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A University of Wisconsin-La Crosse student Wednesday accused an unidentified art professor at the school of inappropriate conduct while she was a freshman in a public Facebook post making its way around the social media site.

Caycee Bean, a student and athlete at the school since 2014, said she reported an incident last semester to the university and was dissatisfied with UW-L’s response.

“I’m sharing this because I am extremely disappointed with UW-L’s process. This professor took a slap on the wrist and gets to walk around like he is untouchable,” Bean wrote on Facebook.

Caycee Bean

Caycee Bean

She declined to be interviewed, saying she was acting on the advice of her lawyer. The post had 860 shares by noon Thursday.

The university released a statement Thursday afternoon, stressing its commitment to maintaining a safe and inclusive learning environment for all of its students and responding to all complaints promptly, and stating that the investigation did not determine university policies were violated.

“The University is aware that public statements have been made regarding an investigation of a faculty member. As an institution, we acknowledge the university should have been more prompt in communicating the result of this investigation to the student and regret the negative impact this had on the student,” said a university spokesperson.

Chancellor Joe Gow has directed the investigative team to re-open the case and to seek a review of the matter by the UW System attorneys, the statement said, citing new information.

According to Bean, the professor, whom she did not identify citing legal reasons, gave her an override into his senior level classes, and offered to give her private drawing lessons.

“When it came time for my ‘lesson’ he took me into a small paper room and locked the door behind him. I was immediately uncomfortable but didn’t really understand what was happening,” she said.

Bean said the professor asked her to pose for him and take off her sweater.

“He made comments about my body and then took his hand and began to lift up my shirt. I stopped him. I felt like I was in a bad dream and was so uncomfortable I didn’t know what to do,” Bean said.

According to her post, someone then began to jiggle the door, and they waited a few minutes before opening the door and left.

“A classmate was standing by the door and watched me walk out of a locked paper room with our professor,” she wrote. “I was so embarrassed. I quit taking art classes and tried to forget that it happened.”

Watching the professor walk through the halls with other freshmen girls left her sick to her stomach and she filed a report with the university. UW-L officials promised to keep her in the loop, then failed to contact her, she said. She followed up this week.

In response, she received an email acknowledging that a miscommunication led the university to fail to follow up with her. Bean posted the email on her Facebook page, redacting the name of the official who sent it to her.

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In the email, the official thanked Bean for sharing her concerns and says the school reviewed the matter and “communicated expectations to the faculty member in question.”

“For the duration of your academic career at UW-L, he has been instructed not to contact you,” read the email, adding that any other concerns or questions can be directed to the Dean of the College for the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities.

“When the complaint was received, an investigative team comprised of trained university officials promptly followed up with the student and exercised due diligence to identify and reach out to other potential witnesses. Investigators, along with the dean of the college, also met with the faculty member to share the allegations and hear the faculty member’s response,” according to the university statement.

The university did not find that the professor violated school policy.

“While there was not a determination that our policies were violated in this case, we nevertheless took action to protect the student from retaliation or other disruptions to academic opportunities during the investigation. These measures will continue for the remainder of the student’s time at UW-L. The university has also taken action to ensure that the faculty member and the department are engaged in ongoing efforts to maintain safe and appropriate instructor-student interactions,” according to the statement.

UW-L has an 11-page harassment policy on its website, which includes prohibiting sexual harassment, defined as “the inappropriate introduction of sexual activities or comments into the work or learning situation.”

Harassment is handled by the Equity and Affirmative Action office. The policy allows that office to take interim measures on a case-by-case basis while a complaint is pending, including no-contact orders between the complainant and respondent.

It also calls for both the complainant and respondent “to be simultaneously informed in writing of: the outcome/resolution of the complaint; the rationale for the outcome; any changes made to the outcome/resolution before it comes final; when the outcome/resolution becomes final; and any available appeal procedures.”

Bean, who said she is meeting with Gow to discuss the issue, is asking anyone with similar experiences with an art professor at UW-L to reach out to her on Facebook.

