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University of Rochester professor under fire

by Emma Misiaszek - Photo Editor
Tue, Sep 26th 2017 11:00 pm

At midnight on Thursday, Sept. 14, University of Rochester student Lindsay Wrobel began her hunger strike.

Florian Jaeger, Assistant Professor of Brain and Cognitive Sciences at the University of Rochester, has had eleven women make sexual harassment allegations against him in an EEOC complaint filed against the university this past August.

In regard to the allegations made in the EEOC complaint, University officials issued the statement “Through two separate investigation...no violation of the law or University policy was found.”

After multiple complaints were made against the university for not properly handling the situation, a large group of students held a protest Wednesday Sept. 12. to bring attention to the matter.

Written in chalk on the pavement were the words “BCS Department is not safe for women” and “Florian Jaeger is gone” as students gathered in front of the library to hear Lindsay Wrobel and graduate student Jenna Register speak.  

“I am an [University of Rochester] alumni and founder of a company for kids in STEM,” Register, a staff member in the Brain and Cognitive Sciences department stated. “I'm a scientist and close with the several of the complainants, and I knew I could use my ‘lesser’ position as staff [opposed to faculty] to coordinate with students.”

University of Rochester students marched through the campus baring signs and yelling chants calling for Jaeger’s termination.

But the scandal didn’t begin with the EEOC complaint filed Aug. 30. In 2016 Dr. Richard Aslin, the founding director of the University’s Baby Lab within the Brain and Cognitive Sciences Department filed complaints with the University about Jaeger’s inappropriate behavior.

After no action was taken and he was ostracized by the university, Aslin, who had been a professor at the university for 32 years, resigned.

Sarah Elderkin, an undergraduate research assistant in the Brain and Cognitive Sciences Department stated, “I was in Jaeger’s course right around the time that Dr. Aslin left the university. He and Dr. Kidd were the professors who ran the Rochester Baby Lab and Rochester Kid Lab, where I worked as an undergraduate research assistant. I didn’t know why Dr. Aslin left…I didn’t know anything, really, except for the warning that I probably had nothing to worry about, but that I should avoid being alone with him [Jaeger].”

After six days without eating, hospital scares and some breakdowns, Worbel ended her hunger strike after learning Jaeger had been put on administrative leave.

“We were hoping for more radical action…” Register said, “Lindsay is off of her hunger strike, but we are by no means done.”

The University hired one of the country’s most prominent lawyers, Mary Jo White, to lead a new investigation into the allegations made against Jaeger and hopes that the investigation will be completed by Dec. 31.

As the new investigation is put underway by Mary Jo White and a committee of five university trustees, whom are already being criticized by students and faculty for having special interests, the fate of Associate Professor Florian T. Jaeger will be unknown until the investigation is completed.


 

“This is one case in one department at one university. This happens everywhere all the time” Elderkin said, “We still have a long way to go, and it’s important that we don’t stop now.”

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