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Northwestern Athletic Director Resigns Amid Backlash Over Harassment Case

Northwestern Athletic Director Resigns Amid Backlash Over Harassment Case
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Northwestern Athletic Director Resigns Amid Backlash Over Harassment Case

Northwestern Athletic Director Resigns Amid Backlash Over Harassment Case

Hayden Richardson, a member of the 2018-2020 squad, filed a complaint in January 2021 against the university, its Assistant Title IX coordinator, its associate athletic director for marketing, Polisky and Bonnevier, claiming she had been tampered with , harassed and raised. without his permission by drunk fans and alumni at college-sponsored events and year-end parties. She said in the lawsuit that she was encouraged to continue taking photos and mingling with potential donors to secure funds for the university, even though she had raised concerns about these actions to Bonnevier and Polisky.

The lawsuit, filed in a U.S. District Court in the state of Illinois, also argues that the Title IX office violated federal policy by delaying a formal investigation into these actions more than a year after Richardson reported them.

In his college dissertation, which details his experiences and those of other cheerleaders, Richardson wrote that in January 2019, members of his team met with Polisky to voice concerns about tailgating. He replied, “What did you expect as a cheerleader? She added that Polisky accused two teammates of fabricating evidence when they sent her 16 anonymous reports of harassment and Heather Obering, associate athletic director for marketing, at the same meeting.

Polisky denied the allegations on Friday in an email sent by his lawyers to the New York Times, as did a representative for Obering. Both decided to close the case, as well as the university. A Bonnevier lawyer did not respond to requests for comment.

Polisky and Obering forwarded complaints from the January 2019 meeting to the university’s Equity Office, which investigated. Later in 2019, policies restricting hairstyles were removed and cheerleaders were no longer required to participate in tailgates, university spokeswoman Jeri B. Ward wrote on Thursday in a report. -mail to the Times. Bonnevier’s contract was not renewed in 2020 after she was found guilty of violating the university’s discrimination and harassment policy, Ward said.

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“It’s ultimately a question of whether Me Too and Black Lives Matter will make sense on college campuses, and also what influence major donors will have on student safety,” Caitlin Fitz, a history professor who worked on letters and protests against the hiring of Polisky. , said Wednesday in a telephone interview.

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