By Melissa Proulx, Staff Writer
On Wednesday, Feb. 18, Student Body President Joe Sweeney released a statement calling for German professor Edward Larkin to resign and inform his students of his past crime.
“Students have a right to know if their professor has a history of exposing himself,” Sweeney wrote in the letter.
Larkin was reinstated this semester after his three-year suspension from teaching at the university was lifted in January. Larkin had been banned after exposing himself to a mother and her teenage daughter at a Milford Market Basket in 2009. Larkin was found guilty of indecent exposure as a result, and he paid a $600 fine in addition to undergoing a psychiatric evaluation as well as 10 hours of counseling.
He did not have to register as a sex offender.
Though the university had originally tried to fire him after the incident, an arbitrator was able to prove that the crime was not severe enough for termination.
“As an educational institution, UNH must believe in a transformative spirit,” Larkin said. “Educational institutions should be guided by the principle that a misstep, even a serious one, is not grounds for banishment from the community. There must always be the possibility of such institutions of learning.”
However, Larkin, who was sent a copy of the letter by this reporter, said that he had already told his students of the incident.
“…[In] my classes, I have talked about my wrongdoing with my students,” Larkin said. “So far, they do not seem to find it an obstacle to their learning. They are engaged with the material, asking insightful questions, and show an overall high level of maturity. I think we have developed a very productive working relationship, and I am grateful to have such students.”
Sweeney’s statement came a day after Alona Brosh, a junior at UNH, wrongly accused Larkin of being a sex offender during President Mark Huddleston’s State of the University. During the speech, Huddleston had allowed for students to ask questions in a town hall style format.
“…The university did its best to avoid that situation,” Huddleston said in response. “We were directed to do what we’ve done by an arbitrator. I think that we provided a fair amount of notice. This is not a situation where I think most people are unaware of that story and of the circumstances.”
Huddleston also apologized for not being able to answer the question more directly, saying that he was not able to comment further with a lawyer there.
In previous articles, Erika Mantz, director of media relations for UNH, had confirmed that Larkin was back at UNH and had been with the school since 1986 at the time of the incident. She did not, however, respond to multiple requests for comments about the letter and UNH’s opinion on the matter.
Brosh’s question was the only one of its kind during the SOTU. Sweeney also said that he hasn’t had many people approach him with concerns about Larkin, but “those who have (have) been very vocal.”
“I felt a tipping point yesterday during the SOTU because the question was asked and I realized I could do a lot more about this situation in ways the university could not,” Sweeney said.
Sweeney said that “students have a right to know who they are being taught by” and hopes to see a policy change at the university as a result. Currently, professors or lecturers are not required to inform students of their previous records for cases like this one.
“It’s something I hope to change and it’s something I’ll advocate for after my term is up,” Sweeney said.
But despite this, Larkin said that he has no plans to resign.
“It should be enough to express deep regret, to accept an appropriately severe punishment, and, as Mr. Sweeney desires, to move on,” Larkin said. “I will leave the university when I feel that I have nothing more to contribute to its mission.”