The Quest | The Free Press of Reed College

An Open Letter to the Reed Community

Dear Reedies,

I am writing this letter to you because I want to explain why I am resigning from the Judicial Board and, more importantly, because I want our community to start thinking critically about the relation between sexual assault, the honor process, and the Judicial Board. During my three semesters as a J-Board member, my highest priority has been (as I believe is the case for all J-Board members) serving our community, and I feel a huge degree of responsibility towards all the people I’ve worked with through the board. For this reason, out of respect for my peers, fellow Judicial Board members, the honor principle – and especially anyone who has ever participated as a complainant or respondent in an honor case – nothing I write in this article should be read as a reflection on anything that could fall under the umbrella of confidentiality. However, I will take the liberty of reflecting on my own experience of internal discussions within the board -with various board members, our J-Board chairs and, in the context of Judicial Board training, with advising staff and faculty (including Colin, Mike, Pete, our advisors Nora and Keith and Reed’s lawyer Ed). In this regard, I have made efforts to consult the J-Board chairs about the content of this letter. I invite Luke, Hannah and any other J-Board member (past and present) to share their perspective if they so wish.

As I understand it, Colin Diver advocates free speech as an integral right and responsibility of the honor principle. Thus, this letter is the result of my belief that, under the honor principle, I should express the following concerns to my community in the interests of opening productive, and respectful, dialogue. In these remarks, I do not intend to discount the honor process or discourage any Reedie from participating in it; in many ways, I think the our judicial process is an amazing and unique resource, but I also think it needs some improvement (for example, reforming a hearing process that currently leaves survivors little option other than spending hours in the same room as their alleged assailant, as both parties recount the alleged assault). Due to the extremely sensitive and serious nature of sexual assault, I sincerely hope all emerging discussions will be kind, considerate and uphold confidentiality. I think we can do better than we’ve done in the past.

I will not be serving on the Judicial Board this semester (cutting short my second year-long appointment) because, last November, the current Judicial Board chairs asked that I not serve as a hearing board member or procedural aide for cases involving possible incidences of sexual assault or harassment, citing comments from a former J-Board chair about my supposed ‘strong emotional attachment’ and alleged ‘high-profile’ interest on campus in regard to the subject of sexual assault (after asking for further clarification about these statements, I have not received an explanation that a) gives a comprehensive account of the reasoning behind these claims or b) states why, if true, these qualities would compromise my judicial objectivity). I appreciate the time and thought Hannah and Luke devoted to discussing this issue with me, after which they rescinded their request but still expressed reservations about my ability to serve on sexual assault cases. However, as a result of these conversations, I have chosen to leave the Judicial Board because I would neither feel comfortable complying with concerns I do not feel are credible, or serving without the full confidence and trust of my chairs. Moreover, I feel that I would be condoning an institutional approach to sexual assault and justice – one which largely discounts or ignores reliable studies and expert opinion, and has not made any significant progress in adapting judicial procedure to the specificities of sexual assault – which I have come to believe is unethical and unjust.

This article is not about me, but about our Judicial Board and the reality of sexual assault on our campus. I am not an expert on sexual assault, but here are some things I think I do know: I don’t think the Judicial Board has sufficient understanding or training regarding sexual assault or PTSD to make truly informed decisions; I don’t think the Judicial Board has enough information to judge consent in varying and diverse situations; sexual assault cases potentially place a huge emotional burden on J-Board members, which I can only imagine is more difficult for other case participants; and finally, the Judicial Board Code currently sets out a hearing procedure that, in the instance of a sexual assault case, could be not only unduly stressful but even (re)traumatizing or triggering for the people involved.

