Michigan State University has suspended Tomas Hult, a marketing professor and director of the MSU International Business Center, following complaints of sexual harassment.
A Title IX investigation cleared Hult, saying his sexual comments and inappropriate behavior didn’t violate the school’s harassment policy.
On Friday, Sarah Singer, the woman who filed the complaint against Hult made a public, impassioned plea to the Board of Trustees to fix the system that allowed such behavior on campus.
Sarah Singer, director of education abroad at the Broad College of Business, told the board at Friday’s meeting that after she filed a complaint against Hult with school’s Title IX office, investigators ultimately cleared him.
Singer told trustees the official investigation found that Hult:
“…[R]egularly hugged employees, even after repeated requests to stop. That the respondent [Hult] commented on whether my bra or breasts could conceal a fitbit device. Similarly, that the respondent told another employee her breasts did not change in size when she lost weight,” Singer told the board.
“Investigators corroborated misogynistic comments made by the respondent at a workshop in Wisconsin … [and] found credible my account of the respondent touching my upper thigh at a gala dinner in Atlanta, and making a comment about the type of ‘date’ I would be if he ‘couldn’t get me drunk.’ Investigators concluded that the respondent likely rubbed or patted my stomach, noting such behavior was consistent with a previous … report.”
Witnesses also told investigators that “when he saw attractive women, it wouldn’t be out of the ordinary for him to comment on these women physically, even to their faces.”
Ultimately, the school’s investigation found that these behaviors didn’t violate MSU’s sexual harassment policy, which states that the accused’s conduct has to be “of a sexual nature so severe, persistent, or pervasive that a reasonable person would find it unreasonably interfered with an indidvidual’s work, thus creating a hostile or abusive work environment.”
Seriously, Singer asked?
“[Do] you believe this behavior has any place on MSU’s campus?” Singer asked the trustees. “Why should the onus be on the employee … to state that they don’t want to be touched, on the head or the back or the thigh, in the course of the day’s work? Should we not expect better?”
Hult did not respond to a request for comment sent to his MSU email.
Singer appealed the investigation’s initial findings, but they were upheld in July.
Emily Guerrant, a spokeswoman for Michigan State University, says Hult was told of his suspension on September 5, before Singer made her comments to the board.
“Tomas Hult was notified via letters…that he was being suspended as director of the International Business Center; AND that he would disciplined in his role as a faculty member (although not suspended).
“Those disciplines as a faculty member include no merit increase this year (which would traditionally happen Oct. 1) and required training regarding sexual harassment prior to Dec. 31, 2019. His suspension from the International Business Center is for 12 weeks, starting Oct. 1. He is currently NOT teaching a class, but is slated to next semester at this point.”
Singer says while she’s “gratified” by Hult’s suspension from his administrative role, the bigger problem with MSU’s Title IX process still exists.
“…I continue to harbor deep concerns about the [Office of Institutional Equity] process – remember, there was a finding of no…violation in this case, and the incidents in this case spanned a decade. Improving policies around what constitutes persistent and pervasive behavior is critical, to say nothing of working to improve the culture and climate on campus.
“Not all claimants – and likely very few claimants – are in a position to advocate and appeal as I have done. No one should need to stand before the Board for MSU to find this conduct egregious.”
A federal Department of Education investigation released last week fined MSU a record $4.5 million for mishandling sexual assault and harassment on campus.
- [LLODO] Michigan state Dem pepper-sprayed, charged with DUI, resisting arrest, weapons possession: report
- [LLODO] Head of NYC’s posh Dalton School leaving at the end of 2021
- [LLODO] Chilling video captures moment a love triangle erupts in murder, revenge in NYC
- [LLODO] NYPD officers hit with Molotov cocktail and liquid chemical in face, police say
- [LLODO] California group files federal civil rights complaint over San Diego school district’s ‘racist’ teachings
- [LLODO] Podcast helped in hunt for 1996 killer of California student
- [LLODO] National weather forecast: Parts of Northeast could see more than a foot of snow
- [LLODO] Cuomo boasts he ‘invented’ NYS-scented hand sanitizer, faces no questions over scandals
- [LLODO] Teacher who decried NYC school’s ‘indoctrination’ put on remote work: ‘Feels like punishment’