Apologizing for “unacceptable behavior” in how he interacted with college students, Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse says he will remain in the race for Congress. In a lengthy statement Sunday night, Morse also says he will cooperate with UMass Amherst, which is investigating the 31-year-old, who has taught at the college and acknowledged having sexual relationships with college students.
The UMass student paper reported Friday that the College Democrats had cut off contact with Morse, whom they accused of matching with students on dating apps, messaging them and having sexual contact with students.
UMass Amherst called the allegations “serious and deeply concerning,” and it is investigating whether the alleged actions during his time as a lecturer violated university policy or Title IX.
Morse said he has never had a non-consensual relationship or used his political position or job as a UMass lecturer “for romantic or sexual gain, or to take advantage of students.”
He said he had relationships with college students “at local universities” whom he met using dating apps. Morse adds he is “confident” the UMass investigation will clear his name, but said making students uncomfortable is “unacceptable behavior for anyone with institutional power.”
In Sunday’s statement, Morse said as a gay man, he is held to a different standard than other political figures “who have acted in dishonorable ways in their personal lives.”
Morse also said he understands if supporters of his campaign rescind their backing.
Morse is challenging Massachusetts Congressman Richard Neal of the 1st House district in the September 1 primary. The two are set to debate August 17.
UMass Amherst says Morse last taught Urban Government and Politics in Fall 2019, and it has no plans to rehire him. He also taught there for seven other semesters dating to 2014.