I would say that the Judicial Board and the faculty and staff we work with are very aware and rightly concerned about the particular challenges that can arise if a potential sexual assault case is brought to the J-Board. However, I am discouraged because – despite numerous internal conversations, suggestions for procedural improvements and alternate resources, and concerns voiced both on campus and in the local press- I don’t really think I’ve seen concerted institutional efforts to implement the concrete changes that could give participants in a sexual assault case more potential options and adequate support in such an undoubtedly difficult situation. Logistically speaking, the considerable stress and time commitment involved in being both a J-Board member and Reed student severely limits the attention the board can itself devote to substantial and complex projects of this nature. I’ve felt that some of the various staff and faculty members who council the board are only receptive to certain kinds of questions and critiques, even if they reflect perspectives prevalent in the Student Body. Personally, I’ve noticed that as a girl and self-identified feminist my questions and comments have been given less consideration and weight than those of my (self-identified) male fellow board members. This impression is exacerbated by the fact that, after being appointed to the board, I was told I would have to choose between serving on the Judicial Board and signating the Feminist Student Union, as it was alleged that involvement in a feminist group could lead to bias-related concerns about my ‘neutrality’ in regards to the issue of sexual assault.

Essentially, even though our community is making productive efforts to address sexual assault and educate ourselves about consent, I don’t trust that – with no open lines of communication between the J-Board and the Sexual Assault Task force – Reed will engage current concerns surrounding the Judicial Board’s relation to sexual assault as quickly or thoroughly as is necessary. A 2005 National Institute of Justice Report entitled “Sexual Assault on Campus” reports that over an average five-year college career, 1 in 5 college women experience rape. A 2010 investigative series entitled “Seeking Justice for Campus Rapes”, conducted by NPR in conjunction with The Centre for Public Integrity, similarly assesses the scope and scale of the problem (like any good Reedie, I’ve followed my letter with a bibliography). I believe that the issue of sexual assault on college campuses is an issue of human rights – the equal right of survivors to receive an education free from the fear or threat of violence. As so many rapes go unreported I don’t know if these statistics hold true in our community, but I do know that Reed is not as much of a bubble as we sometimes like to think.

And yet, because we are granted the privileges of the Honor Principle and self-governance, we (you) have the opportunity to both make our voices heard and act in the name of change and justice if we see fit – for the benefit of survivors, our community and those (justly or unjustly) accused of sexual assault. My manifesto would be as follows:

i) Establish/ hold a forum in which the community can express thoughts and concerns relating to sexual assault.

ii) Conduct an anonymous, campus-wide survey in an attempt to find comprehensive information and statistics about sexual assault at Reed.

iii) The Judicial Board and their advisors should implement the procedural adjustments for cases concerning potential sexual assault or harassment that have been suggested and deemed appropriate, and make the necessary resources available. This could take the form of a document, detailing the possible resources and options available to participants in a sexual assault case (for example, hearings that take place through video conferencing* or written correspondence, on/ off campus resources for care and safety available to all parties and witnesses involved in a case etc.). This document should be added as an appendix to the document “Rights and Responsibilities of Participants in a Judicial Board Case”.

iv) An effort must be made not only to take educational and preventative measures against sexual assault on our campus, but fully review on campus procedures for seeking justice and resolution in the event of a potential sexual assault. We could begin by forming a working group–compromised of current/ former J-Board and SATF members, as well as Student Services staff –to assess what work needs to be done, decide who should do it, and take concrete steps to ensure that dialogue and action can start to happen.

iv) For you, and the whole Reed community, to start thinking and communicating about how to respond to the reality of sexual assault on our campus

Now it’s your turn, Reed. I still want to believe in you.

Sincerely, and with love,
Isabel.

* Hannah and Luke wanted me to mention that, as far as they have been told, Reed does not have sufficient technological resources for the J-Board to conduct a hearing over video conference (Apparently, the necessary equipment would cost around $2000, if anyone would like to source or donate this amount).


Bibliography

National Institute of Justice Report. “Sexual Assault on Campus: What Colleges and
Universities are Doing About it”.
http://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/nij/205521.pdf

National Public Radio. “Seeking Justice for Campus Rapes”
http://www.npr.org/series/124073905/seeking-justice-for-campus-rapes

The Centre for Public Integrity. “Sexual Assault on Campus. A Frustrating Search for Justice”. http://www.publicintegrity.org/investigations/campus_assault/

The Judicial Board Code.
http://www.reed.edu/honor_principle/assets/downloads/j-board_code.pdf

Sexual Assault Policy.
http://web.reed.edu/academic/gbook/comm_pol/sexual_assault.html

Oregonian Article about Reed. “Assaulted and Abandoned: Sexual assault survivors on campus are often victimized again by colleges”. http://www.oregonlive.com/opinion/index.ssf/2010/06/assaulted_and_abandoned_on_cam.html

