with Assistant Professor Muzammil Hussain. After a particularly difficult exam and an upcoming project, the LSA senior and her group were directed to meet with their graduate student instructor, Naz Khan. Khan was also a law school student.

Sitting in Espresso Royale after class, Khan and the group talked for two hours, the LSA senior said, and nothing was related to class. When she said she needed dinner, he offered to take them to a restaurant so they could talk about the project they had not touched on enough. The senior and her female group member wondered if that was even allowed. She said he assured them it was normal for student conferences.

There was still no discussion of the class. He began talking about past relationships.

She said he asked a question that implied what the potential consequences of having a sexual relationship with a student would be.

“I literally was like, ‘I cannot believe you just said that,’” she said. “And he was like, ‘No, no, no, I don't have someone in mind.’ He was sitting next to me and I was like, I can't even look at him right now.”

She recalled some of the inappropriate dialogue of that night.  

“Oh my God … this was the worst part,” she said. “And he said something like, ‘I think about ass and titties all the time.’ And my friend and I were like, ‘I'm sorry?’ I literally was like, jaw-dropped, like, I can't even believe these words are coming out of your mouth. And he just laughed and he was, like, very much treating us like we were in no way students.”

At the end of the dinner, the girls tried to pay, but he took the bill. She said she felt compelled to stay because she felt like her grade was in question.

“I was having this horrible internal conflict knowing, like, this is incredibly wrong,” she said. “And yet he's totally using that because he knows that that would work (with someone like me). I was very aware of the fact that, like, there was some manipulation and I was falling for it … That was the weirdest part.”

After the dinner, she said she had other homework and was going to another restaurant to work on it. The GSI continued the conversation — following the girls there.

“I shouldn't care about more an A than I care about my agency and yet it was still enough to get me to stay there,” she said.  

Later that night, the LSA senior said she had to go home. Despite her insistence she could walk alone, she said the GSI walked her to her apartment building. Once at her apartment, she said he kept trying to stall. She said once she checked her phone, she realized it was dead.

“I didn't expect to be as afraid of that as I was in that moment,” she said. “Like, so then I was like really checking my watch. And he was like, ‘Stop checking your watch’ … And then I was at one point I literally yelled at him, I was like, ‘No, stop. I have to go upstairs, I have to go to bed, I have registration for classes at 8:00 a.m., I need to go to bed,’ and he like laughed and was like, ‘Fine, fine.’”

But before she could go up, the GSI pulled up Facebook and showed her pictures of a girl in her discussion section.

“He was like, ‘I mean, she's decent in class but look how pretty she looks in there,’” she said. “He was like, ‘Yeah, I looked at all of you on Facebook before.’”

She further explained that he knew looking for students “would be a problem,” according to the LSA senior. She said he told her that he knew she was in a sorority and that he had to “watch out for you guys.”

The LSA senior, at this point, saw someone leave her building and she immediately ran in, saying goodbye. In her apartment, she checked the time. 1:20 a.m.

She received several texts from him (Khan had his students text him to schedule office hours).

“I just want to stop communicating,” she said. “But in my head I also had the light again, like he could (hurt my grade). He (implied to me) a million times tonight, ‘I have entire authority over your whole grade.’”

Later, he texted her that he just graded her exam and that she did very well. The text read, “Kind of makes me think you motherfuckers listen to my rants.”

The LSA senior said she wanted to call her mom, but didn’t want her mother to get angry at her for not walking away.

In the morning, she said she woke up to another text from him, this time reminding her to register for classes and that he could grab dinner with them again.

She said she missed discussion that day and met with Hussain, the class professor. Her email referenced another recently filed student complaint against Khan.

In emails obtained by The Daily, she wrote, “This has been weighing on me for about 1.5 weeks now, and I know some sort of action is already underway, but I would really like to meet with you to talk about my experience with Naz.”

She said during her discussion with Hussain, he was visibly upset with her story even before she discussed how Khan’s behavior veered towards inappropriate behavior. She said she was pleased how supportive he was in the process.

She said she also met with Title IX coordinators, including Pamela Heatlie, associate vice provost for Academic and Faculty Affairs, and Alexandra Matish, associate director of Academic Human Resources. The LSA senior said during her meeting with the officers—in which she recounted her experiences rather than filing a formal report— they appeared to be more concerned with how Khan’s actions violated GSI academic policy rather than the harassment. She said they asked more questions about his academic behavior.

