Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

UMass to launch investigation into Alex Morse following alleged relationships with students while lecturer

The University “has no plans to rehire Morse”
Mayor Alex Morse Official Facebook Page
Mayor Alex Morse Official Facebook Page

The University of Massachusetts is launching an investigation into Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse’s alleged “serious and deeply concerning” behavior with students while he was a lecturer at the school, officials announced Saturday afternoon.

The announcement came one day after it was reported that College Democrats of Massachusetts had severed ties with the mayor, alleging that Morse had inappropriate sexual relations with college students and used “his position of power for romantic or sexual gain.”

In the letter, which was obtained by the Massachusetts Daily Collegian, the group alleged that Morse had “sexual contact with college students, including at UMass Amherst, where he teaches, and the greater Five College Consortium.”

Consensual relationships, such as dating or sexual relationships, between faculty and students are “inherently problematic because of the unequal power dynamic between the parties to the relationship,” and “the responsibility of faculty for evaluating students’ work,” the University wrote in a statement.

Such relationships are also prohibited because they “diminish the trust and respect that ordinarily characterize the faculty-student relationship,” school officials said.

Morse was hired as a political science lecturer in 2014, according to the statement. He has taught every year since, last serving as an adjunct professor for Urban Government and Politics in Fall 2019.

He is not currently employed by the University, school officials said. The University “has no plans to rehire Morse.”

As a result of the allegations, the University is launching an “immediate review” to determine whether Morse violated the school’s policy or federal Title lX law during his time as a lecturer.

Morse addressed the allegations in a statement to the Collegian Friday evening, referencing the unequal the unequal power dynamic and apologizing “to anyone I have made feel uncomfortable.”

“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 said in the statement.

UMass was unaware of the allegations prior to the report of the College Democrat’s letter, officials said.

The allegations come in the midst of Morse’s battle for Massachusetts’ 1st Congressional District against longtime seat-holder Rep. Richard Neal. The 31-year-old politician was elected as the first openly gay mayor and youngest mayor in the city’s history nine years ago and has since branded himself as a grassroots politician working to rebuild a struggling city.

The University has reached out to provide support and resources to students, the school said.

Matt Berg is the Managing Editor and can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @mattberg33.

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