Magazine article Diverse Issues in Higher Education

U-Wisconsin Grapples with a Sex Case That Strikes a Racial Nerve

Magazine article Diverse Issues in Higher Education

U-Wisconsin Grapples with a Sex Case That Strikes a Racial Nerve

Article excerpt

MADISON, WIS.

Dr. Paul Barrows, the beleaguered University of Wisconsin administrator accused in 2003 of sexual harassment, just wants his embarrassing case to end.

But after two years of negative headlines invoking race, politics, university spending and indecent relations, there is still no end in sight.

UW Provost Patrick Farrell sent Barrows a "letter of council" late last month chastising him for "inappropriate actions against two students." Barrows, who has long maintained his innocence and has been cleared once by a university-appointed committee, is appealing the letter and has already filed a slew of lawsuits against the university.

"I will take this as far as I need to dear my reputation and hold those accountable for what they've done to me and to get fairness and justice," Barrows says.

Karen Al-Ashkar, who chaired the appeals committee for the university, says that issuing the letter of council fell within the rights of the provost's office.

In addition to the lawsuits, the case has drawn accusations of poor leadership against UW's president, caused an uproar from the general public over administration salaries and tainted the reputations of the two women who complained that Barrows harassed them.

Some say that diversity initiatives have also taken a hit, in a university where Blacks make up less than 3 percent of the student body. Wisconsin has the lowest high school graduation rate for Blacks of any state, graduating just 41 percent of its Black students, according to a 2002 report by the Manhattan Institute. …

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