Opinion | Op-eds

Faculty support students in sexual assault policy change

  • PROTEST | The past few months have seen a massive increase in student activism surrounding sexual assault on campus, including the filing of a federal complaint and activism that has generated national coverage.

This piece was originally submitted to Spectator on May 9 and has not been taken from other postings of this letter.

To the Columbia Community:

 We were shocked to learn of the Title IX, Title II, and Clery Act complaints filed against Columbia on April 24. We applaud the bravery and fortitude of the students who filed these complaints.

As troubling as it is to learn about the level of sexual misconduct on campus, we are even more dismayed by Columbia’s response to these problems. It is clear that University policies and enforcement are insufficient and even harmful to creating an environment where students feel safe and supported. We, as a community, must do more to make this school a place where all students are safe from violence. We must do better.

 As faculty members of the University, we demand an environment that is safe for every member of our community, regardless of their gender. Having an environment where everyone feels comfortable and secure is essential for learning.

 We want students who have been victims of sexual assault to know they have our support. We commit ourselves to work with our community to change the campus climate so that rape, sexual assault, and violence are not a part of any community member’s experience. And we will ensure that University policies do not just comply with federal requirements, but go further, so that all students experience the kind of support and respect that our community can provide.

To achieve these ends, we demand that the University enact serious and substantial reform with strong student involvement in a transparent process.

We must change the culture here. The brave students who filed a complaint against our University have taken the first step. We stand with them.

Lila Abu-Lughod
Joseph L. Buttenwieser Professor of Social Science, Department of Anthropology
Director, Middle East Institute

Karen Barkey
Professor of Sociology
Director, Institute for Religion, Culture, and Public Life

Peter Bearman
Jonathan R. Cole Professor of the Social Sciences, Department of Sociology

Debbie Becher
Assistant Professor of Sociology
Barnard College

Helen Benedict
Professor of Journalism

Chris Blattman
Assistant Professor of International and Public Affairs and Political Science

Marcellus Blount
Associate Professor of English and Comparative Literature

Brian Boyd
Lecturer in the Discipline of Anthropology
Director of Museum Studies and Program Coordinator, Center for Archaeology

Tina Campt
Professor of Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies
Director, Africana Studies Program
Barnard College

Partha Chatterjee
Professor of Anthropology and Middle Eastern, South Asian, and African Studies

Laura Ciolkowski
Adjunct Associate Professor of English and Comparative Literature
Associate Director, Institute for Research on Women, Gender, and Sexuality
Associate Director, Center for the Study of Social Difference

Pam Cobrin
Senior Lecturer in English
Director, Writing and Speaking Programs
Barnard College

Jean Cohen
Nell and Herbert M. Singer Professor of Contemporary Civilization in the Core Curriculum, Department of Political Science

Yinon Cohen
Yosef Hayim Yerushalmi Professor of Israel and Jewish Studies
Chair, Department of Sociology

Julie Crawford
Associate Professor of English and Comparative Literature

June Cross
Professor of Journalism

Patricia Dailey
Associate Professor of English and Comparative Literature

Nicholas Dames
Theodore Kahan Professor of Humanities
Chair, Department of English and Comparative Literature

Gil Eyal
Professor of Sociology

Catherine Fennell
Assistant Professor of Anthropology

Priscilla Ferguson
Professor of Sociology

Page Fortna
Chair, Department of Political Science

Samuel G. Freedman
Professor of Journalism

Tim Frye
Marshall D. Shulman Professor of Post-Soviet Foreign Policy
Director, Harriman Institute

Todd Gitlin
Professor of Journalism and Sociology

Steven Gregory
Professor of Anthropology and African-American Studies

Kim F. Hall
Lucyle Hook Chair, Professor of Africana Studies and English

LynNell Hancock
H. Gordon Garbedian Professor of Journalism
Director, Spencer Fellowship Program

Marguerite Holloway
Associate Professor of Professional Practice in the Faculty of Journalism
Director, Science and Environmental Journalism

Katharina Ivanyi
Assistant Professor of Religion

Janet Jakobsen
Ann Whitney Olin Professor of Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies
Director, Barnard Center for Research on Women
Barnard College