Mike Brody’s Response in the Oregonian. “Editorial Response: Sexual Assault Carries Weight, is addressed at Reed College”
http://www.oregonlive.com/opinion/index.ssf/2010/06/assaulted_and_abandoned_on_cam.html

Comments
23 Responses to “An Open Letter to the Reed Community”
  1. Lucy Butcher says:

    Thank you so, so much for writing this, Isabel. I want to say so much, but until I get my thoughts together, I’ll leave it at this:

    J-Board could indeed conduct a hearing over video conference. Just last week I was in the M-Lab while professorial candidates were being interviewed on a large screen via skype.

    • Lisa says:

      Although that might be the case now, I believe that video conference has not always worked in the past. It is particularly difficult when a video conference is held for a very long period of time, especially when the audio and visual feed cut out intermittently. Although the internet connection at Reed might work without any problems, it is possible that the connection might not work well on the other side.

      • Lucy Butcher says:

        I’m not sure if they were using Skype in the M-Lab or something else.. Whatever it was, it seemed to be working well! The interview went on for almost an hour without any problems. Anyway, my point was just that, at least from what I’ve witnessed, video conferencing seems to be a possibility technologically on campus.

        • Will says:

          Skype isn’t secure enough for the confidentiality requirements the US legal system places on J-board. A (legally) feasible system would cost a lot more than the $2,000 quoted in this piece.

          • Matt says:

            But don’t they already use Skype for hearing cases in which either the complainant or defendant is out of town…like for cases heard over one of the breaks or if one party has graduated/is on leave?

          • Matt says:

            Also, Will, can you elucidate which federal or state laws govern the procedures of J-board? Thanks.

  2. Lauren says:

    I encourage the sexual assault task force, the judicial board, and the honor council to put together a survey and start administering it every semester. (We receive surveys regarding the bookstore, Dojo, and theses, why don’t we have one that compiles information about the student body?) Reed needs to prioritize the emotional, mental, and physical health of the community. I recognize that we have the health and counseling center and student services, but Reed’s administration should be fully aware that many Reedies do not use those resources.

    As for the Feminist student union, how could involvement in the Reed community lead to someone being less capable of serving it? I have not gone to many events involved with the FSU, but I have seen their fliers for consent discussions and their invitation to everyone to use their safe space. It seems to me that they advocate awareness and better communication regarding relationships. That seems like a resource that would bolster the chances of j-board functioning properly. If we want to be a community that is predominantly run by students, then students need to be able to communicate well.

    I am very shocked that the proceedings require both people to recount events over hours in the same room. I recognize that $2,000 is a lot of money for an individual, but for Reed as an institution it is very little. I believe Reed takes pride in how we do things differently, but this letter presents some concrete examples on how we could do things better. I hope that Reed’s administration will prioritize the resources that both ease and expand these judicial processes. Thank you Isabel for sharing your experiences and for serving on our judicial board.

  3. Nic says:

    To quote Adam Shipman, an expert on sexual violence interviewed for one of the news pieces that came out this summer about Reed’s woefully inadequate methods for dealing with sexual assault cases:

    “An all-student fact-finding committee and no investigation of rape on campus by faculty or campus security is a serious concern. Sexual assault isn’t a he-said/she-said issue. It’s a crime. They are treating it like something that can be resolved by a committee.”

    Nuff said. Not only do the administrators like to pretend that a committee can handle these things, but a committee of 18-20-something year-olds! Let’s be frank about this: I wouldn’t want someone that age and serving in a volunteer capacity to decide even a purely monetary dispute for me, let alone a FELONY that can leave a victim scarred for years or life.

    Reed should instead be having these kids (which is what they are) focus on dorm thefts and academic dishonesty and instead train students to be advocates that can direct sexual assault victims to police and medical assistance. J-board cases offer no opportunity for cross examination (which is usually where you trip up someone who is lying) and require that both sides see all the written testimony before a hearing, affording an attacker ample time to come up with some excuses or lies about their behavior (in a real trial discovery would cover evidence not testimony). Also, in a real court, the plaintiff would be the DA’s main witness, but not have to stay in the room with the attacker during the whole proceeding. In j-board cases the plaintiff has to act as his/her own representation throughout, which one can easily imagine might be highly stressful, or even traumatic, as Issy points out. In fact, the current system seems like one of the dumbest ways I can think of to go about dealing with these types of cases–if the point is to find out the truth not just give the appearance of offering assistance to victims.

