Investigation underway of volleyball game harassment allegations
Published: Wednesday, October 3, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, October 3, 2012 02:10
An attorney hired by the Office of Equal Opportunity (OEO) is conducting an external investigation of allegations that Tufts students yelled racist and sexist insults at players during a varsity women’s volleyball game between Tufts and Smith College last month.
The OEO launched the investigation in response to a complaint that was filed the day after the Sept. 21 game through a reporting mechanism on the OEO website, according to OEO Director Jill Zellmer.
In addition to the complaint, an account of the incident in the form of an op-ed by junior Rose Barrett published in the Daily on Sept. 25 also detailed allegations of offensive speech at the game.
The attorney hired by the OEO, Djuna Perkins, specializes in cases of sexual harassment and discrimination. Since Saturday, she has been interviewing Tufts students, faculty and staff who may have information regarding the allegations, Zellmer said.
Zellmer said the OEO decided to hire an external consultant, a frequent practice in the OEO, because of the seriousness of the allegations and because they involved students from another university.
“We take those things very seriously because it just adds another level of liability if these things are found to be true,” Zellmer said.
Perkins will compile a report to submit to the OEO, which will then be handled by the appropriate staff or administrators.
When the report will be completed has yet to be determined.
“It depends on how long it takes to identify the individuals who may have made these comments,” Zellmer said.
Dean of Student Affairs Bruce Reitman said that, depending on the investigation’s findings, action could either be taken by the Office of Student Affairs, the Athletics Department or the Committee on Student Life.
“There are a bunch of different ways that it could go depending on what they are able to determine happened at the game,” he said.
Zellmer said students have historically underutilized the OEO’s online complaint filing system.
“This is an excellent way for people to file if they don’t want to be known and if they want to notify the university that things have gone on that they don’t like or want fixed with respect to sexual misconduct and discrimination or harassment allegations,” she said.