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.
The Ring-Tum Phi