Paul L. Caron

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

University Of Illinois Law School Dean, Faculty Speak Out Against Colleague's Sexual Misconduct

Illinois LogoPosted at the request of some Illinois faculty:  


The College’s students, staff, and faculty value a mutually respectful, intellectually challenging, and safe community for all its members, and Professor Jay Kesan’s actions betrayed those values. The facts outlined in the report authored by the university’s Office of Diversity, Equity and Access (ODEA) demonstrated the corrosive nature of the environment created by Professor Kesan and the significant harm resulting from his actions. The actions of Professor Kesan — including both offensive statements and unwanted physical contact — constituted behavior deserving of meaningful punishment under any reasonable policy covering sexual misconduct.

Given the facts as found in the report, the sanctions administered do not comport with our sense of justice. Any policies, procedures or practices that improperly limit the scope of sanctions available for dealing with such serious misconduct should be immediately revised.

Our students, through their elected representatives in the Student Bar Association, have called for us to gather as a community to further investigate the circumstances that led us to this point and to seek a path for the future. We, the undersigned law faculty and senior administrators, proudly stand in support of our students. We look forward to working together and with the University administration to address the important concerns being raised. We all could have done — and must do — better.

Rummana Alam
Vikram Amar
Sean Anderson
Amitai Aviram
Kenworthey Bilz
Matthew Braun
Ralph Brubaker
Yulanda Curtis
Stephanie Davidson
Randall Elkins
Margareth Etienne
Melissa Frydman
Paul Heald
Pia Hunter
Heidi Hurd
Eric Johnson
Faye Jones
Richard Kaplan
Robin Kar
Patrick Keenan
Robert Lawless
Michelle Layser
Andrew Leipold
Greg Miarecki
Jeremy McClane
Michael Moore
Shannon Moritz
Colleen Murphy
Jennifer Pahre
Rebecca Ray
Jennifer Robbennolt
Jacqueline Ross
Richard Ross
Arden Rowell
Kari Sanderson
Aylon Schulte
Jamelle Sharpe
Nicola Sharpe
Catherine Stahl
Rebecca Szajna
Charles Tabb
Suja Thomas
Carolyn Turner
William Turner
Virginia Vermillion
Lesley Wexler
Robin Wilson
Verity Winship

Legal Education | Permalink


It must be lovely to have colleagues who stab you in the back in a situation like this.

Posted by: Mike Livingston | Oct 24, 2018 4:21:02 AM

Just what does Dean Amar think would be an appropriate punishment?

Posted by: Eric Rasmusen | Oct 24, 2018 10:51:00 AM

Mike, can you accept the possibility that Kesan is a big time jerk who deserves what he's getting?

Posted by: Mike Petrik | Oct 24, 2018 8:04:51 PM

Faculty governance and the notion of a self-governing profession require the faculty to reason about and evaluate one another's behavior. Anyone who thinks this constitutes "stabbing in the back" misunderstands both that phrase and the concept of faculty governance over personnel matters.

Posted by: Diane Klein | Oct 24, 2018 11:18:11 PM

@Mike Yes, but if so, what is the colleague's statement adding?

Posted by: Mike Livingston | Oct 25, 2018 4:12:49 AM

Mike Petrik: Mike Livingston isn't saying Prof. Kesan shouldn't be punished. Prof. Kesan *is* getting punished, and these colleagues are piling on with the people who are saying Kesan should be fired, but in a cowardly way, not saying what they think should happen or what's wrong with the current procedures. This is especially bad for colleagues to do, because if Kesan had a pattern of bad behavior that went unaddressed, a large part of the blame goes to a faculty culture-- to *them*-- that was oblivious. In a well-functioning school, if Kesan was being rude to women regularly, one of the women would have complained to another professor and that professor would have informally gone to Kesan and told him to shape up. We don't hear of that happening. Why didn't it? Why didn't any of the women feel they could complain to even a single member of the faculty?

Posted by: Eric Rasmusen | Oct 26, 2018 8:13:26 PM

Actually, looking at the report, I see that some of the faculty are complainants and other facutly knew of the general problem. My comment still stands, though. Why didn't they tell some old faculty member to go and talk to Kesan? This kind of thing is NOT best handles by bureaucrats and formal procedures. Informal methods are far far quicker and, I bet, far more effective. They do, however, require senior professors to rebuke a colleagues to his face ( as opposed to behind his back), which most of us hate to do.

Posted by: Eric Rasmusen | Oct 26, 2018 8:19:43 PM

Fair points, Eric.

Posted by: Mike Petrik | Oct 27, 2018 4:14:06 PM

Faculty governance and the notion of a self-governing profession

Have no place among salaried employees of the State of Illinois. Hire outside counsel to conduct an internal investigation and have any accusers make a statement to campus security or the local police if they've a sense a crime was committed. Other faculty in the department can give evidence if they have it or otherwise butt-out. If the faculty handbook specifies that this is a terminable offense, put a resolution to buy out his contract in front of the trustees.

Posted by: Art Deco | Oct 28, 2018 11:23:24 AM

In a well-functioning school, if Kesan was being rude to women regularly, one of the women would have complained to another professor and that professor would have informally gone to Kesan and told him to shape up.

You mean if he was rude to men, it would be totes OK?

Posted by: Art Deco | Oct 28, 2018 11:25:43 AM

If I'm to take this at face value, he wasn't rude at all, just an irritant to women who didn't merit the attention he was giving them:

A report on the investigation, which was conducted by the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Access at the


Posted by: Art Deco | Oct 28, 2018 11:29:48 AM