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Some at Michigan asking why music professor was granted tenure soon after misconduct investigation that was later allegedly reopened
David Daniels is known for his “superlative artistry, magnetic stage presence, and a voice of singular warmth and surpassing beauty, which has helped him redefine his voice category for the modern public.” That’s according to Daniels’s faculty biography at the University of Michigan, which granted him a full professorship in music, with tenure, in the spring.
Over the summer, though, Daniels became known for something else: allegations of rape, made by a singer who said he was a graduate student at Rice University, near where Daniels was performing in Houston at the time of the incident, in 2010. Daniels has denied those allegations. But now he faces another set of accusations and a lawsuit -- this time from a graduate student at Michigan who says that Daniels drugged and groped him last year. The student also says Michigan turned a blind eye to rumors of sexual impropriety surrounding a faculty superstar, and even rewarded him with tenure after three years on the faculty.
Other students are now asking why Michigan granted Daniels tenure when it did, or at all. Is it appropriate to fast-track tenure for someone who has faced recent misconduct allegations?
“We call on the university to swiftly and transparently rectify its failure to adequately respond to the multiple allegations” against Daniels, reads an open letter from Michigan’s Central Student Government.
The university said in a statement that “when these allegations were made public in August, Daniels was not teaching classes and agreed to take a leave of absence.” He remains on leave for the term.
But what about before the former Rice student’s allegations were made public?
The new lawsuit says that Daniels invited one of his Michigan graduate students to his home one night last year, saying he was “lonely” and wanted to talk about the student’s career. Daniels allegedly gave the student drinks and what he called a Tylenol PM after the student said he needed to rest up for a performance. But the student says the pill was really the prescription sleep medication Ambien, and that Daniels soon took off the student's clothes to grope and touch his genitals and face.
The lawsuit alleges that Daniels also sent the student text messages asking for pictures of his genitals, a video of himself masturbating and other sexual content, along with a reference to their “Bourbon and Ambien night.”
In March of this year, according to the lawsuit, Michigan received a complaint that Daniels was contacting students on the dating app Grindr and offering them money for sex. Michigan allegedly investigated the report but did not interview students or ask to see Daniels’s social media accounts. No findings were made against Daniels, according to the lawsuit.
Daniels was granted tenure in May.
In July, someone posted on Michigan’s opera Facebook page that Daniels was a serial rapist who drugged his targets. University officials received a similar anonymous letter.
Daniels and his husband “drugged and raped a young singer” in 2010, the letter reads. “He never reported it because he was terrified that a famous and successful singer could derail his nascent career.” Besides sexual assault, the letter says, “dozens of young men are unwilling recipients of pictures of Daniels’s genitalia. He’s a known serial sexual predator.”
The communication apparently caused Michigan to look into the pay-for-sex allegations again, according to the suit. Screenshots of the discussion from Grindr, quoted in the suit, allegedly show Daniels saying “many of the same things” he said to the graduate student, including “I’m a HUGE FAN of yours” and “I think you’re a crazy talented singer! I want to help you in any way I can in this crazy business.”
Daniels also wrote, “I wanna make a hot Dad/son fantasy come true with you!! $$$$$$,” and sent a photo of himself seated naked on a toilet and a picture of an erect penis, according to the screenshots quoted in the suit. He's also alleged to have written, “Are you a U of M student? Cause I’m university affiliated … need to be WAY discreet” and “I’m one year from tenure.” The student allegedly blocked Daniels on the app after telling him, “This is not ok.” According to the lawsuit, Daniels continued to contact him via Facebook, saying, “I’m sorry! I’m such a big fan of your [sic]!” and “Academia is a new thing for me!”
In August, the singer Samuel Schultz publicly accused Daniels and his now husband, conductor Scott Walters, of inviting him back to where they were staying near Rice to drug and rape him. Both Daniels and his husband have denied the allegations.
Also in August, a faculty member became aware of the Michigan graduate student’s account, according to the lawsuit, and reported it to university officials. But “the Office for Institutional Equity did nothing. No file was opened,” according to the suit.
