College News

UW-La Crosse student protests university response to sexual misconduct allegations

A UW-La Crosse student has been protesting daily for the university to hold an open forum about sexual misconduct on campus in the wake of last month’s allegations.

A UW-La Crosse student has been protesting daily for the university to hold an open forum about sexual misconduct on campus in the wake of last month’s allegations.

Image By: Madeline Heim

Ever since a UW-La Crosse student accused an art professor of sexual misconduct in a Facebook post in early September, students on campus have been responding with concern to the university’s decisions in the aftermath. 

Some students participated in the “You Are Not Alone” 2019 event last week, which was started to show support for people dealing with the trauma of sexual harassment and assault. 

One student, however, has been standing daily at the center of campus. 

For the past five weeks, UW-La Crosse senior Kendra Whelan has been out in front of the Hoeschler Tower around noon, holding a sign that reads “UWL protects predatory professors,” WIZM News Talk reported. 

Whelan told WIZM she found the university’s response to the allegations to be lacking.

“When I realized [the chancellor] wasn’t going to turn this into an open conversation about how we can make our policies better and stronger and protect students, I just couldn’t take it anymore,” she said.

Whelan started a petition for UW-La Crosse Chancellor Joe Gow to host an open forum for students to ask questions and “begin healing the broken trust between the administration and the student body.”

However, Gow is hesitant to schedule an open forum because of the ongoing investigation into the recent allegations, according to the La Crosse Tribune.

“[T]he challenge is you would have to talk without referring to specific cases, and that would be risky,” Gow told the Tribune. “There’s just too much at stake with that.”

The university is working on adding information about UW-La Crosse’s commitments to Title IX and the Clery Act to its website to help inform students another way, Gow told WIZM. 

Whelan told the Tribune she’s received lots of support for her protest, and other students have joined in, including Bailey Click, who participated in the “You Are Not Alone” event. 

“It’s been really eye-opening,” Click said of protesting with Whelan, according to The Racquet Press. “What I can say to people is if you believe what we believe, please help us and join us.”

Whalen plans to deliver the petition to Gow on Oct. 14, according to a post on the petition’s change.org page. 

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