San Jose State Students Plan to Protest Return of Professor Punished for Sexual Harassment

A student revolt is building after San Jose State University reinstated a professor who had been on leave after being found to have sexually harassed a student.

An internal SJSU memo obtained by NBC Bay Area says counselor education professor Lewis Aptekar is set to teach two courses when classes resume next week.

Some student said they are upset because Aptekar was not the instructor listed when they signed up for the class. In addition, dropping the class could cause students problems academically.

"Being who I am and feeling very uncomfortable being in his presence, being in his classroom," SJSU graduate student Celina Cesena said. "I feel like I have to drop that class so I don't have to put myself in that situation."

Cesena and other graduate students, Valerie Lamb and Diana Castro, said they were outraged to find out Aptekar will now teach the counselor education classes they signed up for when a different instructor was listed.

"If they're not going to do anything about, then I will," Lamb said.

A school investigation determined Aptekar sexually harassed a student by trying to date her. The college said before his leave, he was suspended for two weeks, demoted from department chair and had to take a diversity course.

Students said it is not enough.

"I wouldn't feel comfortable sitting in a one-on-one office in his office hours," Castro said.

The students said a sit-in demonstration is planned for Monday, Aug. 28, at Sweeney Hall to protest Aptekar's return.

"We don't want him back in the department," Lamb said.

NBC Bay Area has not been able to reach Aptekar for comment.

San Jose State University said it is listening to student concerns and thinking through its next steps.

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