“They seemed to be more upset about the schoolwork,” she said.

She also explained she did not get to tell her whole story — though she did send them a full written draft of her experience. She clarified OIE staff did not appear intentionally uninterested in her story, but were more concerned about the details and the timeline of that night.

“They are not counselors. It didn’t shock me,” she said, further saying that they were welcoming in their the conversation. At that point, the LSA senior said she had told her story so many times, she wasn’t as anxious.  

She didn’t follow up with the coordinators she spoke with, she said, but she did not get an update either. Khan did not return as a GSI in the last few days of class. However, the LSA senior said she didn’t expect Khan to still be around following her complaint.

“I passed him on the street this year and had a mini-panic attack, like, in the 30 seconds that we passed each other … But he didn't say anything to me,” she said. “I don't even know if he recognized who it was, but I called my friend and she was like ‘Yes, he’s still around and I see him at the gym all the time,’ so I don't go to the IM Building (Intramural Sports Building) because I am really not trying to run into him in any other circumstances.”

As it turns out, a very similar story was happening to her classmate.

***

Earlier this semester, the University released its 2017 report on prohibited student conduct, finding a 40 percent increase in reported misconduct from the previous year. The Office for Institutional Equity received 281 reports and conducted 28 investigations.

The OIE concluded after 28 investigations that eight policy violations occurred over the past year. The cases comprised five sexual assaults, two incidents of stalking and a violation of interim measures. The report stated the OIE carried out disciplinary action for these violations, including educational measures, restriction, suspension and expulsion.

University spokesman Rick Fitzgerald said though there is no way to determine a definitive cause for the increase in reports but that an increase isn’t inherently negative — an increase can signify heightened support for survivors and more awareness of the University’s system for investigating assault.

“Reports go up each year, but that is possibly a good sign,” Fitzgerald said in an interview with The Daily from January.

In a Februrary interview with The Daily, Heatlie commented on the proportion of appeals cases.

“I don’t know what normal would be under these circumstances,” Heatlie said. “Unlike, for example, a court system where only the party doesn’t appeal. In our system, either system can appeal.”

She said reasons why many people may not report incidents they experience vary on a case-by-case basis.

It’s been a year since Heatlie was hired as a Title IX coordinator. She previously worked as the associate director in the OIE and before that, she was a general assistant counsel at Oakland University.

Heatlie was previously embroiled in a 2000 scandal at the University of Vermont, where hockey players were partaking in severe hazing. The Vermont Attorney General criticized the administration’s handling of the investigation. Heatlie was part of the investigative team.

When asked who was responsible for UVM’s missteps, General William Sorrell said, “I’m not sure where the buck stops. Attorney (Pamela) Heatlie was in charge of the investigation … Attorney Heatlie could have asked to do more.”

***

She didn’t think much of texting Khan for office hours. He had put it on the board during discussion for everyone to reach out.

When they met up, the second student in Hussain’s lecture — also an LSA senior — was interested in the conversation and saw opportunity for academic guidance and reference. The conversation drifted to her family, in a little more than friendly manner. Then a blonde woman walked into the coffee shop.

“He had said something like, ‘You know what? Like I'm not attracted to blondes,’” she said. “And I was like, ‘Why?’ Like it had nothing to do with the context because I remember being like super, super, like, shocked by that. And he was like, ‘Yeah, I mean I think they all look the same.’”

Khan said he liked brunettes better. This LSA senior is a brunette.

She said it was hard for her to rebuke him: he was a source of information for many students and offered help on exams. Khan even told her he would help her with her internship applications. Again, office hours turned into personal conversation.

“He said that he and Hussain, the professor, go way back,” she said. “I felt like I couldn’t approach the professor at one point because if they’re so close, it’d be this weird thing for me to be like, ‘Hey, your good friend … is doing these things and it’s making me feel uncomfortable.’”

The LSA senior provided The Daily screenshots of some of his text conversations with her. She said he regularly demonstrated the power he had over her grades, constantly asking her if he should fail students. She said he also said that he gave A grades easily.

Khan: So there is a person in your section that never turns up, lies, and does shit on exams. Shall i give her an F?

Khan: there are some students who god bless them are working hard for a B

Khan: they turn up, they ask questions, they care

Khan: and this rich little piece of shit, is getting a boost from the curve and doesn’t pitch up

He bought her a coffee mug for her birthday.

Khan: You in AA?