Asked about Michigan’s response to the allegations against Daniels both before and after his tenure decision, Kim Broekhuizen, university spokesperson, said it’s “important for you to know that with any allegation that could be criminal in nature, the university would typically defer to the law enforcement investigation” before starting its own inquiry.
Michigan “actively pursues all avenues to gather additional information in these situations, including those in which expressions of concern are anonymous,” Broekhuizen added via email. “We want to reiterate we take sexual misconduct allegations seriously. We always take appropriate action when there's enough information to move forward.”
The student is seeking damages and equitable relief via a trial by jury.
Daniels in a statement called the allegations in the lawsuit both “false and malicious. I have never had a physical relationship with the individual mentioned in this complaint.” He added, ”The events alleged here never happened and I intend to defend my reputation.”
Michigan is far from the only institution facing complaints that it mishandled a sexual harassment case. It isn’t the only institution to promote someone accused of harassment, either. The University of Rochester, for example, promoted the brain and cognitive scientist Florian Jaeger to full professor while he was being investigated for sexual harassment. The university has since said it was a mistake, even though Jaeger was eventually cleared of wrongdoing by the university and a separate outside investigation (a related lawsuit against Rochester continues).
Unlike Jaeger, Daniels was no longer under investigation for misconduct at the time of his tenure decision, according to the suit. And many faculty advocates say it’s important to maintain due process as more and more reports of abuse come to light.
But the Michigan student’s complaint also alleges that the university’s investigation into Daniels’s alleged solicitation of sex was inadequate, and that incriminating screenshots and messages from the professor to a student were readily obtained once the investigation was reopened. His tenure recommendation report includes no reference to the investigation. Regarding students, the report says that they enjoy and "benefit greatly" from working with him.
"I frankly think it was a mistake, and it was one where it’s not going to happen again,” Joel Seligman, Rochester’s former president, said last year of Jaeger’s promotion while he was facing harassment reports. "And it’s not that after an investigation one can’t be promoted if it’s justified on the merits, but in the pendency of a serious investigation of this nature, it was wrong to promote him."Editorial Tags: FacultyMisconductImage Caption: David DanielsIs this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0Disable left side advertisement?: Is this Career Advice newsletter?: Magazine treatment: Trending: College: University of Michigan-Ann ArborUniversity of Rochester
Administrators at the California State University System worried two years ago when the system set ambitious goals for increasing graduation rates. They were concerned that low-income students and students of color would be harmed by the new targets. One criticism, for example, was that students would be pushed into courses they were not prepared to take.
Instead, the nation’s largest and most diverse public university system is seeing record levels of achievement and narrowed equity gaps among low-income and minority students.
“Everybody in our university community believes we should effectively serve students and improve graduation rates,” said James Minor, the system’s senior strategist for academic success and inclusive excellence. “People may have different opinions about how to do that, but everybody agrees with the goal. It’s impossible to do the same thing we’ve done for the last 50 years and expect gains in graduation rates and closing equity gaps.”
Preliminary data released earlier this month show the four-year graduation rate for first-time, full-time freshmen increased six percentage points over three years, from 19.2 percent in 2015 to 25.4 percent in 2018. The six-year graduation rate also increased by four percentage points, from 57 percent in 2015 to 61.1 percent in 2018. The system is scheduled to release final data later this month.
The graduation rate gap between students who receive federal financial aid, or Pell Grants, and peers who don't receive the aid decreased by one percentage point, from 10.6 percent in 2017 to 9.5 percent in 2018. Among African American, Native American and Latino/Hispanic students, the graduation rate gap narrowed by two percentage points from 12.2 percent in 2017 to 10.5 percent in 2018.
Graduation rates also increased for transfer students. The two-year graduation rate increased by seven percentage points, from 30.5 percent in 2015 to 37.6 percent in 2018. Four-year graduation rates for transfer students also increased four percentage points, from 72.9 percent in 2015 to 77 percent in 2018.