    I mean, I guess it’s good to have an internal system to deal with this both because colleges are probably the most common place in the world for sexual assaults in general and especially date rapes to happen, but that system should be run by adults who are both very well-trained in the unique considerations of these sorts of cases and not distracted from the pressures of school.

  4. The judicial board as it is currently organized judges cases with regards to contemporary normative behavior on campus. That is a good thing, because we wouldn’t want to criminalize people for participating in behaviors that are–by the student body itself–considered normative and appropriate. If you bring in a board of 40 to 50 year olds who are out of touch with college life, you risk losing the board’s current ability to accurately judge a case in context. Besides which, like Colin Diver said, ultimately the board acts as an advisory body: he makes the final call.

    Also, while I’m all for getting it right with sexual assault, I’d also hope that other potentially serious violations are taken seriously, and I’m not sure why we should put so much considerable time and effort into specifically sexual assault. Shouldn’t these suggested forums and surveys cover all of the matters relevant to j-board (theft, violent assault, drug sales, etc…)? I think singling out one issue in particular almost necessarily biases the responses you’ll get regarding it, and it certainly leaves the other issues neglected.

    In point of fact, I’m still unsure what exactly the article is suggesting is wrong with the way that j-board currently handles sexual assault. If they don’t have “sufficient understanding or training regarding sexual assault or PTSD to make truly informed decisions” do they have it for judging any of the various other violations that they investigate? And what exactly does it mean that they don’t have “enough information” to judge consent in varying and diverse situations? Certainly they get the same facts of a case that anyone else judging it would. Is there some other special information, other than the definition of consent, that is required?

    I don’t know about the rest of you, but I like the idea that as a Reed student you have the option of appealing to Reed’s community standards and student-run judicial process, rather than being required to take legal action as a response to any injury. I wouldn’t want my options to be: a. go to the police or b. get information from Reed students/faculty about how to go to the police. I would be happy for a choice and for the chance to be judged by a true jury of my peers. Isn’t that the whole point of j board and the honor code?

    That being said, video conferencing for hearing procedures might be a good procedural augmentation and a step in the right direction. In that case there is a bill that someone has to foot, but it would at least be a more valuable use of student body money than some of the possibilities that came up in the most recent funding poll.

    • Isabel Manley says:

      Dear Colin,

      Thanks for reading my letter, and contributing to the discussion. Sorry for my delay in replying; I wanted to think over your response, so I could give you a really thoughtful reply.

      I really agree with your comment about the value of Reed students having ‘the option of appealing to Reed’s community standards and student-run judicial process, rather than being required to take legal action as a response to any injury.’

      However, I think ( and I hope I expressed this in my article) that the problem is that current Judicial Board procedure for sexual assault doesn’t seem to take community norms into account. I think there is often a breadth in community norms at Reed – however , I do
      think most Reedies believe that sexual assault is not consistent with the honor principle, and I know there is a significant degree of concern in the student body about the way J-Board handles SA cases. (I can only think that the substantial number of ‘thank you’ messages I received in response to my letter confirm this). I am asking that J-Board – but more pressingly the board’s advisors and the committees involved in revisions to J-board’s code and procedure – respond to these concerns, in order to better reflect opinion, norms and voices in our community.

