[This letter was originally written as an email directly to Michael Whaley, in response to his email on February 26, 2015 entitled “This week”. It is published as I originally wrote it, though I believe that there are many elements of this letter which should be expanded upon.]
Dear Dean Mike,
I would like to let you know that I am offended and appalled by the language of your email earlier today. I do not have the time nor energy to parse the entire contents of your message, nor do I want to, but I would like to emphasize my frustration toward your use of the concept of “bystander intervention”.
You used this term to refer to the divulging of names of other students so that the university could participate in their criminalization and incarceration. While there are multiple reasons why I think these actions taken against my fellow students were morally and ethically wrong, your framing of this incident as a case of bystander intervention is inappropriate and egregious, and you should know that I will not let this slip by.
Bystander intervention is about stepping up to interrupt and stop moments of potential violence. It is about building an attentive, respectful and compassionate community that takes care of each other. And it is most often used in the context of issues of sexual assault and sexual violence. It is NOT about institutional coercion, on the basis of legal and emotional threats, to incriminate and alienate specific members of the community, regardless of their possible possession of drugs.
It is extremely disrespectful for you to use this term to refer to an instance in which our community is being forced to turn against one another and is deeply pained by the physical/neurological harm and incarceration of our friends and classmates.
It is also deeply ignorant and hypocritical to appropriate this language from the discourse of sexual violence prevention, when the university and its administration repeatedly fails members of our community who have been sexually assaulted on campus and by other students.
I hope that you take these thoughts to heart and know that students are not okay with the actions of the administration, nor the language they are using to justify it.
Stevens is a member of the Class of 2015.