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Some faculty at the University of Georgia, Athens, are complaining about the selection of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas as undergraduate commencement speaker in light of charges that the administration has been slow to respond to allegations of sexual harassment. Janet E. Frick, associate professor in the psychology department, alluding to the allegations of sexual harassment aired by Anita Hill at Thomas’ 1991 confirmation hearing, suggested Thomas be invited to speak next year instead. ”There have been repeated accusations [of sexual harassment] and an apparent lack of institutional resolve to act,” Frick said. “To invite someone involved in the most high profile sexual harassment case of the twentieth century is just poor timing.” According to reports published in the student newspaper, The Red and Black, and confirmed by the administration, allegations of sexual harassment have resulted in one professor being put on administrative leave and another resigning. The former women’s golf coach, Todd McCorkle, left last year in the midst of allegations he was offensive when speaking to his players. The administrative has made several reforms in response to the allegations. Thomas, who is active with the university’s Foundation Fellows scholarship program, has many defenders on campus. He addressed the University of Georgia School of Law graduating class in 2003. Rebecca White, dean of the law school, called Thomas “a man of integrity.” “It is difficult to believe that fair minded persons of goodwill would object to having a United States Supreme Court justice serve as a university’s commencement speaker,” wrote White in an email. “This is even more the case when the objections purport to be based on unsubstantiated allegations made 17 years ago about remarks supposedly made years earlier.” Chuck Toney, spokesman for the university, dismissed complaints about Thomas addressing the graduates as “politically motivated.” “We are honored to have Justice Thomas here. He has been a good friend of the University of Georgia,” Toney said.

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