Members of the Feminist, Gender and Sexuality Studies program at Wesleyan University wish to offer solidarity and support to students and our broader community in the wake of the recent revelations regarding a Wesleyan official who was in charge of sexual misconduct hearings for our campus. We also urge our institution to take action to rebuild students’ trust in Wesleyan’s ability to adjudicate cases of sexual assault.
In the past week, we have seen expressions of outrage on campus and elsewhere. In their performative protest on campus, Amy Mattox ’17 and Avigayl Sharp ’17 underscored the importance of “rendering pain visible.” The pain and grief experienced by members of our community must be fully and deeply acknowledged. Current and former students whose cases were adjudicated may be questioning the legitimacy of Wesleyan’s Title IX process. Some may even feel re-traumatized. We wish to acknowledge and bear witness to their pain and to offer our support.
Students on all college campuses are vulnerable to sexual assault, especially now, in the so-called red zone, the time period in the fall semester that sees the highest incidence of cases on college campuses. A loss of confidence in the judicial processes regarding Title IX at Wesleyan affects those who need support services now. Students may be less willing to report sexual misconduct and assault if they do not believe the process to be fair and just. If the past week is any indication, they may also be less willing to utilize campus support services, even those that have long been trusted resources for students. These urgent problems require immediate attention from Wesleyan’s faculty and administration. We urge Wesleyan University to increase its institutional transparency and to commit new resources to promoting a campus climate of safety and social justice.
Mary Ann Clawson, Christina Crosby, Lori Gruen, Natasha Korda, Victoria Pitts-Taylor, Mary Jane Rubenstein, & Jennifer Tucker