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St. Petersburg State University graduates demand official condemnation of sexual relationships between students and faculty members


The 2020 graduating class of St. Petersburg State University (SPBGU) have published an open letter denouncing sexual harassment, psychological abuse, and sexism at higher education institutions.  

The authors of the appeal say that during their studies they “were witnesses to romantic relationships between [male/female students] and higher education instructors,” and some of them were even in such relationships. They also faced incidents of sexism on the part of instructors (the university’s 2019 graduates made similar complaints).

The graduates also recalled the murder of SPBGU graduate student, Anastasia Yeshchenko, who was killed by her boyfriend Oleg Sokolov, a former professor at the university. “Sokolov’s relationships with students in the faculty have been known for a long time, but no measures were taken,” the authors of the letter write. According to them, the university leadership consider relationships between teachers and students a private matter.

The authors of the appeal called on the university’s Rector, Nikolay Kropachev, to acknowledge that teachers abuse their official positions in their relationships with undergraduates and graduate students. They are demanding that SPBGU officially state in its code of conduct that these relationships are unacceptable, and create a section of the university’s website where students can anonymously report harassment.

On May 13, the student outlet Doxa published an open letter from undergraduate and graduate students of Moscow State University, demanding that the university develop an official mechanism for protecting students from harassment from faculty members. Doxa had previously published a series of articles revealing systemic sexual harassment within the philology faculty.

Moscow State University refused to carry out an investigation into the reported incidents of faculty members harassing students. However, the Ministry of Science and Higher Education said that these reports should be investigated on an individual basis.

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