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Professor Accused of Sexual Misconduct Chased Out of Classroom

A group of protesters at the University of Texas at Austin interrupted a class to demand the resignation of a professor accused of sexual misconduct.

A video showed a group of students chasing a professor out of his classroom after calling for him to resign for his history of alleged sexual misconduct. 

“We stand alongside other enraged women who are disgusted by your actions towards students,” a student said in the video. “You, as a professor of philosophy, of ethics, do not belong to be at the front. You, who have solicited students for nudes, who has been dismissed by [the University of Texas at Austin] in 2017.”

Professor Sahotra Sarkar was suspended from the University of Texas Austin in 2017 after students accused him of asking for nude pictures, inviting them to swim with him at nude beaches, and holding school-related meetings at bars. Sarkar initially denied the allegations, but reportedly admitted in a memo to school officials that he talked about one of the students in the complaint potentially posing for nude photos in exchange for payment. 

Students from a group called “Fire The Abusers,” have held rallies to protest his current employment as well as the employment of other professors with a history of misconduct.

“You have no business being here,” the protester goes on to say. “We’re here to tell you that sexual predators and abusers must be held accountable. For too long the voices of students on this campus have been silenced and ignored. Predatory professors like you need to be confronted and held accountable for their impulsive misconduct towards students.”

UT-Austin responded to the video of students protesting in a statement saying, “The university respects students’ freedom of speech and right to demonstrate, but speech cannot impede the mission of the university. As outlined in the Institutional Rules on Student Services and Activities, ‘no speech, expression, or assembly may be conducted in a way that disrupts or interferes with any teaching, research, administration, function of the University, or other authorized activities on the campus.’ Students involved in such disruptions could be subject to disciplinary action.”  

A rising number of reports of sexual misconduct and inappropriate relationships between students and professors have been reported at UT-Austin over the years. During the 2012-2013 academic year, 69 complaints were filed. The complaints skyrocketed to 445 in the 2016-2017 academic year. Some cases resulted in professors and staff resigning, while others were given partial restrictions. 

A former PhD student wrote in the Arkansas International about her admitted year-long relationship in 2011-2012 with tenured professor Coleman Hutchison. She wrote that Hutchinson was manipulative and sexually harassed her when she felt vulnerable. Because of the anger she said she felt, she claims to have turned down a postdoctoral position at UT-Austin that may have eventually led to a tenured position. After an investigation by UT, Hutchinson was allowed to continue to teach, but with restrictions. 

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