Amy Wilkins, a female associate professor of sociology at the University of Colorado, has been placed on leave due to accusations of sexual harassment and inappropriate conduct towards CU Boulder students over the past decade.
According to a report from The Chronicle of Higher Education, throughout the years, Wilkins allegedly sent students “intensely personal text messages” and “requested to meet off-campus.” As a result of the allegations, Wilkins was placed on paid administrative leave and banned from the University of Colorado Boulder property on Monday, October 1.
In addition to the paid administrative leave and ban, Wilkins was ordered not to make contact with seven specific people while University of Colorado officials and authorities investigate.
At this time, Wilkins is being investigated for allegations of sexual misconduct and sexual harassment of students, as she is accused of “pressurizing students to engage in inappropriate sexual conduct and conversations.”
The Chronicle of Higher Education reports that one student, who met Wilkins in 2006, accused Wilkins of kissing her and said the relationship “intensely skyrocketed” thereafter.
According to sources close to the investigation, Wilkins is being investigated for sexual misconduct and harassment of people she supervised, in part by pressuring students to engage in inappropriate sexual conduct and conversations.
Interviews with a half-dozen former sociology students at Boulder paint a picture of a scholar who enjoyed having a coterie of fans who shared her interest in issues surrounding sexuality and gender.
Wilkins’s position, from 2014 to 2016, as director of the graduate program in the sociology department, gave her power over students’ teaching assignments and academic progress. So even if they weren’t direct advisees, students couldn’t afford to cross her, the students said.
According to the CU Boulder website, Wilkin’s substantive areas of interest focus on intersectional inequalities (gender, race, class, and sexuality), identities, youth, and the transition to adulthood. Additionally, her university bio states that her research has appeared in Gender & Society, Signs, and Social Psychology Quarterly, and her book, Goths, Wannabes, and Christians: Gender, Race, Class, and Sexuality in Youth Cultures was published in 2008 by the University of Chicago Press.
As for why there has been such a significant increase in instances of teachers having sexual relationships with students, researchers believe that technology is to blame.
According to a report from the Texas Education Association, smartphones make easy for teachers to privately text and talk with students and also make it possible for teachers and students to share explicit images.
SESAME (Stop Educator Sexual Abuse Misconduct & Exploitation) President Terri Miller echoed that sentiment, stating “before cell phones, we knew who our kids were talking to” but today, “kids have their own phones, they’re taking them to bed, and parents need to watch more.”