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Professor who made students remove shirts created ‘hostile environment’, investigation finds

In a shocking investigation by the U.S. Department of Education, a professor at the Takoma/Silver Spring campus of Montgomery College in Maryland has been found guilty of creating a “hostile environment” and violating Title IX. The instructor’s actions, which involved instructing female students to remove their shirts during class, have sparked outrage and raised serious concerns about the treatment of students on campus.

According to investigators, the professor demanded that female students remove their shirts and wear only sports bras as part of a supposed “medical assessment.” Even when some students attempted to maintain their modesty by donning lab coats, the professor insisted they remove them. In a truly appalling display, he proceeded to make inappropriate comments about the students’ breasts, as confirmed in a letter from the Office of Civil Rights to the college.

It is important to note that the supposed “medical assessment” did not require any removal of clothing or involve any commentary. The professor’s actions were not only unnecessary but also highly invasive and completely inappropriate within an educational setting.

Upon receiving complaints from students in the class, Montgomery College took swift action, placing the professor on paid administrative leave and launching a formal investigation into the allegations of sexual harassment. The Title IX coordinator at the college conducted interviews with students from the professor’s class, students from another section of the same course taught by the professor, as well as the department chair and other student witnesses. The investigation confirmed that the professor’s conduct indeed created a hostile environment based on sex.

As a result, the professor has been terminated, and the student who initially filed the complaint has been duly informed of the outcome. The college has taken steps to support the affected students, offering counseling, academic assistance, and even tuition reimbursement for some. To rectify the harm caused, the college covered the costs for one student to re-enroll in the course after she had failed due to the harassment she endured.

While the investigation by the Office of Civil Rights recognized the college’s efforts to address the situation promptly and equitably, it did find a shortcoming in adequately informing the women involved in the incident that the investigation had concluded and that the professor had been terminated. In response, the OCR has mandated that Montgomery College inform all students in the class about the investigation’s findings and the subsequent termination of the professor. This measure aims to ensure transparency and to send a clear message that such behavior will not be tolerated within the institution.

Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, Catherine E. Lhamon, described the incident as “shameful” in a press release, emphasizing the need for swift and appropriate action to address the effects of the hostile environment created by the professor. Lhamon commended Montgomery College for its thorough investigation and subsequent actions taken to ensure the well-being of the affected students. She also acknowledged the college’s commitment to fulfill its obligations under Title IX, ensuring that discriminatory effects are eliminated for all students.

This disturbing incident serves as a reminder of the importance of maintaining a safe and respectful learning environment for all students. It is imperative that educational institutions uphold the principles of Title IX, actively combating sexual harassment and fostering an atmosphere conducive to growth, equality, and dignity.

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