SDSU Students Protest Professor Accused of Sexual Harassment

Students gathered after an NBC 7 Investigates story featuring Spanish Professor Vincent Martin

More than twenty SDSU students marched through campus Tuesday to protest the behavior of Vincent Martin, a Spanish professor who university investigators say sexually harassed a female student.

Martin was the subject of an NBC 7 Investigates story after he was accused of sending hundreds of suggestive text messages to a young female student, violating the state education code, according to SDSU investigative documents.

The protest was organized by the Andrea O'Donnell Womym's Outreach Association. Students created a Facebook event for the protest called “We Want Answers, We Want Action.”

The sign-carrying protesters had planned to picket outside Martin's classroom and urge his students to boycott Tuesday's class. But when they learned Martin had canceled his class for the day, they marched silently to his office in a nearby building.

They covered his office door and adjoining wall with posters criticizing Martin's behavior and what they say is the university's lack of appropriate discipline of the professor.

[G]SDSU Students Protest Spanish Professor

The students then walked to SDSU's administration building, where they continued their peaceful, silent protest outside the president's office.

The student who came forward and spoke to NBC 7 Investigates about being sexually harassed by Martin said the university has not done enough to punish him for his behavior. She saved dozens of text messages and emails from Martin and shared them with NBC 7 Investigates.

In a statement, SDSU’s Chief Communications Officer Greg Block said, “While we appreciate that the campus community has significant interest when allegations of sexual harassment are made, it is also important that the process for adjudicating claims be a fair one and that all facts be heard."

The student's allegations were confirmed, in part, by an August 2014 “Notice of Investigative Outcome” from the SDSU Office of Employee Relations and Compliance.

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SDSU Notice of Investigation Outcome (Text)

The student told NBC 7 Investigates Martin had a reputation for provocative behavior with female students. But because she said she needed two of his classes to finish her Spanish major, and felt confident she could keep her distance if Martin tried to cross the line of appropriate behavior, she enrolled in the class anyway.

A document obtained by NBC 7 Investigates reveals a university investigator interviewed Martin, three other SDSU faculty members and 14 other students.

The investigation confirmed the student’s allegations and "concluded that Dr. Martin engaged in conduct of a sexually-oriented nature ... sufficiently severe to constitute sexual harassment" in violation of the state education code.

Click here to read the complete NBC 7 Investigates story.

NBC 7 Investigates confirmed Martin, who teaches Spanish literature and grammar at SDSU, continues to teach at the university.

Martin did not respond to repeated requests for comment about the allegations, but his attorney said Martin disagrees with the findings of that investigation and will challenge them.

SDSU declined our request for an interview and, citing privacy rights, would not provide any details about Martin's case.

For those reasons, it is unknown if Martin has been — or will be — disciplined as a result of the findings of that investigation.

Read the full statement from SDSU in response to Tuesday’s protest below:

“Given the nature of sexual harassment complaints and our desire to encourage individuals to come forward with complaints without fear that the complaint will become public, the university does not comment on specific complaints or investigations. While we appreciate that the campus community has significant interest when allegations of sexual harassment are made, it is also important that the process for adjudicating claims be a fair one and that all facts be heard. Any person accused also has rights, which includes privacy in connection with personnel matters. They also have rights, under either collective bargaining agreements or by law, to respond to any allegations, which could include appealing any disciplinary action. The university is committed to protecting the rights of all concerned. We urge the campus community to allow any required process to take place.”

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