Khan: I want to hand over the coffee mug.

From LSA senior: I am yes but I have a very busy day today — meetings and such

Khan: It takes 2 seconds to hand over the mug.

“And I just feel like at that point you feel indebted,” she said.

Khan: I’m fucked — need someone to carry me home.

LSA senior: I thought you didn’t drink

Khan: Gym.

Khan: I don’t drink

Khan: I am slowly starting to train like an animal again

Khan: But now I can’t move

He also included her and three other girls in a group chat, calling them his favorite people and expecting them to be the best group.

“I’m not saying anything about me, but … you could tell he liked them in a different way than, like, just having them be his students,” the LSA senior said

Eventually, one of the girls in Khan’s “group” talked to Hussain, who contacted her. She emailed back with screenshots of their text messaging conversation as well as her time during office hours.

She said it turned out that Hussain and Khan were not as close as the graduate student alleged.

“(Hussain and Khan) didn't know each other at all before class,” she said. “I thought that that was such a power move … I refuse to believe that he was doing any of it unintentionally.”

In emails obtained by The Daily, Hussain, along with Heatlie and Communications Department Chair Nojin Kwak, all vowed to conduct an investigation.

“...Thank you for taking the time, and having the courage, to raise and share your concerns about your interactions with the GSI -- I am deeply grateful that you have reached out and spoken up,” Hussain wrote. “Please know that I notified our leadership team as soon as I received these concerns, and with their guidance, several administrative measures have been enacted for the safety and equity of my students while the OIE investigates these concerns.”

Kwak sent her a list of resources. She followed up and was told the investigation would be happening. That was the last time the LSA senior said she heard from them.

“Yeah, he obviously (disappeared) from my class so I know that they acted in that way, but I had no idea what happened and, like, they did not follow up with me at all,” she said. “Like a person in power over these kids in your class who’s supposed to be, like, teaching us and we're supposed to learn from this person who they've trusted enough like we have no, we have no choice but to trust him and he's abusing his power and I hear nothing from the University.”

The LSA senior says she is sure he knows she was one of the students who spoke up about him.

“So I was terrified whenever I saw him on campus (after) that class,” she said. “I've seen him in the Reading Room (at the Law Library) at one point and I (made sure I was the) the last one to leave. I don't think (the administration) handled it at all. Like they're condemning him saying that they're going to do something but there was no promise that I'm going to know what happens.”

“I just have to forget about it,” she added. “I had to just stop caring because if I cared then I wasn't getting anywhere because nobody would, like, talk to me or contact me.”

This LSA senior said she also had negative experiences with Heatlie when she invited her to speak at her professional fraternity. The experience caused a huge backlash in the fraternity.

“It was very polarizing,” she said, explaining how Heatlie in her speech phrased many things about the sexual harassment investigation process in a way that felt like she was acting out of self-interest. She explained that students in her organization were upset the Title IX discussion did not seem to be centered on their well-being but rather University policy. She also added students were upset trigger warnings were not respected as well.

***

Khan is currently listed as a political science and communications GSI on MCommunity. He currently has alumni status and is no longer a student at the University

Fitzgerald explained in a February interview with The Daily judging a GSI as a student or as an employee is dependent on the situation. Both employee and student policies apply, he said, but clarifies that there is not a significant difference. Students are subject to the Student Sexual Misconduct Policy, which faculty and staff must follow the University’s Standard Practice Guide and sexual harassment policy.

“And I don't think there is a huge difference between (being judged as a GSI rather than an employee,” Fitzgerald said. “You know, harassment is not something we condone on our campus and they are students and in that regard you know it's an area where it could be protected by (the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974) as student records as well. It's hard to say without looking at specifics, which we can't do unfortunately.”

This month, in an email, Fitzgerald clarified this process of evaluating harassment by a GSI.

“If a complaint is received that pertains to the person's role as a graduate student, the complaint is pursued subject to the student policy,” Fitzgerald wrote. “If the complaint pertains to the person's role as an employee, it is pursued subject to the employee policy outline in SPG 201.89.

The process of conduct investigations also includes interviewing both parties and any witnesses. Consequences vary when complaints reach the Office of Student Conflict Resolution, from losing additional academic opportunities to expulsion. Investigators convey their personal findings, but Heatlie makes the ultimate decision if someone is responsible for the misconduct.

Could a GSI with past misconduct with students be hired by another department? Fitzgerald said it was up to the hiring process and “(departments) certainly could (hire someone with or without looking into their background).”

