Student under investigation for criminal sexual assault suspended
On April 29, Pradeep Gujjula, a 24-year-old graduate student who inappropriately touched a Central Michigan University staff member, was suspended from attending classes until his hearing. Associate Vice President of Student Affairs Tony Voisin issued the suspension.
A crowd of 20 students demonstrated April 29 outside the Fabiano Botanical Garden in protest of the student.
CMU Police Department officers said the student touched the chest of a staff member April 15 in an academic building. Gujjula was arrested at his off-campus residence April 22. He is free on bond. Following his arrest, he was restricted from all academic buildings except where he had class.
Students Advocating Gender Equality organized the protest, emphasizing interim measures the university administration can take while in the process of sexual misconduct investigation. These can include no contact orders, residential reassignments, changes to employment assignments, changes to academic assignments, counseling, or temporary suspension or temporary delay of graduation or other academic progress.
"We're hoping to show the administration that allowing a known perpetrator of sexual assault to be on campus is not 'taking care' of each other and not something to be proud of," said SAGE president and Ortonville senior Hannah Mollett.
At the protest, students shouted several phrases such as, "We pay 20K a year, we shouldn't have to live in fear," and "If staff aren't safe, no one's safe."
One protestor said he was there to make a point.
"An Indian guy has been accused," said India graduate student Ayush Singh. "We don't support him. We treat women with respect and dignity. He should be suspended."
Following the protest, Director of the Office of Civil Rights and Institutional Equity and Title IX Coordinator Katherine Lasher gave a statement.
"We do take the safety of our students and campus community seriously," she said. "We have been working diligently to ensure their safety throughout this process. As new information comes to light, we are looking at it and addressing it appropriately."
She could not comment on if the student was still allowed in academic buildings. Under FERPA, she is unable to comment about specific facts having to do with the case, however she emphasized the work her office has done so far.
Lasher said suspending a student as an interim measure is a serious one to take.
"It would be if there has been multiple accounts of sexual assault," she said. "If we found that an individual had committed multiple acts, then we might look at if a suspension is appropriate."