Student at the centre of sexual harassment claims admits to propositioning staff

The female student says she sent abusive emails to her proctor after she was threatened with suspension. Photo / Getty
The female student says she sent abusive emails to her proctor after she was threatened with suspension. Photo / Getty

The University of Auckland student suspended after emailing a lecturer about having sex in Bali admits propositioning another university staff member and sending an abusive email to the proctor.

The 30-year-old female student was suspended for "repeatedly sending inappropriate emails to staff", a university spokeswoman confirmed today.

The development follows the sensational revelation by the Herald on Sunday that the woman had emailed a lecturer, asking: "Would you like to have sex in Bali?"

A second staff member had also been propositioned, the university said.

"The finding of sexual harassment by the proctor relates to the fact the student propositioned two staff members on separate occasions," the university spokeswoman said today.

"After she propositioned the second staff member, she was instructed not to have any further contact with those staff members on matters not directly connected with her education.

"However, the student ignored this instruction and continued to send inappropriate and abusive emails to university staff. As a result of this behaviour she was suspended."

The student says the other incident referred to by the university happened at the start of 2015.

"He wasn't my lecturer, he was a full-time student and a part-time tutor. I feel like they're dragging out my past.

"I sent two emails, I initially emailed to see if he was interested, and when he replied to say he was seeing someone, I sent a follow-up, like a goodbye, with a photo saying if you're single in future, hit me up."

The woman says the early 2015 incident wasn't investigated and the man has since invited her to connect him on social media.

"He only reported it because he thought he had to. There was no allegation raised, he was doing his job saying there had been a connection above standard."

I let rip at her and the next thing I'm being investigated for harassment.
Suspended student

In response to the university's claim she was "repeatedly sending inappropriate emails to staff", she admits the most recent case in March of this year saw her send an abusive email to the proctor out of "frustration".

"I did abuse her in an email. The proctor came at me sending me repeated instructions, 'You will obey me, or risk suspension' and I acknowledged the situation really early on. I kept saying please leave me alone and asked for a new proctor, but she kept saying I had to attend meetings or risk suspension and a $5000 fine.

"I let rip at her and the next thing I'm being investigated for harassment."

The suspended student is not allowed back at university until next year, a punishment for not complying with the disciplinary process triggered by the teacher's sexual harassment complaint.

The woman claimed she sent an email in March that was straightforward, polite and non-threatening in its approach.

It said: "It's rather forward of me but I wondered if you and your wife are the open, experimental type?

"Bali Indonesia rendezvous [sic] in July if you are interested. I've made a booking for a week here before I go diving in the komodo islands :) I'd like to spend the week getting to know you intimately."

She told her lecturer if her attention was unwanted he should ignore her message. "No need to compute a rejection letter! And I would never expect you to be unfair, I'm happy to wait until after the exam."

The lecturer emailed her back to say "you wrote not to worry about crafting a reply, but I just want to confirm that my only interest is for you (and all the other students enrolled in [course name withheld] for that matter) to succeed academically."

The student emailed again, saying she had acted on a spiritual connection.

"It's perfectly fine that you chose not to act on it as a teacher and as a married person. That's your choice, of course," she emailed.

The lecturer sent a second response, saying he felt the contact was "highly inappropriate".

"Our interactions will be limited to the academic side of [course name withheld] and i have NO interests in any other forms. If that turns out not possible, you force me to report these matters to the appropriate channels in the university."

The student responded saying she felt the lecturer's reply was "outrageously intimidating and entirely unnecessary."

"You make me feel that expressing a crush on someone is some great and inappropriate violation of your rights and you threaten to invoke authority as though you are some oppressed victim," she said.

The student said she intended to appeal against her suspension.

- NZ Herald

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