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Editor’s Note: The Nevada Sagebrush is not a global news source and simply reports on campus happenings. For more information about the conflict in Israel and Gaza, please refer to other, more global media organizations.

Reader discretion advised: This story contains multiple mentions of sexual assault and abuse according to allegations in the court case document. Many public commenters speak on the record about allegations from reading the original court complaint filed by Feifei Fan, a mechanical engineering professor at the university. All information referenced in this article and explained in the previous articles are alleged, only sourced from court documents contained in lawsuits.

Title IX public commenters, presentation and discussion

A total of eight public commenters came to speak on the record in front of the Associated Students of the University of Nevada, Reno senate body regarding the recent allegations of a mechanical engineering professor. Feifei Fan filed a lawsuit against the Board of Regents of the Nevada System of Higher Education on behalf of the university and another lawsuit against mechanical engineering professor, Yanyao Jiang.

“Why doesn’t UNR protect its faculty and students? Why is there a lack of accountability for abusers?” Elena Chau, a computer science and engineering student at the university said, starting the conversation off.

Chau referred to the Fan case and another lawsuit which was brought forward by Tennley Vik, a communications professor on Aug. 15 with complaints of alleged sexual harassment and retaliation. 

“Students consistently express frustration through proper channels only to have the concerns swept under the rug by Title IX and NSHE,” Chau said. “Even when higher authorities like Brian Sandoval have the ability to affect change, we receive vague assurances of action without clear steps to address these issues.”

Chau encouraged ASUN to collaborate with the organization and provide resources for awareness and legal recourse.

Sophie Fliegler was the second commenter who talked about receiving links to 49-page complaint filed by Fan detailing the allegations. The court document was passed around between students and posted on the anonymous social media site YikYak, specifically on the school “Nevada” page. 

“The alleged crimes detailed in Feifei’s complaint were not only upsetting and disgusting, but some of them supposedly happened right here on campus. My school. The place where I have poured countless hours into my studies, met some of my closest friends and where I’ve chosen to dedicate my life for the past three years,” Fliegler said. “I feel extremely disappointed in this school for seemingly denying students and staff protection against criminals when they needed it the most.”

Fiorina Chau, a computer science and engineering student, came back to the table after giving public comment to the ASUN senate last meeting.

She issued “shame” to ASUN senators who were at the protest, but didn’t join the chants and encouraged the others who didn’t show up to listen to their demands and help contribute to their organization.

“UNR and Title IX can and have the justified grounds to investigate Professor Jiang for [the alleged] misconduct and [have] an internal investigation …Sandoval responded last week that there are plans to improve Title IX and that the students’ safety [is] still of high priority,” F. Chau said. “Then show us by investigating Professor Jiang and the other faculty that [allegedly] allowed this to happen: Department Chair Petros Voulgaris, associate professor Eric Wang and Dean Miles Greiner.” 

Evan Robinson, the advocacy director of the ASUN, gave public comment in the Oct. 11 meeting, came to the table to deliver reforms he believes should be added to the resolution which is currently being written by students from the ASUN body.

“First I would like to see protections for students expressing their first amendment right while protesting for this situation,” Robinson said. “Allegedly … professors have begun to threaten students’ grades if they participate in activism regarding the situation.”

Robinson also calls for university policy to prevent staff from hiring people while they are in active litigation regarding sexual harassment, sexual assault or discrimination to prevent additional people becoming victimized while the situation is still being investigated. He adds that he wants to see a timeline of their legal sexual misconduct data release, their plan for a safer campus environment and an outside audit from an independent organization to conduct an investigation of the effectiveness of Title IX. In his final reform request, he asks the ASUN to set aside “A Day of Remembrance” during sexual assault awareness month in April for their organization’s reflection on how the university has reformed Title IX and the safety on campus. 

Tara Hartman, a biomedical engineering major, said it was disheartening to see how Fan’s case and her friends’ cases have been allegedly dismissed and ignored by Title IX. 

“As a woman in engineering, I have experienced more than my fair share of sexist remarks, actions and behaviors here at UNR,” Hartman said. “As students yourselves, we know that you share our concern for promoting safety on campus and we recognize ASUN’s administration is not the problem. However, you could be a major part of the solution.” 

Hartman said their organization wants protections and resources for students who want to come forward due to retaliation efforts as referenced in the book “One Thousand Showers: A University Immersed in a Culture of Retaliation and an Avalanche of Lies” which is about Terri Patraw, former soccer coach at the university who claimed to be a whistleblower on the alleged sexual misconduct at UNR. Information regarding Patraw’s lawsuit can be found here.

