A University of Michigan computer science professor intends to resign after sexual harassment allegations surfaced regarding his behavior with many female graduate students at off-site conferences, on-campus and off-campus.
The case of Prof. Walter Lasecki not only highlights the inappropriate and illegal behavior among managers and supervisors, but also the bumbling responses and delayed actions made by higher-ups in any organization. The University of Michigan situation shows that many institutions and companies likely need major policy overhauls when addressing sexual harassment in the workplace.
Two different conclusions
The university announced in late May of Lesecki’s resignation scheduled for Aug. 30. More than 20 women accused him of unwanted advances and groping. Two separate investigations into Lesecki’s behavior reached different conclusions.
An investigation led by the university disclosed that Lesecki did not violate the school’s sexual harassment policy. However, the Association for Computer Machinery (ACM) — a nonprofit that promotes computer science education – determined that Lasecki violated its “policy against harassment.” The ACM barred Lasecki from association events for five years.
Michael Wellman, chairman of the University of Michigan’s admitted that he had made mistakes related to Lasecki’s case, noting the lack of transparency. Wellman said he failed to:
- Pursue a more proactive approach when monitoring student interactions with Lasecki.
- Disclose any actions taken regarding the professor’s dealings with the students.
- Promptly and more actively alert the department’s faculty regarding how to restore trust and confidence among them.
Sexual harassment cases should always be taken seriously. Victims must be heard when harassed by people in power. And organizations must take prompt action to ensure such behavior does not surface again.