In light of the recent finding that University of Illinois law professor Jay Kesan violated the university’s code of conduct and policies prohibiting sexual assault, we, the undersigned executive members of the Illinois Student Government, fully condemn the actions of Mr. Kesan. We stand in solidarity with survivors. In an investigation conducted by the Office of Diversity, Equity and Access which began in 2015, three survivors in addition to 38 witnesses have come forth to speak about their experiences interacting with Mr. Kesan. However, the report failed to conclude that Mr. Kesan’s actions constitute sexual harassment or sexual misconduct in light of the University’s high standards of action. Finally, the report recommended additional training and information provided to all faculty and staff on reporting sexual misconduct, as well as individual sexual harassment training and professional coaching for Mr. Kesan himself. The report will be filed on his permanent record.
We express our disappointment at this lack of definitive disciplinary actions on the part of the University. The #MeToo movement has provided survivors of sexual assault and harassment with a platform to share their stories and break down cycles of abuse. The fact that the investigative report fell short of concluding Mr. Kesan’s actions as constituting sexual harassment or misconduct is frustrating. Retaining Mr. Kesan in his capacity as a tenured professor of law is a grave insult to anyone who has ever experienced sexual harassment or assault. We firmly support the Student Bar Association’s call for Mr. Kesan’s voluntary resignation from his position as a professor of law, and also we request that he be placed on a leave of absence effective immediately.
To anybody who is a survivor of sexual assault or harassment: We believe you. You are not alone. The University provides many resources for survivors. On-campus, the Women’s Resources Center, located at 616 E Green Street, Suite 202 is staffed with two confidential advocates. Off-campus, confidential advocates are available at Courage Connection (877) 384-4390 as well as the Rape Advocacy, Counseling, & Education Services (RACES) Hotline (877) 236-3727. In addition, confidential support can be found at the Counseling Center (217) 333-3704 as well as McKinley Health Center (217) 333-2705.
We urge the University to take a more firm stance against perpetrators of sexual assault. If anyone in the campus community has any concerns, please reach out to us, and we welcome all concerned members of our campus community to attend our general meetings on Wednesday at 7:00 PM in the Illini Union Pine Lounge.
Walter Lindwall, Student Body President
Alice Zheng, Student Body Vice President