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“The Watchers” is a film adaptation of the 2022 book of the same name by A.M. Shine.
Review: “The Watchers”
Published June 13, 2024

Allegations of sexual harassment filed against former Undergraduate Student Government President

The allegations were brought to USG shortly before Murali’s resignation.
Shashank Murali (Image by USG Archives)

Editor’s Note: This article contains material regarding allegations of sexual harassment that are currently unproven. 

Two allegations of sexual harassment were brought against former University of Minnesota Undergraduate Student Government (USG) President Shashank Murali shortly before his resignation in March, according to reports filed with the University’s Equal Opportunity and Title IX Office (EOT).

These allegations were brought to USG leadership prior to Murali’s resignation. Murali attributed his resignation to mental health concerns in his resignation letter.

The Minnesota Daily maintains the anonymity of these sources due to the nature of the allegations, and interviews were conducted under the assurance of anonymity. These sources provided the Minnesota Daily with the EOT reports.

One of the women alleged Murali encouraged her to drink beyond her comfort and touched her inappropriately while at a party for an extracurricular event in February, according to the report. 

The woman said she did not give consent at any time. She said she tried several times to get away from Murali, both on her own and with the help of friends at the party. 

“He was constantly getting mad like, ‘Oh like where’s my girl going?’ or like ‘Where are these people taking my girl’ or something like that,” the woman said. “Referring to me as his girl when there was no like, sort of relationship established.”

Another woman filed a complaint against Murali in March, which concerned multiple alleged incidents during the 2022-23 academic year, according to a report filed with EOT.

After the women made a complaint to USG leadership, two members of USG took the complaint to its human resources department on March 19, according to USG leadership. 

In his resignation letter, Murali said he had been discussing his resignation with USG’s presidential team for over a month and USG directors were notified weeks ago of the decision. 

“I believe that now is the best time for me to resign and focus on myself and my well-being,” Murali said in his resignation letter. 

University policy requires University employees to report allegations of sexual misconduct they learn about to their campus Title IX office, according to the EOT website. EOT Director Tina Marisam said student organizations are not required to do the same. 

In an email statement, USG said it follows all University policies concerning sexual misconduct and has its own internal policies “to ensure (the) organization remains a safe space for all.”

“We took this situation very seriously,” USG said in its statement. “We took as much action as we could as quickly as we could in accordance with both University and our own policies, while doing our best to provide (the women) with resources and agency as they share their experiences.” 

The women said they have maintained contact with the two USG members who initially reported the allegations to USG Human Resources but have remained anonymous to other USG members, including the human resources department.

According to the Student Groups and Sexual Misconduct webpage, student organizations may take action to address shared concerns within the framework of their own group.

EOT allows members of the University community to report instances of alleged sexual misconduct via phone, email or formal report, which is available on its website. Once EOT receives a report, those who report have the option to pursue investigation into an incident either with EOT or law enforcement, according to Marisam. 

In some situations, Title IX, the federal law prohibiting sexual discrimination in education, prohibits student groups from taking punitive action against a member for alleged sexual misconduct without an investigative process, which finds the accused engaged in the misconduct, Marisam said. 

Marisam added groups closely directed by the University would be subject to this rule. 

Both women said they are not planning on pursuing an investigation, given Murali graduated in May.

Murali declined to comment without first reading a copy of this article. The Minnesota Daily policy prohibits the sharing of article drafts prior to publication. The Daily shared relevant information to this story with Murali, and he denied an interview.

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  • Anonymous
    May 30, 2024 at 1:57 pm

    This is a pretty serious allegation. Wish it was investigated more regardless or not whether someone graduates.

  • SMH
    May 27, 2024 at 1:10 pm

    So the University kept this a secret all semester, so he could graduate. They really worked hard to make sure he didnt suffer any repercussions from this.

  • lmao
    May 20, 2024 at 7:36 pm

    What’s actually weird is how men won’t stop sexually harassing whether a big deal is made about it or not. Why can’t dudes just be normal and treat others with basic respect? That’s what’s weird.

  • kay
    May 18, 2024 at 10:02 pm

    Weird how no one seems to care that much about sexual harassment this year, but last year everyone was up in arma abkut it. Shashank has it easy. He was allowed to graduate, and there waa little to no uproar about the situation. lmao

  • Amanda Huggankiz
    May 15, 2024 at 5:54 pm

    You, like, cannot, like, be serious

  • Anonymous
    May 15, 2024 at 4:24 pm

    I agree two allegations are worrying, though I am concerned by the implication of publishing this piece given the lack of an investigation. This piece will publicly link Shashank to undetailed allegations that will likely never be proven or disproven. This is concerning and, at least in my eyes, unfair.