University of Massachusetts to investigate congressional candidate for allegations of inappropriate relations with students
The University of Massachusetts is launching an investigation into allegations that Holyoke, Mass., Mayor Alex Morse (D), who is currently challenging Rep. Richard E. Neal (D-Mass) in a Democratic primary, had sexual relationships with students while teaching at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst.
Morse taught a course in Urban Government and Politics during multiple semesters over the course of five years. He most recently taught at the school during the fall semester in 2019.
He was accused by three groups of College Democrats this week of using his position to coerce students into sexual relationships, according to multiple reports. The groups disinvited him from future events.
The groups made the accusations in a letter first obtained by the Massachusetts Daily Collegian.
The university in a Saturday statement said that they launched the investigation to determine if Morse’s actions violated Title IX, which bans discrimination on the basis of sex.
“The university’s policy on consensual relationships between faculty and students notes that dating or sexual relationships between faculty and students or post-docs are inherently problematic because of the unequal power dynamic between the parties to the relationship, the responsibility of faculty for evaluating students’ work, the possibility that other faculty and students may be adversely affected, and because such relationships diminish the trust and respect that ordinarily characterize the faculty-student relationship and are therefore inconsistent with the educational mission of the university,” the university stated.
In a letter sent to the student groups responding to the accusations, Morse apologized “to anyone I have made feel uncomfortable,” CNN reported.
“I want to be clear that every relationship I’ve had has been consensual. However, I also recognize that I have to be cognizant of my position of power,” Morse wrote.
“Growing up gay and closeted in a small city like Holyoke, I struggled with accepting my sexuality, and in high school, I had a hard time finding other openly gay students,” Morse continued. “As I’ve become more comfortable with myself and my sexuality, like any young, single, openly gay man, I have had consensual adult relationships, including some with college students.”
Morse’s campaign has been boosted by support from progressive groups, including Justice Democrats, the Working Families Party, Indivisible and the Sunrise Movement.
The Hill has reached out to Morse’s campaign for comment.