Saturday, September 19, 2015

If you thought the U's aerial drone was strange, wait until you hear about the "semi-nude" modeling

Sexual harassment is "an everyday experience for many women in workplaces across Minnesota and the nation," President Kaler says. I get it. But I still have a question. Why did a U gymnastics coach need a "semi-nude model"?

The Pioneer Press is reporting that the U has paid out $449,500 in sexual harassment settlements over the past five years, including $250,000 to a student-athlete who did "semi-nude" modeling for gymnastics coach Jim Stephenson. According to The Pioneer Press: "The gymnast told the Minnesota Department of Human Rights that she modeled for Jim Stephenson seven to 10 times over two years, beginning soon after she arrived at the U in 2011. 'The modeling included semi-nude attire, provocative poses and inappropriate touching,' she wrote in August 2014. 'I was extremely uncomfortable from the outset but conceded at his direction.'"

That's the creepy part. Here's the familiar part. When the student complained, she was punished by Stephenson'w wife, Meg Stephenson, who happened to be the head gymnastics coach. 

This seems to be the common thread with many of the alarming stories that have emerged at the U. If you raise your voice to protest, you will face retaliation.

Meg Stephenson resigned last year, taking along $98,972 in severance pay. But the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights is still investigating the U and the gymnastic program for sexual harassment. 

For background on The Pioneer Press story, have a look at this report in the Star Tribune from last year.

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