Richard John
Professor of Journalism

Kimuli Kasara
Assistant Professor of Political Science

Alice Kessler-Harris
R. Gordon Hoxie Professor of American History in Honor of Dwight D. Eisenhower, Department of History

Rashid Khalidi
Edward Said Professor of Arab Studies, Departments of History and Middle Eastern, South Asian, and African Studies

Shamus Khan
Associate Professor of Sociology

Kathleen Knight
Senior Lecturer, Department of Political Science

Bruce Kogut
Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. Professor of Leadership and Ethics, Columbia Business School

Jeffrey W. Kysar
Professor of Mechanical Engineering

Hilary A. Hallett
Assistant Professor of History

Marianne Hirsch
William Peterfield Trent Professor of English and Comparative Literature

Jean Howard
George Delacorte Professor in the Humanities, Department of English and Comparative Literature

Macartan N. Humphreys
Professor of Political Science

David Johnston
Professor of Political Science

Matthew L. Jones
James R. Barker Associate Professor of Contemporary Civilization, Department of History
Chair, Contemporary Civilization and Committee on the Core

Jennifer C. Lena
Associate Professor of Arts Administration and Sociology
Teachers College

Natasha Lightfoot
Assistant Professor of History

Claudio Lomnitz
Campbell Family Professor of Anthropology

Christia Mercer
Gustave M. Berne Professor of Philosophy

Brinkley Messick
Professor of Anthropology and Middle Eastern, South Asian, and African Studies

Nara Milanich
Associate Professor of History
Barnard College

Massimo Morelli 
Professor of Political Science and Economics

Dipali Mukhopadhyay
Assistant Professor of International and Public Affairs

Maria Victoria Murillo
Professor of Political Science and International and Public Affairs

Andrew J. Nathan
Class of 1919 Professor of Political Science

Celia Naylor
Associate Professor of History and Africana Studies
Barnard College

Alondra Nelson
Professor of Sociology
Director, Institute for Research on Women, Gender, and Sexuality

Mae Ngai
Professor of History and Lung Family Professor of Asian American Studies

Sharyn O'Halloran
George Blumenthal Professor of Political Economy and Professor of International and Public Affairs
Director, Advanced Policy and Economic Analysis Program 

Gary Y. Okihiro
Professor of International and Public Affairs

Aaron M. Pallas
Arthur I. Gates Professor of Sociology and Education
Teachers College

Susan Pedersen
James P. Shenton Professor of the Core Curriculum, Department of History

Gregory Pflugfelder
Associate Professor of Japanese History, Departments of History and East Asian Languages and Cultures

Peter G. Platt
Chair, Department of English
Barnard College

Elizabeth Povinelli
Chair, Department of Anthropology

Wayne Proudfoot
Professor of Religion

Tonya L. Putnam
Assistant Professor of Political Science

Anupama Rao
Associate Professor of History
Barnard College

Samuel Roberts
Associate Professor of History and Sociomedical Sciences

Nan Rothschild
Ann Whitney Olin Professor of Anthropology

Saskia Sassen
Robert S. Lynd Professor of Sociology
Co-Chair, Committee on Global Thought

James Schamus
Professor of Professional Practice, Film

Michael Schudson
Professor of Journalism

Karen Seeley
Lecturer in Discipline, Department of Anthropology

Michael Shapiro
Professor of Journalism

Robert Shapiro
Professor of Political Science

Audra Simpson
Assistant Professor of Anthropology

Pamela H. Smith
Seth Low Professor of History

Alisa Solomon
Professor of Journalism
Director, Arts and Culture Concentration in the M.A. Program, Columbia Journalism School

Neferti X. M. Tadiar
Chair, Department of Women's, Gender and Sexuality Studies
Barnard College

Mark Taylor
Chair, Department of Religion

Kendall Thomas
Nash Professor of Law
Director, Center for the Study of Law and Culture

Robert Thurman 
Jey Tsong Khapa Professor of Indo-Tibetan Studies, Department of Religion

