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Student Senate Discusses Kalyango Tenure Decision At Meeting

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ATHENS, Ohio (WOUB) — Ohio University students weighed in on the recent actions of the Faculty Senate to submit and then withdraw a committee report recommending a journalism professor found to have sexually harassed two female students by the school’s Title IX office keep his tenure.

The discussion was part of Wednesday’s Student Senate meeting, days after the full Faculty Senate voted Monday to withdraw its committee’s recommendation regarding Yusef Kalyango.

Maggie Old, Women’s Panhellenic Association (WPA) president, during the student speakout portion of the meeting wondered why the school has a Title IX and process if it can easily get overturned by an “untrained faculty senate committee.”

“The decision to let a man who was proven to have sexually harassed two women students keep his job and his tenure will do the following things: empower professors who are tenured to continue abusing their power, scare survivors into not reporting these horrible actions that impact their entire lives, and most importantly this decision will show all students, alumni, women and especially the survivors the university does not stand with survivors.”

The university’s civil rights office conducted investigations into two claims of sexual harassment filed against Kalyango by female students. In both cases, the investigations concluded that the evidence supported the claims.

But in a 5-to-1 decision, the Faculty Senate committee said it did not find the evidence of sexual harassment convincing and there were flaws in those original investigations that denied Kalyango of his due process rights.

Their report and recommendation went mostly unnoticed until it was sent to local media, triggering a wave of public backlash and the Faculty Senate’s vote to withdraw the report.

Old said she represents roughly 900 women that are part of the 10 sororities that make up the WPA at Ohio University.

She partnered with Student Senate Treasurer Eliza Ivan to start a petition calling for the Board of Trustees to terminate Professor Kalyango’s tenure. The petition had more than 1,300 signatures as of Wednesday at 9:45 p.m.

“We are demanding Kalyango lose his tenure if not his job as a whole,” Old said.

Students used the speakout portion of the meeting to also promote resources for survivors of sexual harassment and other crimes.

Olivia Gemarro spoke on behalf of the Ambassadors for the Survivor Advocacy Program. She said the Survivor Advocacy Program is always available for survivors and others who might need support.

Student Senate officers during each report repeated the idea the organization believes, supports and stands with survivors. They highlighted petitions and other acts of activism Student Senate is involved in related to the issue.

Student Senate Believes Survivors
Student Senate President Ian Carter started his report by saying the legislative body believes, supports and stands with survivors. [Screenshot by Anna Azallion]
Vice President Elizabeth Lilly is working with Graduate Student Senate to draft joint-legislation to ensure both legislative bodies operate to protect students. And they’re doing research to maximize the legislations effect.

Ivan started an email letter writing campaign with Student Senate’s Chief of Staff, PR director and women’s affairs commissioner and vice commissioner.

“In this letter we demand that the board of trustees uphold their responsibilities,” she said. “And to do so by believing and supporting survivors, listening to the needs of the student body and not reinstating Yusuf Kalyango as a tenured faculty member here at Ohio University.”

The university’s board of trustees, which has the final say over loss of tenure, issued a statement Tuesday night saying that it plans to review the entire record in Kalyango’s case, including the committee recommendation the Faculty Senate wants to withdraw

Vice President Elizabeth Lilly said during her report said the the discourse at Wednesday’s meeting captures the disconnect some students feel with Ohio University and its administration.

“I think that it’s really time for us to realize that there is a lot of change that needs to be done in order to protect survivors and give students a place for their voice to be heard, listened to and taken seriously,” she said.

Jenny Hall-Jones, who serves as Senior Associate Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students, was one of several advisors who praised the efforts of Student Senate members. She also shared a “one-stop-shop” of resources for students related to sexual misconduct.


Anna Azallion is a student journalist working with WOUB’s Media Lab.