“This needs to be brought to light so we can put an end to it,” Bean said.

The university also urged anyone with any knowledge of misconduct to report the behavior.

“We ask and encourage anyone who feels they have witnessed or experienced misconduct to report it. Confidential support is also available,” according to the statement.

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Jourdan Vian can be reached at jvian@lacrossetribune.com or follow her on Twitter at @Jourdan_LCT.

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City government reporter

Jourdan Vian is a reporter and columnist covering local government and city issues for the La Crosse Tribune. You can contact her at 608-791-8218.

(22) comments

Vickie Lynn

Why would Joe Gow think there was a problem with the professor making advances towards a student? He thought it was perfectly fine to have an adult film star give an informational talk to students...and have her paid with University funds.

Jobaba

That is an argument of false equivalence. Just because the subject matter is titillating and concerns the university does not make them equal or even relevant. That means your intent is only to pile on Joe Gow. Learning, there is no substitute.

Cassandra2

Vickie Lynn seems like a fake account, set up just to comment on this story. I wonder who it might be....

capedcrusader

Probably "Allison Hess", "Stella Harris", "Jim Fox', "Otis Berg", "Snow Cougar", or "CrankyHoax"?

crank

Worth pointing out... You and Cassandra2 seem awfully interested in the identity of other people on this web site despite denials about making such inquiries and insistence that it's just me.

capedcrusader

Once again crankypants puts forth another lie. I never once said you were the only one you liar. BTW, what happened to all those names I mentioned? Apparently there are a lot of trolls to help explain the point I just made...

Rick Czeczok

Now this worthless newspaper is making news off of Facebook. No wonder it is all but a dead paper. Why is this even printed? True socialist paper.

truthbknown

Hmmm. The Tribune isn't supposed to use Facebook as a source for news? You'll need to send them a list of other sources they can't use since you've set your self up as the source police for the Tribune. Would you be Ok with this jerk pulling your wife/girlfriend blouse up. Also would it be OK with you if this same jerk took your wife girlfriend into a room and locked the door behind him?

DMoney

According to one person. According to me, you are anti-gay. PROVE me wrong. You're guilty.

Cassandra2

Comrade Zerocock, the paper continues to be a success because people like you continue to click on its pages and comment on these forums, generating advertising revenue. If you hate it so much and want to see it fail, the most proactive thing you can do is quit looking at these pages.

ElPresidente

No better time for a college student to learn that the human resources department's function is to serve the needs of the business; its loyalty and responsibilities are to the company. Anyone that's dealt with their HR dept at work knows this...

truthbknown

Couldn't agree more!

LocalObserver

For those of you who aren't understanding what this article actually says, here's what almost certainly happened: a UWL professor sexually harassed and assaulted a student. The student reported it to UWL administration, BUT Elgin is buddies with administration so they did an "investigation" then swept the whole thing under the rug. That's just the way it works there, they protect their buddies.

DMoney

"Almost certainly" doesn't warrant punishment/discipline/action beyond what was apparently done. "Certainly" would warrant more. Good thing we live in a society where people are innocent until proven guilty.

truthbknown

I am 100% for this student going for the throat of this professor and anyone else involved in a cover-up. Someone accused of a similar incident should be put on administrative leave with pay immediately.

DMoney

Accusation should automatically result in punishment? What fantasy do you live in? I accuse you of being a Nazi. Guilty, because I said so.

truthbknown

Who said he was guilty??

DMoney

You

Cassandra2

The article actually says that the student reported it about 4 years after it allegedly happened and wasn't able to provide any witnesses.

DMoney

Which means it's old, unverified testimony. It's one person's word. Sadly, that doesn't mean much today.

DMoney

"Almost certainly". So, probably? So, maybe? So, possibly? Yeah, hang the bas*ard, because someone said to...

madmen60

Posting a complaint on Facebook is not going to give the Equal Rights Division jurisdiction. She needs an attorney who is well versed in discrimination law.

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