Van C. Tran
Assistant Professor of Sociology

Andie Tucher

Associate Professor of Journalism
Director, Communications Ph.D. Program
, Columbia Journalism School

Nadia Urbinati
Kyriakos Tsakopoulos Professor of Political Theory and Hellenic Studies, Department of Political Science

Johannes Urpelainen
Assistant Professor of Political Science

Carole S. Vance
Associate Professor of Sociomedical Sciences

Dorian Warren
Associate Professor of Political Science and International and Public Affairs

Jonathan Weiner
Maxwell M. Geffen Professor of Medical and Scientific Journalism

Paige West 
Tow Professor of Anthropology
Chair, Barnard College Department of Anthropology
Barnard College

Josh Whitford
Associate Professor of Sociology

Madeleine Zelin
Dean Lung Professor of Chinese Studies, Departments of History and East Asian Languages and Cultures

To respond to this op-ed, or to submit an op-ed, contact opinion@columbiapsectator.com

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Lol posted on

Why did you wait to publish if it was received on the 9th...?

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opinion's picture
opinion posted on

Hi there! We go through multiple rounds of editing with every piece. It's a process that often takes several days.

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yeah, but... posted on

Why let a piece like this sit around for days? Also it's written by faculty members (their writing >>> yours), it doesn't seem like it should take that long. Just sayin.

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Columbia Spectator's picture
Columbia Spectator posted on

Hi! Thanks for asking—normally you'd be correct. We would not let something like this sit around for more time than necessary. However, in this case there was an embargo on the piece, and we decided to publish tonight instead of tomorrow as planned after seeing that Bwog had published the piece.

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Lol posted on

Why did you wait to publish if it was received on the 9th...?

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Anonymous posted on

It's funny that this is an "op-ed" but Bwog scooped you.

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opinion's picture
opinion posted on

It still is an op-ed. Unfortunately, it was leaked to Bwog during an exclusive editing process.

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Anonymous posted on

how did professors become involved in this? Were all professors notified and these were the ones who agreed to take part? (I'm just curious to know what the absence of many names implies)

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Student posted on

For those wondering: I'm pretty sure this wasn't circulated to the whole entire faculty of the university. I think it was written by certain professors and sent around through their networks, and shared on a more individual basis. I'm sure that, if other faculty members want to sign on, the professors who wrote it would welcome the additional support, but I wouldn't necessarily read the absence of particular names as the absence of support.

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josh whitford posted on

I'm a signer. And this student is correct. The letter did in fact travel by email across faculty social networks which are -- as you might expect -- shaped by their disciplinary locations.

An effort was made to circulate it widely, but at the same time those who began the process could hardly publish it and only then ask who wanted to sign. The point was to release it with evidence that this is a view held by many and when it had reached some substantial number it was thus released.

So: you can take the presence of a signature to indicate support for the views expressed in the letter (we knew what we were signing). But you should NOT assume the absence of any particular signature -- or for that matter the absence of signatures from any particular discipline or department -- to indicate opposition or indifference. You just can't know.

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Kim F. Hall posted on

I am also a signer and wanted to co-sign Josh Whitford's comment that not having a signature on the letter should not be taken as lack of support. I got an email asking for a signature on Friday with a note saying it would be submitted on Monday. Many faculty were away from their email, so may have missed the opportunity to make their support visible.

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Anonymous posted on

Wonderful. Now get rid of President Bollinger. Fire the deans. Fire the general counsels. Wipe the slate. Otherwise, Columbia students will continue to get raped.

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what? posted on

you have issues...

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Anonymous posted on

You are deaf and dumb.

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Anonymous posted on

LOL. Bwog posted an article that was sent dirtectly to Spec two days before Spec did. Love that up to date online addition.

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Tal Malkin posted on

I am on the faculty of the Computer Science department, in SEAS. I did not see this letter before, and from what I hear from several of my colleagues, they did not either.

I would be happy to sign this letter if given the opportunity, I strongly support its content.

Tal Malkin

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Anonymous posted on

"This piece was originally submitted to Spectator on May 9 and has not been taken from other postings of this letter."

