While some Penn State diversity advocates reacted favorably to news of a settlement between women's basketball coach Rene Portland and former player Jen Harris, others hesitated to applaud the decision to keep the settlement's terms confidential.
"It's a real shame that we don't get to find out what was discovered in the university's investigation because presumably that could have been found out in court," former Allies President Ed Rowe said. "I can't criticize her for settling out, but I think it's indicative of a pattern."
Terrell Jones, Penn State's vice provost for education equity, said he was happy to see a settlement.
"That's a good thing for us to move on and point toward the future," Jones said.
Christina Swomley, president of SpeakOut, said she has mixed feelings on the settlement.
"If it was settled, I feel that Jen Harris has gotten something that she wanted from the case," she said. "Personally, I guess it's good that it's over, but it's not good because I still don't know what is going on."
Harris filed a case against Portland in December 2005 on the basis of race, gender and sexual orientation discrimination. Portland had asked Harris to leave the team the previous year, along with two other players. A university investigation completed last year found Portland to be in violation of the university's anti-discrimination policy. She was fined $10,000 and ordered to undergo diversity training.
Christian Matheis, assistant director of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgendered, and Allied (LGBTA) Student Resource Center, said he had not seriously thought about the implications of the settlement. However, he said the heated discussion surrounding the case has subsided in recent months.
"I knew that would happen once it went into a legal issue," he said. "But it's obviously still been a topic of conversation. It matters to [students], I can tell you that."
Jones said he couldn't predict if there would be any backlash on campus connected to the settlement.
"I can't speak for other groups so it is hard for me to say," he said.
Swomley said, in general, the case has been an embarrassment to Penn State.
"It doesn't say very much for a school that's ranked in the top 20 in terms of LGBTA issues," she said. "We have an amazing resource center, but what does that say about the people at Penn State?"
R E L A T E D''S T O R Y
- Harris, PSU reach deal
- Full Text: Joint Public Statement
- Past coverage of the Jen Harris lawsuit