“How are students and faculty supposed to feel safe in these environments? How are we supposed to teach and learn these conditions?” Hartman said. “I have friends who are in Doctor Jiang’s classes. How are they supposed to learn in an environment with alleged sexual abusers?” 

Hartman raises the question on why the university is just addressing this issue and making reforms now even though victims allege decades of abuse.

“Words with no action are empty air,” Hartman said.

Zach Hooker voiced similar concerns and “dissatisfaction” about the Title IX issues.

“It is well-known that UNR is notorious for mishandling these situations, with this college being one of six in the nation that has not released Title IX data,” Hooker said. “With this lack of transparency, are we supposed to trust the university to protect students and faculty?” 

Hooker said that the university has let survivors of sexual assault down and the university needs to address the “crisis” occuring immediately, revoicing many reforms his peers asked for. 

Jamie Cox said she chose this university to go to specifically because of the conversations she had about the safety the university provided, but now she does not feel safe at all walking through the campus. 

“If something were to happen to me on campus, I’m not sure this university would support me in my recovery when I feel as though they are not supporting anyone who has gone through sexual assault, including the alleged rapes Miss Feifei went through,” Cox said. 

The final student, Sophia, another mechanical engineering student, came forward summarizing the concerns about the lack of action against the mechanical engineering department based on the allegations. She asks for resignations from Jiang based on the allegations and Brian Sandoval, the president of the university for his alleged negligence of Title IX concerns. She also seeks the investigation of misconduct and disciplinary action against other involved faculty, the release of the Title IX information to victims per request, a special fund to be set up for victims and other reforms already echoed. 

“To a lot of you these demands might sound drastic and kind of crazy … [but] I think it’s crazier that my professors are able to teach while they’re alleged rapists,” she said.

Zeva Edmonson, the new director for the Office of Equal Opportunity and Title IX, came forward to talk about the recent issues after public comments. She had a presentation ready but decided to just have a discussion and talk with the senators about what’s going on.

“I hear the concerns and I appreciate them very much,” Edmonson said. “I know there’s a whole lot of frustration, not just in this room but in the whole campus community.”

Edmonson said there are laws that are put into place to keep some confidentiality with sensitive information, which is why she may not be able to answer some questions. She also said the office has been understaffed and she’s been trying to hire the investigators to get caught up on the backlog. The oldest person there has only been at the office for a year.

She also said if the students want change in policies, this is the time to do it because the Biden administration may change Title IX policies that the Nevada System of Higher Education will already have to reconstruct.

“Again if you want me to come out to you I will. And help get this right, that’s what we want to do,” Edmonson said. “I’ve spent my whole life doing this. It’s not just a job.”

Emma Doty, a senator for the College of Science, asks why there is such high turnover in the office. Edmonson said she thinks some of it is because the office was burdened with taking a lot of cases and falling behind on them. She also says another part of it could be that it takes the “right kind of person” who’s dedicated and can handle the investigations of these cases.

Jefrin Jojan, a senator for the College of Engineering, asks Edmonson if she would support an outside, third-party to look into the investigations that specialize in this. She said she has no problem with that.

Edmonson also added that some people said they didn’t get the results of their case. She said if it was from 2020 onwards and falls under Title IX, the complainant and the respondent are entitled to get the investigative report and the evidence in the case. However, if it was before 2020 and it was not under Title IX, they don’t get the report due to federal law.

Edmonson said if students made the complaint after 2020, they should have received their materials, but she cannot explain why it happened in the past. She said if they haven’t, they will make sure they have access moving forward. 

Kelsea Frobes, the senator for the School of Journalism, asks if there is a way to address the financial inequity between a complainant and respondent in a case, referring to Fan’s case.

Edmonson said the situation can be lopsided if the respondent has an attorney and the complainant has an advisor not trained in law. The university has a pool of advisors as well, but they may also not be trained in the law. Edmonson suggests this to be something to bring up when they take to the NSHE for policy change.

Leaf Acklin, senator for the College of Liberal Arts, asks Edmonson how they can help out with these issues. Edmonson refers to Harley Guerrero, the director for campus and wellness, coming up with the student advisory board idea for Title IX.

Jojan said he wanted to push back on this.

“I think a number of students have very valid grievances with the Title IX office and I don’t think it’s just misinformation or students are just getting angry … and two, the whole aspect of the need to help you out, I feel like it should be the exact opposite,” Jojan said. “You’re the Title IX office, you’re the one with the funding, you’re the one that took the job … when you take a job as the director, as the head of something, you’re taking the responsibility for things that happened in the past.”