      In response to another of your points – “I’m not sure why we should put so much considerable time and effort into specifically sexual assault” – I would say that I there a number of reasons why we, as a community, should be thinking specifically about the relation between sexual assault and J-Board (just for starters…) :
      i) Most importantly, because of the general level of concern, and sense of dissatisfaction, in our community surrounding J-Board’s interaction with sexual assault.
      ii) Because, as the recent Centre for Public Integrity and NPR reports attest, the issue of justice for sexual assaults on campus is a pressing, national concern.
      iii) Pragmatically, concerns surrounding sexual assault seems more pressing because – if you look at the semesterly quest summaries of all Judicial Board cases – you can see that J-Board primarily deals with sexual assault, drug and alcohol, and academic misconduct cases. Cases concerning other violent/ serious incidents that don’t fall under sexual assault or harassment are much,much less frequent. Also, sexual assault cases are different because they nearly exclusively involve a unresolved issue between two students. The two latter types of cases I mentioned most likely involve a complaint brought against a student by a faculty or staff member.
      iv) The fact that Reed has a Sexual Assault Policy – which the Judicial Board uses alongside the Honor Principle to adjudicate cases – suggests that SA is an issue complex enough that it be treated under its own umbrella. We don’t have policies for other types of violent/ serious incidents; these types of disputes would generally be adjudicated in relation to the Honor Principle. The Drug and Alcohol Implementation Plan gives more explicit information to supplement our Drug and Alcohol Policy, but we don’t have anything similar for the SA Policy.

      Regarding your third paragraph, I think your right: I was intentionally vague in the article and didn’t elaborate on more specific examples, partly due to the need to maintain confidentiality and partly due to constraints of length/space. However, I did also include a line in my original article (later edited due to length) that encouraged Reedies to consider, hypothetically, the complexities and concerns that might arise in a case of potential sexual assault brought to the Judicial Board. I didn’t elaborate on the complexities of consent, PTSD ect. because there’s a lot of great literature that explains it better than I could (or am qualified to). For some more background, I would look at the really thorough NPR series, or dig into this reading list posted on the Bitch magazine blog.

      http://bitchmagazine.org/post/from-the-library-books-to-help-us-understand-rape-culture

      I hope I was able to shed at least a little bit of light on some of your queries. Thanks again for your thoughtful response, and joining in the dialogue!

  5. The Overmind says:

    Umm, it’s probably not as simple as you think, Nic. I think there are fundamental presuppositions in your points that you don’t elucidate, points which I think are problematic.

    If you don’t assume that your peers, fellow students, can be adults, you’re in the wrong community. Ripping on 18-20something-year-olds because of their age doesn’t do you any points unless you admit that you are a child and can’t speak for yourself (assuming you’re a current Reed student), and at that point the entire critique you mount falls upon itself, since if you 18-20something-year-olds can’t speak as your peers, you potentially falling into this group, then how can you even mount a critique?

    If you wanted a community that was managed by ‘adults’ (the very fact that you don’t treat Reed students as adults offends me), there are plenty of places that could do this for you. I know this sounds a lot like the “You don’t like America?! Move to Russia!!” argument, but it’s not, since it was your choice to come to Reed and accept Reed as the institution it was/is. You can always choose to not support it by transferring to another institution. Don’t tell me this was the only choice for you, because it wasn’t, and isn’t.

    Having said that, I think your frustrations are spot-on. I would encourage you to get involved in changing and shaping Reed policy concerning these issues. God knows student government always needs good people, though I have no bases on which to judge your character aside from this libelous blog post.

    Colin,
    I appreciate your sentiment and thought on this. However, sexual assault is clearly one of the most difficult issues the Judicial Board deals with. It takes a lot of time and effort, and the emotional strain it puts on people is frightening. That’s why I don’t fault Izzy for resigning. This shit tears you apart. I was only the President of Vice, and I can’t count the number of hours of sleep I lost because I was tossing and turning, upset over issue X, Y or Z. I can not begin to imagine how difficult J-Board is for the individuals involved. I also don’t buy that focusing effort on sexual assault detracts from the considerations of other issues, as the Judicial Board is a body that always takes each case seriously.

    Izzy,
    I think you’re doing a fundamental disservice to the Reed community. Given your strong beliefs concerning this issue, you thought it appropriate to resign? I understand that it can be difficult to bear the emotional burden of J-Board appointment, but you thought the way to change Reed’s practices was to politicize your resignation? There’s a lot more good you can do working as a part of this system than you can do while giving the peace sign (or perhaps middle finger?) walking out of it.

    Maybe I’m just another chauvanist piece of shit in a fucked up patriarchal world (completely possible, though I would never be able to speak accurately regarding this), but if there’s even a modicum of truth to anything I say, I think that you have a lot more to prove than you think you do.