“The hiring is done on so many different levels by so many different individual departments,” Fitzgerald said. “So it could be individual professors.”

The second LSA senior was surprised Khan was still attending the University of Michigan law school. Fitzgerald said cases exist where the GSI’s employment is more detached from their position as students.

“It’s possible that their actions as a GSI in another unit has no bearing at all on their academic standing,” Fitzgerald added.

Rackham student Luis Flores, communications co-chair of the Graduate Employees’ Organization, explained that as an organization, GEO would advise the graduate student on best options if their contract were in question. He also added a handful of cases of harassment go through the union, as most go through OIE exclusively.

The Daily reached out to Sarah Zearfoss, senior assistant dean of the Law School, for comment. She directed The Daily to Deputy General Counsel Patty Petrowski. Petrowski directed The Daily to Fitzgerald.

The Daily also reached out to Kwak, who was included in the emails between the students and Heatlie. Kwak directed The Daily to the Office of Public Affairs and Internal Communications. The Department of Political Science did as well. OIE and Heatlie directed The Daily to Fitzgerald when asked about the process of evaluating GSI harassment claims.

Hussain is currently on research leave and did not respond to an email request for comment. Khan did not respond to an email request for a statement or interview. The Daily attempted to retrieve documents about the case through the Freedom of Information Act. The FOIA request was denied on account of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act.

The second LSA senior ultimately felt left behind with the University’s lack of response to her case.

“Like, we don't have autonomy to say yes on this campus or like in general as women,” she said. “It sucks that Michigan does not see that or doesn't care … because they're hiring employees that do this stuff.”

She recently followed up with Heatlie to receive an update on the case but did not get a reply.

***

Faculty Harassment

University lecturer Emily Lawsin — who primarily teaches Asian/Pacific Islander American studies — is currently under review by the University. Lawsin claims the University has been trying to dismiss her for her outward criticism of how it has been dealing with diversity. She states the University has actively created a hostile environment for outspoken lecturers of color.

Among many things, Lawsin and her husband Prof. Scott Kurashige, former director of A/PIA studies, had inconsistent investigations, reviews and salary disputes, where Kurashige said he was making the minimum despite his credentials. Currently the two are engaged in a lawsuit with the University over racial bias and hostility in the American Culture Department.

According to their lawsuit materials obtained by The Daily, “Heatlie also dismissed Plaintiff’s (Kurashige) concern that his prior complaints regarding American Culture and A/PIA Studies had been ignored by LSA Dean Martin and Vice Provost Sellers, who oversees OIE. Heatlie stated that she and her co-investigator, without interviewing Plaintiff Kurashige, appeared to have sufficient ‘information that allows us to reach conclusions.’ ”

The statement went on to allege Kurashige felt like Heatlie was acting in the University’s interest, rather than as a neutral investigator by “rubber-stamping the experience discriminatory and retaliatory conduct and omissions.”

In an interview, Kurashige further explained his dissatisfaction with the University’s handling of his and Lawsin’s case, including the actions of LSA Dean Andrew Martin.

“He said he would meet with me,” Kurashige said. “He said, ‘Send me a report and I will meet with you confidentially.’ He never met with me and two weeks later, roughly, I got a form letter basically saying the University will make no attempt to retain you.”

Kurashige said he then went to Chief Diversity Officer Robert Sellers, vice provost for Equity and Inclusion. While Sellers made no promises, Kurashige said Sellers told him he would look into salary equity reviews and find out why he would not get a retention offer. He said he did not hear from Sellers again.

“And again, it's like very clear that once he got clued into the fact that I was, for whatever reason, someone they wanted to get rid of, he was just going to look the other way,” Kurashige said.

Kurashige said he experienced a constructive termination, where the University created such an environment that it pressured him to leave. Kurashige attempted to report this to former OIE Director Anthony Walesby but was told that since he no longer worked for the University, he was not able to file anything.

“So I was always afraid to report it while I was still working, as many people do, feared retaliation,” Kurashige said. “That's what I even told him — I feared retaliation, but the then-director said that he was no longer an employee.” However, Kurashige found out later he does not actually have to be an employee to file a complaint.

Kurashige said he felt mislead multiple times, including being talked out of filing a complaint with Walesby saying that there may not be a lot the University can do.

Years later, when learning Heatlie was conducting an investigation into the American Culture Department, he asked her who was commissioning the report.