Minor attributes this success to Graduation Initiative 2025, which called for increasing the four-year graduation rate from 19 percent in 2015 to 40 percent by 2025. It would also raise the six-year graduation rate for freshmen from 57 percent in 2015 to 70 percent, raise the two-year goal for transfer students from 31 percent in 2015 to 45 percent, and raise the four-year goal for transfer students from 73 percent in 2015 to 85 percent.
The initiative also called for eliminating achievement gaps among students of color and those from low-income households.
Meanwhile, campus administrators are seeing their own success from the initiative. At San Diego State University -- one of the 23 universities in the Cal State system -- the graduation rate for Pell Grant recipients increased to 71 percent. Nationally, a little less than half of first-time, full-time Pell recipients earn a bachelor’s degree in six years from the college where they first enrolled.
“We’ve been focusing on enhancing guidance and academic planning and making sure our first-generation students and [Educational Opportunity Program students] are entering early with a support system,” SDSU president Adela de la Torre said. “And we’re working with our community partners, the K-12s and community colleges.”
De la Torre said there wasn’t just one program that helped push graduation rates in a positive direction. The same is true for the larger Cal State system, which has implemented a few education reforms in the last couple of years, including moving away from placement exams and replacing noncredit remedial courses with credit-bearing classes that offer additional academic support.
Minor said the system received about $150 million, or $75 million a year, for the graduation initiative during the last two state budget cycles. But he said the funding alone didn't drive the graduation rate increases.
“When you take $75 million and spread it across 23 campuses, it’s not game-changing money,” he said. “It’s enough for campuses to do things they otherwise would not. Campuses are investing percentages of their own budgets over and beyond what the appropriation is for student success.”
The graduation initiative involved campuses systemwide using data to identify learning gaps down to the classroom level, Minor said. Cal State campuses also added 4,300 new course sections to open more seats in classrooms and reduce the time it takes students to graduate.
Minor said CSU administrators questioned students about why they stayed in college for an extra semester or an additional year.
“It wasn’t because they wanted to hang out,” he said. “They couldn’t get the course they needed.”
Individual universities also made changes that went beyond what the system mandated, Minor said.
San Diego State, for example, extended the requirement that freshmen live on campus to sophomores, said Sandra Cook, associate vice president for academic affairs and enrollment at SDSU.
“Data shows students who live in residence halls and have that structure do better,” she said.
The university also created a center for commuter students that provides them a study and meeting space on campus and is building "learning communities" of students with similar backgrounds who attend the same classes and share academic advisers, Cook said. The hope is that these steps will improve students' academic outcomes.
System officials and Chancellor Timothy White say although they’re pleased to see graduation rates increase and achievement gaps shrink, there is still more work to be done.
Cal State wants to improve student advising and make changes that will allow a greater percentage of students to have a degree plan before they register for their first term. The system also wants to improve coordination between various offices and departments so students aren’t given conflicting information when they have questions or issues to address, Minor said.
“The opportunity to graduate from CSU should not be based on ethnicity or financial background,” he said. “So even an equity gap of 1 percent in our mind is too large and we would look to close it.”Editorial Tags: Graduation ratesCaliforniaTransferImage Caption: San Diego State UniversityIs this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0Disable left side advertisement?: Is this Career Advice newsletter?: Magazine treatment: Trending: College: San Diego State University
Southern California colleges feared for the worst when news spread that a gunman had opened fire at Borderline Bar & Grill, in Thousand Oaks, Calif., Wednesday night. The bar's weekly "college night" opens its doors to students as young as 18. The event attracts hundreds of young people, many of them students.
Among the 12 people shot and killed were Alania Housley, a freshman at Pepperdine University. The Los Angeles Times reported that she was studying English, hoped to go to law school and had a passion for music.
Pepperdine reported that it has identified 16 of its students who were present when the terror started at Borderline. The university is focused on helping those mourning Housley and also those experiencing trauma because of the mass shooting.
California Lutheran University announced that it was calling off classes Thursday and today and setting up special religious services and outreach efforts. A number of its students were present. Justin Meek, a recent graduate, was among those killed. Local television stations reported that he worked at Borderline but was there with friends, off-duty on Wednesday night. Witnesses said he was killed while trying to protect others.