    • Reed Student says:

      I will never understand the argument that we have to accept Reed as it is or transfer. There are plenty of reasons to be here outside of Reed’s social norms — the academics, for example. A student here for the academics, however, is still subject to the rest of Reed’s policies. If a person doesn’t agree with policies that directly affect his or her life, it’s totally within their rights to advocate change. In addition to this, the argument that we should conform or leave is pretty…. conservative. I would much rather think of Reed as a place that values progression and critical thinking than one that’s stubborn and stagnate. And yet, every time someone criticizes the institution in a public forum, I see calls to transfer. It’s messed up, to say the least. And it silences important voices/opinions.

    • Alexander Eveleth says:

      I agree with Overmind’s point regarding working within the system here. If you’ve truly decided that there is little point in your remaining on the board, that would be extremely concerning to me as a Reed student–is the problem so systemic that your internal pressure would be incapable of producing meaningful change? Simply resigning certainly won’t.

    • Isabel Manley says:

      Dear Nick (The Overmind).

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I want to leave the dialogue open to others, but I did want to respond quickly to your comments personal to my decision to leave the board.

      I sorry if you read the gesture of my letter as a reactionary political move or as putting my finger up to the J-Board. I made every effort to show that was not the case in my article, particularly by stating ‘This article is not about me” and in the preface “I do not intend to discount the honor process or discourage any Reedie from participating in it; in many ways, I think the our judicial process is an amazing and unique resource”. I also sought the opinion of the current J-Board chairs Luke and Hannah (and amended my letter to some of their edits). However, I’m sorry if this is how my words came across to you.

      You also stated that I could do better working inside the system than out of it, and Alexander Eveleth made a similar comment by asking ‘Is the problem so systemic that your internal pressure would be incapable of producing meaningful change?’

      In the article, I tried to make it clear that Yes, my internal pressure (alongside the voices of a few other J-Board members) was incapable of producing meaningful change over the 18 months I spent with J-Board (including a summer meeting with a few other J-Board members to continue discussing and working on the issue at hand.) Because I felt compelled by the honor principle to address community concerns surrounding J-Board and sexual assault I thought it was well overdue that I should express these thoughts in a different form. Also, in my letter I explained that my concerns and questions were received differently – by administrators and faculty – than those voiced by male J-Board members. This was just one reason why I felt my voice (and the voices of many other concerned Reedies) weren’t being heard. Given that (as I mention in article) various board chairs, and our advisors, had expressed concerns about my supposed attachment to the issue of sexual assault, I think it is unlikely that my comments would have been taken to heart had I stayed on the board. I also think many people involved with the board would have deemed it inappropriate to both write this letter and continue as a board member.

      Finally, I really didn’t resign from J-Board because of the emotional strain or burden. Its hard for me to hear you suggest that I’ve done a disservice to the Reed community because I have always tried as hard as I could to be good member of this community (even when that involved taking on additional stress or heartache). Honestly, I think in many respects I’ve actively taken on additional emotional burdens or the sake of my community, but I have never resented that, and have been happy to prioritize ‘community’ (in the sense of my responsibilities to other Reedies ) over my academic or personal life. I think this is something most Reedies experience, in some way, and its part of the way Reed changes us and helps us grow.

      I wrote this letter because I sincerely believe in the honor principle, and am trying to live by it. Nothing that I wrote is original, in the sense that I have heard all these concerns voiced by other before me. Students who have been involved in the judicial process aren’t always able to reflect publicly, or speak out, about their experiences with J-Board, because of the parameters of confidentiality. All I attempted to do was express some serious concerns about the judicial process because many other people who hold the same concerns have not been heard, or are restricted from speaking out.

      Anyway, I hope this answers your concern. Thank you for bringing your perspective and thoughtful comments to this dialogue.

      • The Overmind says:

        Izzy,
        I appreciate your timely response. I apologize if I perhaps sounded pompous or truculent; it is always emotionally difficult for me to watch someone step down from one of the most vital positions in the student body. I suppose the word that more accurately describes your actions is not disservice, but tragedy. It is grossly unfortunate that after your 18 months of service, what caused you to step down was the inertia of the system in which you were taking part, and not the toll it exacted on you (I never fault individuals for leaving the most demanding work at the college for personal reasons).

        To explicate, your service is beyond commendation. I have nothing but respect for the time that you have served.