Edmonson agrees and replies saying she is responsible for the office, before, now and going forward.

He also questions why Brian Sandoval, president of the university and the office wasn’t talking about the issues before the protest. He says the students should be appreciated for taking action because before no one was talking about this. 

“I think they would’ve tried to … not talk about it, push it under the rug as far as possible,” Jojan said. “The university administration, they just want to look good for PR purposes right?” 

He then asks what other reforms Edmonson is trying to bring to the table. She adds that she had a student who wanted to do a dashboard on statistics that are not sealed for their website. She also said that she doesn’t require student help but that she’s asking for it if students are willing.

As of Oct. 31, a new statistical dashboard was posted on the UNR Title IX website.

Edmonson also adds that she hopes they will be fully staffed in the spring semester, but they need to take their time and pick the right people that are trained for this. However, along with being understaffed, Title IX experienced problems with a backlog also due to cases being filed wrongly in Title IX when they actually fall under ADA or other HR issues. 

However, Edmonson said the load is getting better with their new investigators and the help from the independent group, TNG Consulting, who is auditing and helping them manage the caseload. AIXA was also a group she mentioned in this discussion.

Rachel Perez-Alvarez, the senator for College of Agriculture, Biotechnology, and Natural Resources asked about the issue of the length of time Title IX takes to even talk to a student about their report. 

Edmonson said they now go over everything that’s come in and she gives direction about updating on that report. She said she has heard, even from faculty, that people don’t refer students to Title IX because “nothing ever happened.” But she said now they should be able to deliver a response to a complainant from Title IX in 72 hours.

Jacob Holloway, a previous employee at the university then joins the discussion to talk about his own case and warns the Board of Regents of NSHE “should be worried” and adds “there’s a reason people shouldn’t trust UNR.”

Edmonson responds to Tori Beaulac, senator for the College of Science, that there is nothing stopping a respondent who can receive the files back from posting the investigation materials on social media after the case is over. She said she doesn’t like that and she wishes there was something in place to prevent that.

The Nevada Sagebrush then asked why the university was not transparent about the backlog of cases and why there was no statement released previously. Edmonson said she doesn’t know why and understands it’s perplexing to her as well. However, she knows she has the opportunity to reach out directly to the president and the provost if there is an issue to be talked about.

Evan Robinson, the director of advocacy for ASUN, said as a resident advisor for the university, he doesn’t feel “confident” sending them to the office since they are understaffed. He asks what other resources they have to get these issues resolved during their office’s rebuilding.

Edmonson said there isn’t another department on this campus that has the place to report cases and investigate them, so she said it would probably have to go to their office.

Once a Title IX investigation is complete, Edmonson said they usually have a pool of independent people, like administrative judges, that decide on Title IX cases. But she said they don’t have anything to do with the decision-making. These judges are contracted by the Office of General Counsel at the university.

Sandra Rodriguez, the director of the Center of Student Engagement, suggested creating a flowchart of how the process of Title IX cases work on their website to make things a bit more clear. 

Cox also asked in which priority order older and newer cases were being worked. Edmonson said the older cases were being handled by TNG consulting while the newer ones are being worked as they are coming in now.

This marked the end of the open discussion and presentation, but senators had discussion about the Fan case and Title IX as well. 

Dawson Deal, the director of government affairs, also said his branch is willing to take new Title IX policy reform ideas to NSHE as Edmonson recommended they do.

Frobes, the senator for the School of Journalism, told the table that her constituents were concerned with senators not fully participating in the protests, which made them concerned that the “senate was just trying to show face.” She does agree it is their right to choose to protest, but she is just echoing what her constituents were concerned about, saying senators looked like they were just “showing face.”

“I think that peaceful protest is also a form of protesting,” Fayza Salah, the speaker of the senate, “Like, you don’t necessarily know the comfort level of someone. Some people might not want to chant, might not want to get too close.” 

Frobes agrees saying it’s not her place to judge, but the student body has voiced to her what they are feeling and she is bringing that to the table.

Emma Thomsen, the senator for the College of Education and Human Development, suggested looking to other resources for other aspects of Title IX related reports, for example NevadaCares and making their presence more known. 

Frobes also added that there is a Discord channel strictly informational in regards to the Stand with Feifei organization and their discussions of protest planning. 

Jojan said being more proactive is important. He agrees a resolution is a great idea but suggests the administrators may not read it and there’s no way to verify they actually read the resolutions they write. He suggests meeting with the administration consistently to voice the concerns and encourage change. 

