Petition to Fire David Voros
University of South Carolina Administration
Two new lawsuits have been filed against SVAD professor David Voros alleging a history of sexual misconduct, harassment, and abuse. These grievances include trying to affect the grades of students who accused him of misconduct, acts of intimidation against other staff members, and attempts at sexual coercion, to the point that one staff member had to request a leave of absence.
The two lawsuits, filed by SVAD employees Jaime Misenheimer and Pamela Bowers, allege that Voros created an unsafe work environment. Bowers, who divorced Voros in 2017 for having sexual relationships with students, faced gendered slurs, intimidation, and unwanted sexual advances before requesting a leave of absence in 2019. Bowers continually complained of the abuse to then-SVAD chair Peter Chametzky, who threatened her job, and then to current chair Laura Kissel, who blamed Voros’ conduct on Bowers herself. She also asked USCPD for help, who only told her to get a restraining order despite the history of abuse.
Misenheimer also alleged instances of sexual coercion and intimidation. Voros allegedly asked her to lower the grade of a student he described as “crazy” after a study abroad trip. Similarly to Bowers, Misenheimer received little help from SVAD administration, who were known to tell female reporters to “think of the guy.” Current SVAD Chair Laura Kissel even suggested that she “place crystals on her desk to feel safe” from Voros, which was possibly in reference to Misenheimer being a member of the Choctaw Nation.
These two aforementioned lawsuits demonstrate a disturbing history of behavior. Another glaring example of Voros' alleged abuse is seen in the 2018 lawsuit by then-student Allison Dunavant. During an unsanctioned study abroad trip, Dunavant alleges instances of sexual coercion, food deprivation, and unhealthy living conditions.
The trip was misconstrued by Voros as a school sanctioned study abroad, and according to the 2018 lawsuit, the students were subjected to abhorrent living conditions involving having “to scrub feral cat pee off the floor and furniture”. Voros’ house was also the only source of food for the students, forcing them to interact with him. After Dunavant walked in on Voros and another student having sex, Voros would “say things that indicated if she was ‘more like’ the other female student who was having sex with him, things would be much easier for her on the trip.” When she refused his unwanted sexual advances, he deprived her of food and threatened to call the police and have her kicked out of the program.
After getting back to campus, she filed a formal complaint against Voros, but it was dismissed. Her appeal was rejected by then-USC president Harris Pastides, who was friends with Voros. Even after the complaint was rejected, Voros pressured other faculty to give her bad grades and to not sign off on her thesis, despite the fact that it was popular and successful.
The system for reporting retraumatised survivors and protected the predator. It has to change. The University of South Carolina has failed in its duty to protect students from harm and needs to take immediate action against the offenders and to fix what is ultimately a system that enables.
As members of the Gamecock community, we are all expected to follow the guidelines of the Carolinian Creed. Clearly, David Voros failed to uphold the creed in every regard. He failed to practice personal and academic integrity by trying to retaliate against his accusers by manipulating grades and using other forms of intimidation. He failed to respect the dignity of all persons by treating his victims as less than human beings deserving of dignity and respect. He failed to respect the rights of others by subjecting them to harassment. He failed to discourage bigotry by himself engaging in gross misogyny against his own coworkers and students. Through all of these actions and others, he ultimately failed to demonstrate concern for others.
Our demands are as follows:
Immediately remove David Voros from his position at the School of Visual Arts and Design for his history of harassment against students and faculty
Immediately remove Peter Chametzky as a faculty member of the School of Visual Arts and Design for ignoring the abuse and harassment conducted by David Voros
Immediately remove Laura Kissel as Director of the School of Visual Arts and Design for enabling Voros’ abuse of students and faculty
A complete overhaul of EOP reporting
Protect graduate students from harmful and abusive professors and administrators
Transparency in the investigative process of misconduct by offending parties
Immediately remove Carl R. Wells, Deputy Director of the Office of Equal Opportunity Programs, for dismissing claims of sexual harassment
Mandatory recusal for all persons with a conflict of interest in a given investigation, i.e. Harris Pastides’ personal relationship with David Voros
End the EOP reporting practice of notifying alleged assailants that a complaint was made to empower victims to report
Transparency in ongoing lawsuits and allegations, including flagging professors in Self Service Carolina to empower students to avoid classes taught by abusers
This petition is not just aimed at David Voros, but all those who have enabled him and other abusers on our campus. That includes former SVAD Chair Peter Chametzky, current SVAD Chair Laura Kissel, and any other administrators who knew about the abuse and turned a blind eye.
University of South Carolina Administration
From: [Your Name]
Fire David Voros and all those complicit in the abuse occurring in SVAD.