Noel Sparks, a student at Moorpark College, was also among those killed. Press accounts described how her friends who were with her at the bar grew more and more worried as they couldn't reach her after the shootings.
Moorpark, which has confirmed that it had other students present at Borderline, is also reaching out to offer support.
Wednesday night's mass shooting was hardly the first to have an impact on higher education. On Friday, a gunman shot and killed a student and a professor at Florida State University when he stormed into a yoga studio in Tallahassee. And that shooting came less than a week after an avowed anti-Semite killed 11 at a Pittsburgh synagogue. Those murdered included a professor and a retired researcher at the University of Pittsburgh.
The first prominent mass shooting at a college campus was in 1966, when Charles Whitman climbed to the top of a tower at the University of Texas at Austin and shot 43 people, killing 13. In 2007, a disturbed student shot and killed 32 people at Virginia Tech.
The following is a far-from-comprehensive list of some of the other shootings in recent years that have claimed students' and faculty members' lives:
- In 2014, a man who left a manifesto saying he wanted to attack sorority women killed six students from the University of California, Santa Barbara.
- In 2015, 10 were killed and more were injured in a rampage at Umpqua Community College, in Oregon.
- Also in 2015, four students were shot -- one of them fatally -- at Northern Arizona University.
- In 2016, seven students at Valencia College were among those killed in a mass shooting at a gay club in Orlando.
- Among those murdered at a Florida high school in February were one student who had committed to attending the University of Indianapolis and another who was bound for Lynn University.
- Cristian G. Gomez Olivares, modern languages and literatures
- Craig A. Hodges, pediatrics
- Megan R. Holmes, applied social sciences
- Ganapati H. Mahabaleshwar, medicine
- Brian Michael McDermott Jr., otolaryngology
- Paul Shin-Hyun Park, ophthalmology and visual sciences
- Adam T. Perzynski, medicine
- Abdus Sattar, population and quantitative health sciences
- Vera Tobin, cognitive science
- Matthew A. Willard, materials science and engineering
Prairie State College, in Illinois
- Colleen Ivancic, accounting and business
- Michelle Keane, nursing
- Edward O’Donnell, nursing
- Shikha Nangia, chemical engineering
- Makan Fardad, electrical engineering
Leading into the pivotal midterm elections this week, political activists were confident that turnout among college students would far outpace previous years. Their predictions were apparently correct; exit poll data revealed a surge among college-age voters that also seemed to contribute to Democrats taking back control of the U.S. House of Representatives.
Preliminary projections put the number of young voters up by 10 percentage points since the previous midterm election in 2014. Experts predict the groundswell of energy among students, expressed at polling places across the country on Tuesday, will influence elections for decades to come. More politicians will take notice of this year’s results and more aggressively try to court young voters, the experts said.
Even as some GOP lawmakers were accused of trying to squash student participation and floated unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud, the youth turnout far exceeded that of the previous midterm election. The Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement, or CIRCLE, at Tufts University, projected that about 31 percent of young people age 18 to 29 voted in this election cycle, which is about 10 percentage points higher than in 2014.
That’s the highest turnout rate in at least 25 years, according to CIRCLE. The United States Election Project, a well-known source on the electorate run by Michael P. McDonald, associate professor of political science at University of Florida, estimated that more than 113 million people voted in total, representing a 48 percent turnout rate. This would mark the first time in U.S. history that a midterm election exceeded 100 million voters.
Nonpartisan voters’ rights groups and students themselves said the social and political polarization over the Trump presidency greatly boosted youth interest in the elections and led them to flock to the polls.
“Youth demonstrated newfound levels of engagement and enthusiasm that have historically been unusual in a midterm election,” CIRCLE researchers said in a written analysis.
This engagement was documented at colleges and universities in battleground states across the country, where many voting precincts were located on college campuses.
In Florida, for instance, where there were highly competitive races for governor and the U.S. Senate -- where Republicans hold narrow leads amid disputes about the count -- students voted at much higher rates than previous years, according to the New Voters Project of the Student Public Interest Research Group.