“She just gave me the run around and it just made it very, very clear that they just weren't interested in a thorough investigation,” he said.

He also felt frustrated by being left in the dark multiple times, especially having his records kept away from him until he issued a FOIA.

Kurashige said he was confused by why the University selected Heatlie as a Title IX coordinator, especially after her stint at the University of Vermont. He also took issue with her work at a Title IX compliance consultancy firm.

“They actually boast in her bio that no University of Michigan victim of sexual assault or discrimination has ever successfully (sued) the University,” Kurashige said. “I mean, that office is supposed to be impartial and neutral. Why are they promoting her as if she's like the defense lawyer for the University?”

Lawsin is currently having similar problems, saying that she consistently felt like she was having her confidentiality violated.

“They say in their website and in their material and even when you meet with them, that they're neutral but I found that they're not neutral at all … before I had even filed an official complaint, I even wrote up a complaint with (OIE), the investigator went directly to my department chair,” Lawsin said.

“I’ve worked here so long,” she said. “I had seen generations come through the door and graduate and go on to do incredible, incredible work in the community and in academia and we help build agents from American studies. I want to see it succeed. I want the University to be up front about the challenges and the cover-ups that happen.”

The Daily reached out to the University for a statement on Lawsin’s and Kurashige’s lawsuits and situations. The University declined to answer out of respect for Lawsin’s privacy.  

***

Cultural Harassment

Music, Theatre & Dance senior Spencer Haney, who goes by the pronouns they/them/theirs, has also felt dissatisfaction dealing with the University about conflicts that have risen in the classroom.

They were a sophomore then, performing in their bi-annual showcase concert. Donning red eyeshadow and clothes with a partner wearing blue, Performing Arts Technology prof. Stephen Rush approached them afterwards. During the conversation, the professor said Haney and their partner looked like “Malaysian concubines.”

“After he made that comment, I kind of froze,” Haney said, explaining they were not sure what the connotation of what the comment was or if it were a racial bias. “I didn’t know what to think about it.”

Haney is multiracial, with Japanese family in their background. They said they thought about the East Asian women in their life, their grandmother, and what her experience living in the United States must have been like.

Haney said they didn’t do anything until their junior year last year, when they told other students who had the similar grievances and experiences of microaggression and tokenization with the professor and with the lack of representation for students of color in the Department of Performing Arts Technology. They said it was especially worrying since electronic music derives heavily from Black musicians and musicians of color.

They created a document, obtained by The Daily, detailing their frustrations with the department.

“I find that certain faculty have self-proclaimed themselves to be ‘woke,’ thus presenting a serious issue — they have developed the mindset that they can say or do whatever they want because they understand what they are saying is wrong,” one student wrote anonymously in the testimonials. “Professors in the PAT Department have made sexist and racist jokes to me and followed it with laughter, implying that it’s ‘just a joke,’ and, ‘I know this is wrong, so I can say it.’”

They were directed to SMTD Interim Dean Melody Racine and Freyja Harris, chief diversity and inclusion officer for SMTD.

“(Racine) said, ‘I am so sorry you are having these experiences,’ which is, like, the line,” Haney recalled. One of the others things Racine pointed out during the discussion, Haney said, was the professor was definitely teaching things outside of his curriculum.

“(She said things like), ‘You can count on me, I'm going to get back to you,’” Haney said. “Something along the lines of, ‘We're going to work this out.’” When they asked if they should follow up with her, she said to trust that she will get back to them.

“She never followed up about this incident to (anyone in the group),” they said. “And then I withdrew from his (Rush’s) class.”

The following year, now a senior, Haney was contacted by a past OIE employee to discuss the same professor.

Racine wrote in an email to The Daily the interaction was between the student and the professor.

“An apology was made by Prof. Rush to the student in question, and it was accepted,” she wrote. “The situation has been resolved, and it served as a trenchant teaching moment. SMTD will continue to strive across all areas of the school to create a wholly inclusive environment while also continuing with our excellent efforts to further diversify our faculty and student body.”

Haney said in a later comment to the Daily that they did not actually accept Rush's apology during that townhall. 

Music, Theatre & Dance alum Mari Martinez created a concert called Resonance, celebrating female and non-binary musicians. In the concert that was put together after Martinez graduated, Haney and several other PAT students called upon the administration to promote women and faculty of color in PAT staff as seen in a video obtained by The Daily. Just before they began their performance, Haney also told the crowd about their experience with the professor’s remarks. Haney said a few professors came up to them to sympathize with their experience, but ultimately felt like nothing really happened. Later, the school held a town hall meeting on race.

