The University of Iowa responded Tuesday following hundreds of social media posts from women saying they were sexually harassed online and in person by a man who is also a student at the university.
A single Twitter post Sunday afternoon had a simple request: Retweet, or share, the tweet if you had been hit on by the man.
The single tweet spawned 1,200 retweets and drew 220 comments, mostly from women sharing screenshots of unwanted, and some overtly sexual, comments they received from the man in question through social media.
Other tweets showed women sharing stories about being sexually assaulted and stalked by the man.
The official University of Iowa Twitter account, @uiowa, was tagged in many of the tweets and sent individual responses urging those who interacted with the man to contact University Counseling Services, the Office of Sexual Misconduct Response Coordinator, the Rape Victim Advocacy Program and other resources. The tweets also stated that UI had contacted the Dean of Students office.
Early Tuesday morning, the @uiowa Twitter account shared this message:
“The University of Iowa does not condone sexual misconduct of any kind. The university takes these allegations seriously and is working to learn more. Under Iowa law, we are not able to disclose the status of an investigation. Thank you for your patience as we follow our standard processes to address this matter.”
The Press-Citizen is not publishing the man’s name, though he is listed as a College of Liberal Arts and Sciences student in the UI online directory.
Multiple calls to University of Iowa officials were not returned immediately Tuesday. A call to the Iowa City Police Department’s public information officer was also not immediately returned.
The Twitter conversation started with women sharing their stories about the man adding them on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and other social media platforms without having ever met them. He’d message women asking to meet.
Many women would block the man on Facebook, only for him to reach out to them again through another Facebook page, according to the social media posts.
Some women shared more troubling instances with the individual, including stalking and sexual assault. Others said over Twitter that he sent messages to women in Illinois and Oklahoma, far beyond the scope of UI.
Reach Zach Berg at 319-887-5412, [email protected] or follow him on Twitter at @ZacharyBerg.
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