The organization monitored polling places on college campuses in Florida and 10 other states.
At the campus precinct at Florida State University, 3,036 ballots were cast compared to 1,035 votes in 2014, the group said in a written statement. At the University of North Florida, 2,825 total ballots were cast in this year’s election compared to 1,493 in 2014.
“When polls closed at Florida State University, the line was still over an hour long,” Bronte Payne, organizing director for Florida PIRG Students, said in a statement. “We talked to voters, gave out snacks, and made sure everyone stayed in line.”
Representatives from the group said turnout in California was so heavy that they worked with local officials to open additional polling places at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and UC Riverside, where one student apparently stood in line for three and half hours after polls officially closed.
One precinct at UC San Diego ran out of ballots.
“What the preliminary numbers from yesterday show us is that when we invest in helping students through the registration and voting process, it pays off,” SPIRGS said in a press release Wednesday. “Big time.”
College administrators and off-campus advocates have pushed students to vote in recent years by linking registration to orientation programs and other events, or allowing them to register to vote at the same time they're registering bikes or cars on campus. Students typically face barriers to voting because they are often doing so for the first time and on campuses where they may be unfamiliar with state laws. Some states require identification to vote, for example. And state officials have sometimes muddled the process by misinforming students about voting regulations or passing laws that voting rights advocates say intentionally make it more difficult for students with out-of-state addresses to register and vote. For instance, about two years ago, the Republican governor of Maine incorrectly informed college students they needed to establish state residency to vote. Voting rights activists say such tactics are almost exclusively used by Republicans who fear college students will vote for liberal candidates.
Young voters do tend to favor progressives, which was overwhelmingly the case in this election cycle. The Harvard Institute of Politics estimated that among the 14.7 million young people who voted in this election, about 67 percent of them preferred Democrats.
Voters younger than 30, which analysts believe comprised about 13 percent of the electorate in the midterm elections, were also credited as one of the key groups that helped Democrats win the House and made certain races -- namely the Texas Senate battle between Ted Cruz and Beto O’Rourke -- much more competitive than expected. Voters under 30 preferred O’Rourke to Cruz 71 percent to 29 percent, according to exit polls. And Cruz won by about two percentage points, an extraordinarily tight margin for deep-red Texas.
In Nevada, Democrats captured a Senate seat with a five-percentage-point win by Jacky Rosen. Among youth voters, which were an estimated 19 percent in the state, Rosen got 67 percent compared to Dean Heller's 30 percent, according to polling data.
Mark Gearan, director of the Harvard institute, said the influx of college students to the polls is unprecedented and can be attributed to a number of events, but most significantly the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., which outraged young people and spurred them to become more politically active.
He said this generation of young people, motivated by gun violence and an increasingly widening political divide, has taken a keen interest in politics that he believes will continue. Gearan noted how youth voters significantly influenced some races and said politicians who previously did not make much effort to reach out to young voters will notice these results and adjust their campaign strategies.
“I think our elected leaders will be drawn to this,” he said of the election results.
Activists are brainstorming how to keep students interested in politics even in nonelection years. Because it’s documented that students are more interested in specific issues than in loyalty to political parties, keeping them engaged is a challenge for college administrators.
Mike Burns, national director for the Campus Vote Project, a nonpartisan offshoot of the Fair Elections Legal Network, said that on Election Day, his group sponsored parties on campuses to try to make the process more fun.
At James Madison University, music students sponsored an all-day concert Tuesday, and professors even canceled some classes, Burns said. He said this helps “build a culture of democratic engagement.”
While long lines at polling places on college campuses and elsewhere might appear to be the result of successful political activism, Burns said it actuality represents a failure by the government to help facilitate voting.
“We’re always going to be talking about how do we keep up this enthusiasm among first-time voters,” Burns said. “How can we continue to learn lessons from that and improve?”Editorial Tags: ElectionStudent lifeImage Source: Student PIRGsImage Caption: Students encourage voting at the University of California, Riverside, campusIs this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0Disable left side advertisement?: Is this Career Advice newsletter?: Magazine treatment: Trending: