Northwestern athletic director resigns amid harassment case

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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 groped, harassed and lifted. 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 brought them down. reported.

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In his college thesis, 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 to him and Heather Obering, the associate sports director of marketing, at the same meeting.

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Polisky denied the allegations in an email sent by his lawyers to the New York Times on Friday, as did a representative for Obering. The two decided to close the case, along with 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 limiting hairstyles were removed and cheerleaders were no longer required to participate in tailgates, university spokeswoman Jeri B. Ward wrote in an email. at the Times Thursday. Bonnevier’s contract was not renewed in 2020 after it was found to violate the university’s discrimination and harassment policy, Ward said.

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“The bottom line is whether Me Too and Black Lives Matter will make sense on college campuses, and how big donors will influence student safety,” Caitlin Fitz, professor of history who worked on letters and protests against the hiring of Polisky. , said Wednesday in a telephone interview.