Dear Spec Board: nobody cares that you got it first. Just report the letter cleanly and quickly, that is what people care about. Stop being so self-important, and playing these little journalistic games, because you just open yourself up to criticism (i.e. "Why did you sit on this op-ed for three days?" "How did Bwog scoop you?").

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Anonymous posted on

"This piece was originally submitted to Spectator on May 9 and has not been taken from other postings of this letter."

Dear Spec Board: nobody cares that you got it first. Just report the letter cleanly and quickly, that is what people care about. Stop being so self-important, and playing these little journalistic games, because you just open yourself up to criticism (i.e. "Why did you sit on this op-ed for three days?" "How did Bwog scoop you?").

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Anonymous posted on

I'm guessing that the clarification is because there was an embargo on the letter that meant that the letter was not supposed to be published in any way before May 12th. "Journalistic games" are pretty fucking important when you want sources to trust you and to be considered a reliable source for consistently true information.

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Anonymous posted on

My advisor signed this letter - I appreciate that so much.

These signatures are not without risk as Columbia is not a safe space, so thank these faculty members for their support.

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Alumni & Dad posted on

As an alum, I'm really impressed by how CU students have really raised the profile of this issue and generated a real impact on campus, City Hall, and Capitol Hill. Congrats that the faculty are joining in too. It's smart advocacy and organizing that takes advantage of the CU platform to make real change.

As a dad, however, I don't understand why attention is strictly focused on the Columbia's disciplinary system. Suspension and expulsion aren't sufficient punishment for the rapists. Shouldn't they be aggressively pursued through the criminal justice system? Jail seems a better consequence than sending them home to Westchester. Even in an imperfect judicial system, arrests without convictions require disclosure to future employers and they will be able to see patterns of criminal behavior. Shouldn't we expect a response from the NYPD and the Manhattan DA too?

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Anonymous posted on

Because charging someone of rape is a serious accusation, and Columbia disciplinary process is not adequate and protects neither the accuser nor the accused. Young men who are accused of "rape" are immediately kicked out (unless there is a strong evidence that the accuser is lying), not allowed to be on campus, take classes. How's that for the lack of due process? The accusers are immediately called survivors. They don't want to file claims with the police (because if the real court - most of these accusations wouldn't fly!) - just just want someone to kick these guys out of college based on their WORD. Don't you think that young women should actually feel protected by such policy?

The problem here is two fold: The ever expanding definition of sexual assault and lack of personal responsibility. A few years back I read a piece in Mother Jones that surveyed college women on their drinking habits. Somewhere over 70% said they drank so they would lose their inhibitions about hooking up with guys. They drink too much, have sex with a guy, and the next day while wallowing in shame and regret that they really didn't want to have sex with that guy, they discuss it with their friends and convince themselves that they were 'raped'. There are way too many cases where women described in detail how they were raped just to admit months later that all that was fabricated. Any kind of sexual advances can, now, be reported as "rape". Forceful kissing, touching.... yes call it whatever you want but don't call it rape. There is a deluge of false claims at colleges, and young men are fighting back. See more at: http://www.mindingthecampus.com/originals/2014/04/the_white_house_joins_the_war_.html#sthash.CmyxYB6d.dpuf

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Anonymous posted on

If a woman consents, encourages, delights in a sex act then changes her mind, is this rape? Is the sex before she changed her mind consensual? Is it right for a woman to say all sex is rape when she changed her mind at the end or the next day?

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Anonymous posted on

If a woman consents, encourages, delights in a sex act then changes her mind, is this rape? Is the sex before she changed her mind consensual? Is it right for a woman to say all sex is rape when she changed her mind at the end or the next day?

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Anonymous posted on

If a woman consents, encourages, delights in a sex act then changes her mind, is this rape? Is the sex before she changed her mind consensual? Is it right for a woman to say all sex is rape when she changed her mind at the end or the next day?

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Anonymous posted on

If a woman consents, encourages, delights in a sex act then changes her mind, is this rape? Is the sex before she changed her mind consensual? Is it right for a woman to say all sex is rape when she changed her mind at the end or the next day?

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