Students accuse UOG professor of sexual advances
Just last week KUAM News brought you the story about instances of sexual harassment at the University of Guam, and now we bring you yet another story - not of harassment by an unknown perpetrator, but by a person entrusted with the care of UOG students.
"Late last year, two female students came forward and accused Dr. [Michael] Ehlert of unwanted sexual advances at an off-campus event," confirmed Dr. Robert Underwood, president of UOG. "And so what we did subsequently was immediately put Dr. Ehlert on administrative leave so he wouldn't have any contact with students, and then we conducted an investigation." Dr. Underwood says as a result of the investigation, adverse action was served against the associate professor of psychology.
"The adverse action on him is that he was suspended without pay and kept from coming back in the summer months," the president added. Ehlert is currently on sabbatical leave, and also will not return to UOG this semester.
"One of the students reported it to the Guam Police Department. This didn't happen on campus, so it was really just up to the students to report it or not," said Underwood. He said any unwanted sexual advances from a teacher toward a student is a clear violation of university policy, noting, "Consensual relationships, sexual relationships or even amorous relationships, even when they're consensual, are highly discouraged."
However, UOG professor Ron McNinch thinks these policies need to be more stringent, and even consensual relationships should be restricted by UOG policy. "80% of our students are under the age of 25, most of our faculty are 40 and above; we need to have a pretty strong policy, a stronger policy than the one currently exists," McNinch suggested.
Aside from more stringent policies, McNinch also feels Ehlert should step down from his leadership positions at UOG.
While KUAM News did reach out to Dr. Ehlert for a comment, he had yet to respond.
Dr. Underwood stressed inappropriate conduct is never tolerated at UOG and encourages students to report incidents immediately to the EEO office at 735-2244. "Every incident that is reported is investigated," he promised.
Aside from teaching psychology at the University of Guam, Dr. Ehlert also served as a member of the UOG Faculty Senate, he will be unable to return to his duties as a professor until January of next year.