November 12, 2019

University implements changes after game design allegations

The university now seeks new game design faculty after 13 students and former faculty released statements alleging a former professor of professional misconduct. 

Senior Nicholas Fuhrmann said he would have dropped out of college if he didn’t have an English minor to back up his former game design major. 

Fuhrmann, along with 13 other students and former faculty, released testimonials on May 9 alleging a game design professor of professional and sexual misconduct. President Stroble wrote in an email to the Webster community on May 16 that the university will investigate the allegations against the professor, Joshua Yates. 

Yates resigned earlier this summer, according to Michael Breault, an assistant game design professor. 

Breault held a meeting on Tuesday to discuss the future of game design classes and the changes they have implemented. The university bought 17 new computers and hired two additional adjunct faculty to teach game design. Breault said the university is looking for a new full-time professor to start in the spring. 

Fuhrmann said the quality of the game design program did not warrant him paying for the classes. 

Junior Jared McClintok said he agreed with what his fellow game design majors wrote in their testimonials. McClintok did not write a testimonial. 

McClintok said Yates would rarely teach, or he would tell his students to look up lessons on YouTube.

“I didn’t want to pay money for a class to watch YouTube videos on how to do it when he should be teaching as an instructor,” McClintok said. 

Breault told students at the meeting if they felt like they didn’t get a quality education in a class where the professor didn’t teach, they may audit the class for free. Breault advised students to come talk to him first. 

Some students wrote that Yates’ classroom behavior made them want to change their major. 

Student John Fetcho, a former game design major, wrote in his testimonial that teachers like Rob Santos and John Coveyou made him hesitant to switch. 

Santos resigned from Webster in protest of the alleged sexual harassment and predatory academic misconduct, according to his resignation letter. He posted the letter in a Dropbox folder along with the other testimonials. 

Title IX Investigation

Former student Tamsen Reed filed a Title IX complaint against Yates in April 2018. The case had yet to be resolved until after she graduated this May. 

Reed told The Journal in May that she learned from classmates that Yates commented on the way she dressed to class. She added that the same sources said that Yates described her outfits as more revealing as the semester rolled on. 

Reed did not address requests for comment from The Journal

Stroble wrote that the university took the competence of its staff and adequacy of its Title IX investigations very seriously. Stroble asked for patience as the university investigated the allegations. 

Webster University is committed to providing a safe and productive learning environment free from unlawful discrimination of any kind,” the statement wrote. 

The U.S. Department’s Office of Civil Rights (OCR) opened an investigation into Webster on June 19 under “Title IX-Sexual Harassment.”

The university said in a press release sent to The Journal on July 8 that it does not comment or share details on any Title IX case as is compliant with federal law. It will not comment on the OCR investigation as well, the press release wrote. 

Future of Game Design

Breault said the school will add more classes and try to broaden the game design curriculum. 

Furhman will graduate with his English degree this winter. 

The students still do not feel completely heard despite the release of their statements, Fuhrmann said prior to the meeting.  

“I would say we were heard in a sense that Joshua Yates is now gone, but there’s been almost no recognition of fault,” Fuhrmann said. “That’s what people in my group were in the very least hoping for.”

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