Scandal-hit academy head says he will not step down

The rector of the Jāzeps Vītols Music Academy (JVLMC) Guntars Prānis announced on Tuesday, March 12, that he does not plan to resign, Latvian Television reports.

As reported by LSM, on the afternoon of Monday 11 March, JVLMA Council voiced its distrust of the rector in a confidence vote and called on him to resign. The Council was under the impression that the rector had known about the alleged sexual harassment committed by at least one professor toward students.

The Council's decision is supported by the Minister for Culture, Agnese Logina (Progressives), who said: "The question I am most interested in right now is how has this cover-up happened? And who are the people who have known about these people who are crossing boundaries with students and who are using their power to influence students? If it is clear that the cover-up has taken place at the highest level, there must clearly be responsibility for it."

Prānis said he made the decision to stay in office after meeting with Culture Minister Agnese Logina. He says he thinks that he can best help the victims of the alleged harassment by staying.

Meanwhile, eight faculty and staff at the Academy said in an open letter on the morning of March 12 that they supported Rector Prānis: “We believe the decision of JVLMA Council to vote no confidence in the rector is hasty and rushed, which does not reflect his responsible actions in response to this situation.”

The authors of the letter said the academy had issued an order for unacceptable behavior that clearly defined what actions would not be tolerated and that the rector had asked students to turn to submissions at the rectory office or to trusted academy staff. The authors of the letter also recalled that the rector had sent a submission to the State Police, urging the initiation of an investigation to ensure a fair and impartial assessment of the situation.

“We are confident that this action demonstrates our promoter's commitment to building a safe and supportive environment within the academy,” the letter's authors stressed.

The letter has been signed by Baiba Kokina, Ēriks Ešenvalds, Edmunds Mickus, Jānis Baltiņš, Indriķis Veitners, Aira Rūrāne, Artūrs Cingujevs, Dace Dūze-Šišlo.

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