Letters to the Editor Regarding Sexual Assault
Issue   |   Wed, 10/24/2012 - 01:44

A group of faculty has written the following letter to the students of Amherst College. For the full list of the 14 authors and 128 signatories, see below.

We are deeply saddened and upset by the recent disclosures of sexual misconduct and violence at the College. It is not only that acts of sexual violence have occurred that troubles us. It is the further injuries that students have suffered after these acts that also concern us.

We are writing to express our deep support for all who have been affected by this in any way. We are also troubled that the College has failed you.

We are committed to working towards effective solutions to the many problems that you have faced and continue to face. We call for an end to the culture of silence. None of us can function in an environment of mistrust and fear. Trust and respect are essential for teaching and learning. We are teachers, and as teachers we realize we have much to learn from our students. We urge any and all of you to come talk with us — as a college, we can only find our way through this together.

We are committed, in the coming months and years, to building a climate of safety, respect and ultimately, trust. We know we have much work to do to make Amherst the college that it should be, a place of mutual respect and trust.

We realize that nothing can change the past. But as we face the future, know that we stand with you and we will come through this together.

Jessica Reyes
Tom Dumm
Christian Rogowski
Paola Zamperini
Deborah Gewertz
Jagu Jaganathan
Luca Grillo
David Schneider
Jason Robinson
Boris Wolfson
David Hall
Jeffers Engelhardt
Beth Yarbrough
Catherine Epstein

Lyle A. McGeoch
Krupa Shandilya
Ethan Graf
Joseph Moore
Victoria Maillo
Joseph Kushick
Ilan Stavans
David Hanneke
Ronald Bashford
Judith Frank
Wako Tawa
Heidi Gilpin
Jessica McCutcheon
Chick Chickering
Scott Kaplan
Amelie Hastie
Jonathan Friedman
Chris Kingston
Betsey Garand
Nusrat Chowdhury
Sara Brenneis
Wendy Woodson
Karen Sanchez-Eppler
Andrew Johnston
Adam Honig
Javier Corrales
Kristin Bumiller
Christopher Grobe
Ethan Clotfelter
Hannah Holleman
Chris van den Berg
Lucía M. Suárez
Daniel Koltonski
Carol Keller
Lisa Raskin
Sergey Glebov
Andrew Poe
Nicola Courtright
Julia McQuade
Ronald C. Rosbottom
Jay Caplan
Susan Niditch
Robert Doran
Catherine Ciepiela
Sean Redding
Natasha Staller
Alicia Christoff
Jerome Himmelstein
Dwaipayan Sen
J. Celso Castro Alves
Margaret Hunt
Klara Moricz
Jill Miller
Alix Purdy
Chris Dole
Mohamed Hassan
Kiara M. Vigil
Colleen Woods
Trent Maxey
Barry O'Connell
Sujani Reddy
Michael Ching
Ted Melillo
Jonathan Vogel
Daniel Hall
Caroline Goutte
Dominic Poccia
Maria Heim
Anna Martini
Rick Lopez
Ellen Boucher
Austin Sarat
Vanessa Fong
Amy Wagaman
Nasser Hussain
David Cox
Sheila Jaswal
Hilary Moss
Karin Boxer
Rob Benedetto
Jenny Kallick
Leah Hewitt
Rosalina de la Carrera
Patrick Williamson
Hugh Hawkins
Pavel Machala
Eric Sawyer
Robert Sweeney
Jan Dizard
Ron Lembo
Samuel C. Morse
Laure Katsaros
Ingrid Nelson
Martha Saxton
Dale Peterson
Carol Clark
Ute Brandes
M. Elena Aldea Agudo
Justin Kimball
Shu-Min Liao
Anston Bosman
Martha Umphrey
Ashley Carter
Sandra Burkett
Dan Velleman
William Loinaz
Tim Van Compernolle
Francis G. Couvares
Daniel Barbezat
Saaid Mendoza
Lisa Brooks
Elizabeth Aries
Tekla Harms
Josef Trapani
John Rager
Walter Nicholson
Michele Barale
Ethan J. Temeles
Stanley Rabinowitz
Amrita Basu
John-Paul Baird
Jun Ishii
Amy Demorest
Patricia O'Hara
Rhonda Cobham-Sander

Artie Moffa '00 (not verified) says:
Wed, 10/24/2012 - 13:34

Thank you, Amherst faculty. I'm encouraged by the frankness of this letter and reassured by the quantity and quality of those who have signed it. This letter is a good starting point.

It cannot be, and clearly isn't intended to be, a solution. The events and conversations of the last three weeks have brought alumni out of the woodwork whom I haven't heard from in years; this issue resonates and bears extended scrutiny. I've voiced my own ideas on remedies and policy changes elsewhere. Here, I'll simply state the obvious: the alumni are watching with deep and sustained concern over the alleged responses and apparent policies of Amherst College regarding victims and perpetrators of sexual assault. Our love of our school is deep and resilient, but not unconditional. We are watching and worried. Please do the right things.


-Artie Moffa '00
Admission Green Dean 2000-2001

Grateful Moho (not verified) says:
Wed, 10/24/2012 - 19:11

This is really great. As professors, you are all an integral part of the college community, and it's wonderful to know that students have your support. Thank you.

Anonymous (not verified) says:
Wed, 10/24/2012 - 22:15

No Hadley Arkes?

Jes Rich '00E (not verified) says:
Thu, 10/25/2012 - 00:11

Almost every woman I knew at Amherst experienced sexual assault on campus and/or lived with serious emotional health issues. Almost every one of those women experienced a failure of the school's administrative, health, and counseling resources to meet her needs. Most, but not all, were able to struggle through in whatever way they could. Some were encouraged to take time away from the college, and a few, like me, did just that. Not all of us returned, and that was absolutely Amherst's loss, because those women were wonderful. We all had something to offer the community, but we were difficult, problematic, angry, scary, and so we didn't fit. And boy, did we know it.
Amherst was a hard place to be for many of us, for a variety of reasons, and it was demoralizing to feel that any of us had to fight to be there. Some who struggled, who were lucky, found hope, encouragement, and care in our relationships with our professors. Amherst rightly acknowledges that its faculty is one of the major selling points of the school; more than a collection of brilliant minds, though, they are a group deeply committed to the development of students. This letter shows that they are as willing to open their hearts and hold out their hands as they are to share their knowledge. I hope that students reach out in return, because it can make all the difference to have that connection.
I almost didn't make it through my time at Amherst. The efforts of one professor in particular helped me save my own life, but there were many moments with many others, moments that probably went unnoticed by them, but that meant the world to me, in which I felt that I had a lifeline. So to the faculty who have signed above, I say thank you for this letter; now all students know that they can turn to you, and that you care about what happens to them. It matters. I would also like to personally thank Professors O'Connell, Frank, Barale, Saxton, Clark, and Bumiller for giving me moments of grace and showing me care when I needed it. You made it easier and better to be an Amherst woman.
To the current students: the people who have submitted this letter in support of your well-being are some of the finest minds and hearts you'll know. They are reaching out to all of you, not just to those who are struggling. I hope that you will extend yourselves in kind, and that together you can heal and grow as a community. Your president will help this happen, I have no doubt. We alumni are here, too, and we support all of you in this endeavor.

--Jes Rich '00E

Padfoot '13 (not verified) says:
Thu, 10/25/2012 - 16:01

Thank you, my professors. It means a lot to me that you signed this letter and that you care. Thank you.

Anon (not verified) says:
Mon, 11/05/2012 - 21:32

Yeah, sure. Good luck... Because you couldn't have done this earlier. Congratulations.