SPEAKING FREELY


Posted by Jacob Geiger ('09)


I would like to address Regina Mills's post of May 20. 
 
Ms. Mills claims that Professor Brian Richardson has slandered the SFHB (it's libel if it's written, but that's not really relevant here) and has spread misinformation about it.  What she doesn't know is that he served on the SFHB for several years and is intimately familiar with its procedures and practices. 
 
I understand that SFHB hearings are closed to protect victims of sexual assault and to ensure these victims can pursue their complaint without being forced to face their attacker.  This is similar to the protections afforded by a court of law in assault cases.  This case, however, involved alleged harassment and alleged "conduct unbecoming."  There was no sexual assault.  I have no problem with giving an assault victim anonymity.  I do have a problem, however, with other cases granting that protection.  With very few exceptions, it's a fundamental principle of fair trials that the accused be able to face the accuser.  There was no need for complainant to be granted anonymity. 
 
If the Ring-tum Phi is "spreading misinformation about university policy to damaging effect," I wonder why no members of the SFHB or administration have stepped forward to complain that we are distorting the facts.  President Ruscio and Dean Watkins both know me very well.  If they thought what I wrote was inaccurate, I have no doubt that I'd hear from t hem. 
 
I agree with the principle that words can constitute harassment.  If the complainant was actually named in the Bracket (and I've heard -- but can't confirm -- that he/she was NOT) then this case is a mess.  How can you sue for harassment if you weren't the one harassed?  Even if the anonymous complainant was named in the Bracket, I would have been much more comfortable if he/she had pursued a libel case or a sexual harassment case in court.  At least there we would have an open hearing, rules of evidence, a judge, jury and all the other legal safeguards that Americans enjoy.  The SFHB acts as judge and jury, just as the EC and SJC do.  I have a huge problem with that.
 
It's difficult to defend the legal rights of Livingston and Mulhern.  What they wrote was obnoxious, hurtful and wrong.  Professor Mayock has noted that the truly scary thing is how common and acceptable most of these terms appear to be.  Rather than focusing on private hearings, we should be examining the continuing problems this community has with gender relations.  We need to find out why men think they can call their peers sluts or whores.  We need to find out why students both male and female think this isn't a big deal.  We need to make sure that this campus practices some of the tolerance and Honor it preaches.
 
These are the real issues that need to be addressed.  Attacking statements by Professor Richardson or perceived "misinformation" in the Phi simply distracts us from the larger issues.
 
Jacob Geiger
 
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Jacob Geiger
Managing Editor
The Ring-Tum Phi
 

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