Columbia photography professor Thomas Roma retired from the School of the Arts this week after being accused of sexual misconduct by five women, Spectator has learned.
The accusers are all former students of Roma’s. They told the New York Times that Roma, who has been the director of the photography program at the School of the Arts since 1996, made inappropriate advances toward them while he was their professor.
After the Times story was published on Wednesday, Roma submitted a letter of resignation to Columbia, effective immediately, according to a University spokesperson.
Roma did not immediately respond to a request for comment. In a statement to the Times, his lawyer said Roma denies that any interactions were coercive and that he cooperated with Columbia’s internal investigations of misconduct reports at the time they were made.
Mozhan Marno, a former Barnard student, told the Times that she reported the incident to Columbia in January 2000, but an investigative panel determined that Marno and Roma were both responsible for the incident, leaving Marno to believe that the school had not conducted a sufficiently thorough investigation of Roma.
Recent students of Roma’s said that they were shocked by the allegations.
“The New York Times article painted him as horrible monster, but you have to understand that in class … we saw someone who made himself very vulnerable to us every class,” said Suxiao Yang, SPS ’18.
Before he announced his retirement, Roma was set to teach a photography lecture class and a seminar, both open to undergraduates. A replacement has not yet been listed on the Columbia Directory of Classes.
Check back for updates.