Toro: Sexual Misconduct Reports ‘Not The End Of Conversation’

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Toro: Sexual Misconduct Reports ‘Not The End Of Conversation’

Sarah Willson, Editor-in-Chief

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Just over 24 hours after the sexual misconduct findings against theater professors Joshua Perlstein and Thomas Delventhal were released, Central Connecticut President Dr. Zulma Toro held an open forum to discuss the future of the university.

The reports by the CCSU-led Task Force and law firm Shipman and Goodwin were released last Tuesday after a nine-month-long investigation that contained thousands of documents, emails, text messages and conducted interviews with dozens of faculty, staff and current and former students.

The reports stated that there was significant evidence Perlstein was untruthful about having a sexual relationship with a student for an “extended period of time.” The report also said he had a “history of questionable interactions with female students” and was “involved in sexual misconduct with one or more students.”

“It was not easy for me to read those reports,” Dr. Toro said in front of over 100 students and faculty in a packed Memorial Hall. “But I have to tell you that I am convinced now more than ever that we are going to emerge from these situations stronger than before.”

Dr. Toro opened the forum by explaining the steps CCSU will take to “rebuild” the university.

Some changes include the regenerating of both the Office of Diversity and Equity as well as Human Resources. In order to accomplish that, Dr. Toro said she has been talking with “experts across the nation” to seek their best advice as to what is the best path forward.

As of now, Diversity Associate Sarah Dodd will oversee the Office of Diversity and Equity, who lost its Chief Diversity Officer after Dr. Toro received the report findings.

Along with that, Dr. Toro said she has also directed Chief Administrative Officer George Claffey to start the process of identifying an “institution-wide” reporting monitoring and tracking system that will facilitate all complaints in a single place. That system will be used by the Office of Diversity and Equity, Human Resources and Student Conduct.

Though the reports may have been released over a week ago, one of senior theater major Erin Sagnelli’s concerns was as to how Dr. Toro will support the theater department in the face of criticism.

“I’m going to support the theater department,” Dr. Toro responded. “The show must go on.”

Dr. Toro also said that the university will send out press releases to keep students updated, adding that students in the department will have the opportunity to purchase large advertisements for each production. Dr. Toro also said CCSU is pursuing a partnership with Hartford Stage.

Alongside this, Dr. Toro also said that she will be hiring two tenured faculty members to ensure that classes and productions resume as normal.

Most students appeared to not be shocked by Perlstein’s dismissal, noting him as often “creepy,” but some students, like Jessica MacLean, said they were “shocked” to learn of Deleventhal’s dismissal.

MacLean said that Delventhal was like a “father figure” and that she was looking forward to taking classes with him for the spring semester.

Like those at the forum, Dr. Toro said she is aiming to move forward to create an open and honest conversation about sexual misconduct.

“This is not the end of the conversation. This is only the beginning,” Dr. Toro said. “No matter how much I work, no matter how much I do as president, I cannot change the culture by myself. I need all of you to join me in achieving that goal.”