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The University of Minnesota Board of Regents has settled with the Minnesota Department of Human Rights (MDHR) after a professor sexually harassed a graduate student. 

In a news release on Friday, the MDHR said its investigation found that a professor with the university's Humphrey School of Public Affairs used his position of power to sexually harass a graduate student in 2018. The professor made sexual comments in front of her, told her about sex he'd had, commented on her appearance in front of her classmates, told her he wanted to be her boyfriend, and asked her to move into his home.

The settlement requires the Humphrey School of Public Affairs to pay the graduate student $75,000 and allow her to complete her degree tuition-free. The university also has to take action to prevent sexual harassment, including providing harassment and bystander training to students and faculty, send quarterly communications reminding faculty of their responsibility to report harassment, and distribute the university's sexual harassment policy to students at the start of each academic year. 

“Schools should be places where students go to learn more about the world and what kind of person they’re going to be. They cannot be places where professors sexually harass students,” MDHR Commissioner Rebecca Lucero said. “What should have been a safe and sacred relationship between a professor and a student instead became an unsafe and abusive space. Sexual harassment must stop. Students deserve better.”

The MDHR says the "unequal power dynamic" between the two was apparent, noting she was his student and reported directly to him as his research assistant. The professor had influence over her grades, employment, reputation within the school and her career after college. 

The professor violated the Minnesota Human Rights Act, which prohibits sexual harassment, MDHR said. 

MDHR will monitor the U of M for four years to ensure it complies with the settlement agreement.

This marks the third sexual harassment case the MDHR has announced this week, which it says demonstrates "sexual harassment is pervasive and persistent."

Related [Dec. 14]: Human Rights department joins sexual assault victim's suit against McDonald's franchisee

If you believe you are the victim of sexual harassment or any other type of discrimination covered under the Minnesota Human Rights Act, call the Discrimination Helpline at 1-833-454-0148 or submit this online form.

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