Cal Poly Humboldt Title IX case makes students uncomfortable

After a USA TODAY story came out about John Lee, a Cal Poly Humboldt professor and former dean of Professional Studies, who was involved in a Title IX case. Students have been feeling confused, shocked and worried about what it means for their degree if they feel uncomfortable attending his class.

At the University Senate meeting on April 26, senate members read letters submitted by students and faculty where feelings and concerns were expressed about John Lee.

“These issues include favoring misogynistic values, mistreatment of women, protection of users and lack of burglary action taken against sexual directors. Retreat rights shouldn’t have ever been granted to a person who had violated someone else’s body, engaged in predatory behavior, exceptionally used, violated and groped another human being,” said a student letter submitted to the Senate.

Lee is currently teaching six classes both in person and online this spring 2022 semester. These classes are: two LSEE 308 classes, two LSEE 319 classes, a LSEE 453 Senior Seminar 1 and an Activity
course.

Next semester, fall 2022, Lee is scheduled to teach three classes, however it has not been confirmed by the department of education if Lee will still be teaching these courses. The courses are: LSEE 317, LSEE 318 and LSEE 723. Zoe Estelle Rose Sailor is a current student of Lee who stopped attending his class altogether after reading the USA Today story. Sailor had enrolled in one of Lee’s classes for fall 2022 before the news broke. She has since unenrolled from that course.

Sailor was never uncomfortable around Lee and thought he was a helpful professor, but she believes that Lee shouldn’t have been offered a faculty position back to Cal Poly Humboldt. Sailor also believes the university should have been transparent and made students aware of the situation when it took place in 2016.

“There are a lot of students that are attending now that were not here at school in 2016 and weren’t aware that this has ever happened,” Sailor said. “I was un- aware of it because I didn’t start coming to school here until 2017, and so I wish that I would have known, that maybe would have informed my class making judgment or picking process.”

When asked how they felt about being in Lee’s class since the USA TODAY story came out, Kendra Turner and Jenni Bunneil, two students in Lee’s LSEE 308 class, agreed that it is a complicated situation.

“It was very unexpected and because it was the complete opposite of what we have seen in the classroom, I think that’s what has made it a lot more confusing,” Bunneil said.

There are a lot of mixed feelings amongst students about the situation and this professor. As many students have already enrolled in his fall classes, the biggest question is likely whether Lee will still be here teaching in the fall.

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