“It’s very nice to think we could have change happen if we just stay silent and do everything the right way,” Jojan said. “I think if you take a look at history, change very often does not come around very peacefully, sitting around, passing resolutions, that’s not how change … happens.”

Salah adds that sending resolution off and it not being read is a genuine concern but reminds senators that it is their responsibility to stay speaking with administrators about it and continuously follow-up with it. 

Tivona Brumfield, a senator for the school of medicine, suggested their liaison for NevadaCares or the whole senate to become a “Packtivist” to receive NevadaCares training. The idea that you can help with events, do outreach and learn things about helping students even if they are not certified. 

Shaffer offered the idea of creating a town hall for students to speak their minds and get information about Title IX and NevadaCares and bring awareness to these subjects.

Mark Meiszburger, senator for the College of Business, adds he showed up at the protest and because the groundbreaking ceremony was a monumental moment for his college, but he was fortunate enough to support both the protest and groundbreaking. 

“I think that showing up and participating should be applauded rather than demonized as something that it’s not,” Meiszburger said.

Frobes said she was just relaying the concerns of her constituents, but she told the table to “take it as [they] will.”

Martin said it would be very proactive to meet consistently with Edmonson and working with Harley Guerrero, director of campus wellness, to create the student advisory board is what they need. 

“It’s been a messy past, no doubt,” Martin said. “But I think that with our help, we can make sure it’s not going to be a mess in the future.”

In public comment at the end of the meeting, Robinson said he wasn’t satisfied with the senator’s discussion and he wanted to see more advocating for their requests for change.

Israel-Gaza public comment and discussion 

Amir Ghuman, an international business student, said he came to the table because he knows the senators are committed to providing a safe place for all students on campus. 

“There is a big war going on in Israel and Gaza,” Ghuman said. “I wanted to ask all of you guys to provide a safe place for us. Muslims, Arabs and anybody who even supports humanity in general … We’re here to show support for humanity and … we want you guys to actually show your support [for] us.”

Aween Ali, senator for the College of Engineering, brought this discussion piece to the table at the end of the meeting because she has received information from her constituents receiving hate on campus about this issue. 

“What can we do to support the Muslim Student Association?” Salah asked.

Ali said becoming informed on the subject and making sure if senators see something they’ll say something about it. 

“If we collectively work together and come up with ideas that can help not just Muslim students, but Jewish students as well because I know that they are also very much affected by this,” Ali said. 

Frobes also reminds the table that ignorance could result in hate and education is important on the matter.

Adam Ahmed, senator for the College of Science, asked what specifically is meant by “education” here in the Israel-Gaza discussion and whether Ali is planning to approach that historically or currently.

Ali said looking at trusted sources is important. “There are victims, innocent people that have died from both sides … but at the same time we need to look at what’s happening and who’s affected by this and realize that you’re not making these assumptions and you’re not dipping yourself in misinformation.” 

Martin said taking on the education themselves is important and ignorance is going to happen, but he wants to focus on the relation to UNR and that hate is not tolerated at the university. 

“To report a bias or hate incident at the University of Nevada, Reno, call 775-784-1547. For the bias or hate reporting line, 775-784-1030,” Martin said. “We don’t accept hate on either side … And if you see something, say something.” 

Salah reminds the table that getting education is not a senator’s choice. “Ignorance will hamper your ability to advocate for your constituents … you should be seeking to educate yourself on the matter.”

Frobes said she wants to best know how to support the people around her and help her constituents feel safe, but she feels she couldn’t help them if she isn’t educated on what is happening with reliable sources.

Diana Landazuri, senator for the College of Business, wanted to clarify that protestors from MSA were protected. Ali said faculty was overseeing this and they had previously discussed an action plan to do a silent protest as they felt they were not being recognized by the statement from the chancellor of NSHE.

“The reason why [protestors] did decide to stay silent and not say anything was because [the protestors] felt like words were not enough to describe what was happening,” Ali said.

Tori Beaulac, senator for the College of Science, said ASUN staying quiet is never good and says saying something about supporting everyone is important and reminding the campus that they accept everyone. Vera Vaz, senator for the College of Science, also suggested that she liked the idea of ASUN releasing a statement, mostly to show support for all students and show them what resources they can go to.

Rodriguez, the director of the Center for Engagement, also gave public comments reminding senators to educate themselves. 

“Stop waiting to be spoon fed please,” Rodriguez said. “All of you know professors. As you professors, to purposely feed in this stuff into your courses if it’s possible … we’re literally surrounded by intellectuals, by people who are educated.” 

Jaedyn Young can be reached at or on Twitter @jaedyn_young3.

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