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Carla Lunguți - My teacher flirted with me

Author: Carla Lunguti

We start with an exercise. Imagine you are a student and you receive the following written messages from a teacher.


1. Nice people are rare. That's why, when they meet, they should become  a family.

2. You are beautiful. Thank you, thank you for existing. Kisses! Smile and have a day wonderful day!


3. I'm waiting for the magic moment, which is luck and the clock, to turn green at the traffic light,

to light the love, the flame of love, to take the car to come to you with 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7

flowers. Bullseye. Love, love, let's be together and go to France.

Or imagine receiving the following audio message.

AUDIO: I am a loving person. Like hold each other, to love each other, to „bubulubu”, I cannot be serious, serious I am on the outside, not in my home. Not serious in my home. What can we do with how I am today? What can we do?

For the women in this room such messages are not necessarily new. We get them on Messenger, on Instagram or WhatsApp. And each of us has its own strategy to avoid them: we reply dryly hoping they'll stop, we  ignore, or we block this persons.

But what do you do when the messages come from your teacher?

Horea-Mihai Bădău has been teaching at the Faculty of Journalism and Communication Sciences in Bucharest for almost 15 years. In all this time, he had sent messages like this to his students. I know this because I have interviewed several dozen in the past year and have seen and heard numerous messages. I have the testimonies of 25 of them and published them in RISE Project and Scena9.


I found out that this teacher has been doing this for years. Called students at night (sometimes before they were even officially  students), asked them about their horoscope signs and if they were compatible, whether or not they had boyfriends, invited them to Vama Veche in Bulgaria or at his home. Some of them were asked to marry him, or h e told them he loved them, or he had relationships with them at the same time as he was their teacher.


Some of the students told their colleagues what was happening to them, and this information reached him quickly. So accused them of lying,  he threatened them with the ethics committee and said that they started it.


This is also the reason why students have not filed any complaints over the years. The teacher had all the power and they had none. He denied even when confronted by us for our journalistic piece, and on Facebook he claimed he is the victim. Even if dozens of women that did not met each other brought proof of his behavior.

Unfortunately, Bădău is not an isolated case. Half of female students in Romania are aware of sexual harassment behavior at universities, and a quarter of them have experienced it. Psychologists, lawyers and activists I have spoken with say that Bădău and others like him overstep the boundaries of the teacher-student relationship and, at the very least, abuse their power. Sometimes the behavior can even be considered sexual harassment. These behaviors are not sufficiently explained and sanctioned by university regulations and national legislation.

The first step to prevent them is to acknowledge their existence. Then one must understand that grabbing a student's shoulder, making jokes about their clothes, intrusive stares, private messages about horoscope signs, sexual hints,  invitations to meetings with no academic purpose, all of this is abuse.


For a systemic change, above all, we need clearer codes of ethics. In recent years, the FILIA Center has analyzed the codes of ethics of 85 universities in the country. None of them define gender discrimination, only 38 of them mention sexual harassment, and 12 give a definition that is often abstract and difficult to understand. Almost nowhere are the definitions accompanied by examples of behavior.

When we started documenting these pieces, no one expected justice to be done in the Bădău case. He had also been on unpaid leave since 2021 because he had gone to France as a lecturer. The professors and the faculty management knew about his behavior, at least from rumors, some even from students. "Everyone knew," several students and alumni told us. From University of Bucharest, however, the solution was far from clear. A few days after we published our investigation, the rector of the university held a meeting with faculty teachers where a lot of teachers said that the students should have lodged a complaint. They said it was the victims' fault and since they had not filed a complaint, there was nothing they could do.

The university in France, where Bădău teached, had another approach. After their students read the articles they wrote to the management and they suspended him because "the investigation published in Romania has caused concern among students in France". For them, the students were right, even without much evidence. In Romania, we waited two months for a response from the ethics committee - the one that was supposed to shed light and justice on the matter. Finally, It admitted that the professor had violated the code of ethics and recommended that a disciplinary committee be set up.

OK, so what now? I had been wondering that for days. Theoretically, the facts the students were talking about were more than two years old, and as national law dictates, they could therefore no longer be considered, and Bădău had a suspended contract, so he couldn't be held accountable. According to the regulations, that was all. This has happened so many times, including in the case of the two UNATC professors accused of dozens of students of abuse and harassment. Both are still teaching.

But public pressure helps when you want to change something, and so Bădău resigned this month after talking to the rector behind closed doors. This means that he will not be teaching at the Faculty of Journalism or any other faculty at the University of Bucharest. 

But since the regulations are unclear so he might work as a professor at any other university in the country. We will see. 

I feel that justice was only half done. But is still an important win in a country where most of the times the abusers go on with teaching or other responsibilities. The real victory is that this pieces gave courage to other students, from other faculties, from other cities, to tak. They made it publicly, long Facebook statuses and clearly, with names - their names and the abuser's name.

Today, for me, justice is no longer only about fighting. It's about creating space for as many of us as possible to tell our stories without blame.

I will end with something that Miruna, one of the graduates, told us: "Every word I read hurts because I knew that a professor could mock young women who wanted to learn a profession and make it in the industry. On the other hand, I feel satisfaction knowing that his immoral acts are public and that our testimonies can help other generations to be more careful in their conversations with teachers"

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