The Title IX lawsuit against a UNC Charlotte history professor, Dr. Robert McEachnie, has been settled for $40,000. The lawsuit emerged after a former student made allegations of McEachnie causing emotional distress through predatory behavior, threats to academic success and sexual assault.
The professor contacted the student through social media sites and was even reported to the University according to WSOC-TV Channel 9’s interview with Julie Fosbinder, the former student’s attorney. However, the University allegedly did not act on these claims.
These relations became physical on a 2017 study abroad trip to Israel, and this former student was not the only one to report Title IX violations on this trip.
McEachnie’s defense was the vagueness of the current Improper Relations Policy in place at UNC Charlotte.
The current policy that UNC Charlotte has regarding romantic and sexual relations between students and faculty is said to be the weakest of the UNC school system according to the Executive Committee of the UNC Charlotte chapter of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) most recent memo, as it does not directly ban these types of relations.
According to the AAUP, these relations can never be fully consensual as there is an imbalance of power in favor of the faculty member.
“Beyond being inappropriate, unethical, and exploitative, these relationships endanger the academic freedom of our students,” said the AAUP.
The AAUP suggests that a new policy be created including elements of stronger language such as “prohibits,” speak on conflict of interests, create a system of reporting when a conflict arises and make a clause forbidding relationships with minors.
UNC Charlotte also attempted to have the case dismissed on the technical grounds of having disciplined McEachnie; however, McEachnie was still actively teaching.