Haney said the chair of their department told them the professor had been in meetings about the incident. Like the LSA seniors above, Haney said they wanted some kind of acknowledgment something was being done by University administrators. They said they felt like faculty they were speaking to did not want to cause a conflict.

“That was supposed to be the resolution, but no one contacted us about it,” they said. “And if we do have an all-white faculty and we do have like a really diverse body, this stuff is going to happen. What does accountability look like for students? … I don’t want accountability to look like that.”

Rush said he had publicly apologized to Haney for what he acknowledged as an “unfortunate and insensitive remark.”

“I think this is the best model for progress on this issue – respectful confrontation, timely discussion, and transparent reconciliation,” Rush wrote in an email to The Daily.

Rush also added the Department of Performing Arts Technology is committed to openness and diversity, speaking as one of the professors currently working on the program’s inclusion initiatives. He wrote that he actively makes efforts to make his academics and work as multicultural and complex as possible.  

We can say with honesty and integrity that DEI considerations are integral to each and every decision we make as a department,” Rush wrote. “This includes curriculum and recruitment of faculty and students, with a strong focus on attracting underrepresented minorities (in society and in the field).”

Rush said he also has been in extensive conversations with the administration since the incident.

Martinez said while the statement made by the students put their invited guest speaker in an uncomfortable spot, she was ultimately a little proud of the students displaying their concerns in a public venue.

Martinez is one of the few Hispanic and Latinx students in the Music, Theatre & Dance School—the unit’s 2015 total tallied only 60 students. She said being a person of color in the PAT department was lonely. She recalled an experience where she spoke with her fellow Black classmate who said she was the only friend he has in the PAT program because it was so hard to connect with other white students.

Martinez is a non-traditional student, completing her bachelor’s degree at a later age. She said this allowed her to feel more comfortable calling professors and administrators out when she feels like there has been misconduct.

She also said her professor, when Martinez was still in the University in 2016, often talked about other cultures and religions, like Islam, when she felt like he did not have the authority to do so.

With the accumulation of remarks made by the professor and her feelings of tokenization in the mostly-white program, her supervisors sent her to the Office of the Ombuds, where students can confidentially discuss their concerns about University functions to institutionally impartial advocates.

Martinez said she had a positive experience with Ombuds staff member Tom Lehker, who gave her space to to be emotional in front of him. She said Laker had greatly helped her to direct her to several resources.

“I broke down crying, I was so emotional,” Martinez said. “But he was 100 percent supportive” Martinez explained he helped her start conversations with other employees in SMTD

Martinez said had emailed the Dean of Students as well as the PAT chair about her concerns. When speaking to the PAT chair, he said they wanted to meet with her and talk to her again.

“I was sure that something was going that they weren't telling us on a regular basis, that something was happening behind-the-scenes,” Martinez said. “They were like, ‘Yeah she would probably want to talk to you again.’ I never heard from anybody again.”

Days later, the professor with whom she has grievances won an award given to him by the department.

“I just gave up at that point,” Martinez said. “It was that combined with all of these other conversations about how it was like this big push for diversity, inclusion but...nobody is really willing to sit down and hold people accountable. And it felt like ... He wasn't held accountable. And so it was like well ... Why keep going? … Why bother?”

Haney clarifies they think highly of Harris. Martinez said she wasn’t sure what the capacity of the school’s DEI coordinator was, but she believed her experience with Harris was helpful.

Harris did not respond at the time of this article’s publication.

Martinez said she does not have issues with most administrators and believes SMTD professors and faculty do care about diversity, but need to hire someone to facilitate difficult conversations.

“Until those deep rooted issues get addressed, there isn't going to be much change, having committees and trying to have open sessions where students can speak are not helpful and facilitate very little change,” Martinez wrote later in an email. “The issue is bigger than the School of Music or one department, the issue begins with those who are in charge, and if they lack the skill set to understand how these systemic issues really need to be changed then they need to get someone in those positions who actually know, or have serious ideas of how to implement those changes. They also have to be willing to put money behind those actions.”

The Michigan Daily will continue to investigative Title IX and other bias incidents students may experience in an article to be published next semester.

This article was updated with an additional comment by Haney.