HOLYOKE, Mass. (WWLP) – The University of Massachusetts Amherst has launched an investigation into allegations of inappropriate behavior against 1st Congressional District candidate and Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse.
The University is looking into whether Morse violated policy during his time as a lecturer at UMass Amherst; allegations first brought to light by a report in the Massachusetts Daily Collegian– the student-operated newspaper at UMass Amherst.
The College Democrats of Massachusetts alleges Morse had inappropriate sexual relations with college students. Morse taught at the University eight times as an adjunct instructor between the fall of 2014 and the fall of 2019. He is not a current UMass employee.
A statement from the College Democrats of Massachusetts claims Morse had attended their events, and privately contacted students he met at their events via social media “in a manner widely understood by our generation to indicate intimacy.”
“For the Mayor to pursue students he meets at College Democrats events is unacceptable. For an elected official who is also a lecturer at a university (a position that involves holding both academic and political power over students) to sleep with students at that university is unacceptable. In addition to being a Mayor and a lecturer, Mayor Morse is a widely-admired and well-connected gatekeeper to progressive politics in Massachusetts and nationally, which makes the task of refusing his advances fraught for college students who wish to enter progressive politics themselves,” the statement reads.
The group says they had laid out their accusations against Morse in a letter to him last week, and that Morse had responded to them in writing, in which he did not deny their allegations.
According to the statement from UMass Amherst, the University has reached out to students to provide them resources and support. The statement says the University was previously unaware of the concerns brought forward by members of the College Democrats.
The College Democrats of Massachusetts acknowledge that in the past academic year they had received a $1,000 check from the campaign of Morse’s primary rival, incumbent Congressman Richard Neal, but added they received contributions from several other Massachusetts officeholders and candidates; money that they use to pay for events and scholarships, among other things. They deny that this contribution had any bearing on the release of the allegations.
“To suggest that our decision to send the letter to Mayor Morse was a quid pro quo with Rep. Neal, his campaign, or anyone else is untrue, disingenuous, and harmful,” the statement reads. They also deny that the accusations have anything to do with Morse’s sexual orientation (Morse is openly gay,) saying “Many of the people involved in writing our letter to the Morse campaign were members of the LGBTQ+ community themselves.”
22News has contacted Mayor Morse and his campaign for comment. We are expected to get a statement from Morse by the end of the day Sunday.
22News has also reached out to the campaign of Congressman Richard Neal. Neal’s campaign has declined to comment on the matter.
22News is continuing to cover this story, and will bring you the latest information as it becomes available here on WWLP.com and on the air.