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Editor: Paul L. Caron, Dean
Pepperdine University School of Law

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Case Western Students Respond to Prof's Lawsuit Alleging Retaliation by Dean for Reporting Sexual Harassment

MitchellFollowing up on my previous posts (links below):  The Docket (Case Western Law School's Student Newspaper), Some Hard Questions for President Snyder:

A couple thoughts have been bouncing around our heads since the start of this Ku v. Mitchell saga. First, why would Professor Raymond Ku—a family man, successful professor, and well-published author—launch himself and his family into such a public and stressful fight against Dean Lawrence Mitchell [right] and Case Western Reserve University if substantial merits didn’t exist?

Second, assuming arguendo that Professor Ku’s allegations of retaliation are true, would any student or staff member in their right mind dare to bring their own concerns to administration after their inconsistent reaction to this current suit? What kind of reputation is the administration of Case Western Reserve University’s highest echelons establishing with this case? ...

From what we have seen thus far, this is shaping up to be a nasty, drawn-out battle, and the vortex of public exposure gets larger with each passing day. Someone will emerge the victor, but at what cost? We do not want to see our university, and especially our law school, reduced to scorched earth in the aftermath of this battle. But we also do not want our institution to continue operating at status quo if that means its staff, professors, and students are subjected to fear, sexual harassment, and retaliation.

To CWRU President Barbara Snyder, we respectfully ask these hard questions and kindly request that you answer them in a timely manner.

1. Will the university board organize an independent review of the harassment policy, the provost’s, president’s, and diversity offices’ adherence to this policy and any violations that may have occurred in the case at hand? Or will they only investigate Mitchell’s conduct, completely disregarding what many consider to be the core issue with the university administration’s failure to follow its reporting and anti-retaliation policies? ...

2. How do you plan to restore faith in a harassment-reporting policy that many now see as a Venus fly trap intended to attract those willing to report violations but that ensnares those who report against favored or protected individuals?

3. When will we have an acting and empowered dean to bring functionality to the administration again and morale back to students, faculty, and staff?

4. Can the law school and the university afford to continue with litigation in what seems to even a layman a clear case of retaliation? We urge the administration to consider more efficient, less embarrassing, and more reasonable paths to resolution in this matter. The longer this issue drags out, the harder it is for all of us.

These are not rhetorical questions. We expect candor from the university we hired to educate us. As future lawyers, we won’t accept a Potemkin village and will see through any façade erected to make us feel that all is well. Reminding us that there is a new curriculum (which doesn’t seem to amount to more than shifting around the furniture on the Titanic) will not make us look away from the real issues.

In fact, please don’t bring up the new curriculum in regards to this lawsuit. Again. Ever. It insults our intelligence. We expect accountability from the university we hired to educate us. We have great faith in and respect for our law-school faculty—including Professor Ku, who has stood alone in this for far too long—and hope to regain faith in our university administration. Nothing more, nothing less.

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