        Regarding the technical equipment required to make digitized hearings happen, if, pending the factuality of the above discussions, it still requires $2000 to make them happen, I think the money could be drawn together to make that happen. Between money from administrative bodies, the student body, and alumns (I would put money towards that), it can happen. Advice: Hugh Porter should be consulted if you want to court alumni donations.

  6. The Overmind says:

    I never said people should conform or leave. However, there are definitely constructive forms of criticism, such as Izzy’s manifesto for what should happen regarding sexual assault cases at Reed. This is especially important when people criticize the institution in a public forum. Don’t treat it all like some 4chan flame war. Izzy does a good job in postulating a solution, or moving Reed towards one. But saying that students are children, the entire judicial process is broke, and it’s completely bunk, as Nic does, is not constructive. By all means, make the institution work better. We need good people involved at Reed! But if all you’re going to do is tell me it’s broke, I’ve got very little to say to you. This world is made up of people who make it happen, right down to the last postal worker and bus driver. If you know what you want changed, do it. Please. This is some straight up Obama-type shit, go out and make it happen! For the love of God! This world is fucking insane and we need good people to make it better!

    Another reason this comes up is that people often forget that there are other possibilities. I’ve had friends transfer to other schools and be perfectly happy with their choice. Reed isn’t for everyone, and we should never think that it is. Reminding people that other institutions might do things better, especially in situations like this, is necessary so that we can look out for each other as people. I don’t tell people to leave out of hatred or xenophobia. I suggest people leave if it will work better for them.

    Also, the Reed education is a commodity. We’re a private institution. People receive certain services from the college. Generally, if you don’t like the way a company works or the product it sells, you find another producer. It’s a crass way of viewing the world, but it’s definitely the market Reed is set up in.

    I don’t know, maybe I’m silencing your opinion right now just by writing this. But I think you are beholden, as an honorable member of the Reed community (a community which agrees to abide by an honor principle), to voice your opinion. It is dishonorable to do otherwise. And at that point, we’re at the kernel of the Reed experience: the honor principle. And if we can’t agree at that fundamental level, then that’s where we should start.

  7. anon says:

    Does anyone know if any of these suggestions are going to be implemented? It’s been over a month and I don’t think I’ve heard anything about any concrete plans…

  8. Rory Bowman, '90 says:

    As the first alumnus to ever be made a CSO with RCCS, I pursued a second degree in Criminal Justice and was Crime Prevention Officer for the Reed campus, helping in the implementation of federal crime reporting standards on the Reed Campus, literally the poster child for those efforts, with my picture representing the department on our first federally-required pamphlets. Some alumni may recall my dorm presentations where I would talk about sexual assault, theft and inscribe “communism, atheism, free love” along the outside edge of a nickel.

    From the very beginning, it was my sense that the Reed administration was more concerned about protecting itself than students. Vice President Ed McFarlane was the first to clearly and publicly exempt staff from Judicial Board procedures, and pioneered a liability-based CYA approach to everything. Based on this transparently self-serving hypocrisy, I was always certain to emphasize that Reed students had the option to call 911 and bring in the “regular police” for criminal matters. RCCS existed to provide an extra level of service, not to replace the conventional criminal justice system. Please do not forget this.

    The primary goal of the Reed administration is to protect itself, which it sees as the primary embodiment and purpose of Reed College’s existence. Students, staff, faculty and alumni are tolerated only to the extent that they are necessary. Students with drug problems are shunted off. Students with mental illness are shunted off. Students who bring about bad publicity are shunted off. The office of student activities largely exists to keep the students quiet and in a playpen, where they will not disturb the administration. Be clear on this: Reed wants your money and their reputation, and you are useful only to the extent that you help them with this.

    Many years ago, in the time of Jack Dudman, Reed may have been about students and teaching primarily, but relatively few of the most relevant players believe that now. Since the Bragdon reorganization, Reed has primarily seen itself as a nonprofit corporation whose primary goal was its own maintenance through increasing revenue, resources and control. Although certain individuals within the system may value human beings, the system as a whole does not and cannot.

    Show the Reed Institute and its administration the same loyalty and concern you would show any corporation. Reed is not a cathedral but more like “a causeway upon which [one] may walk safely.” Reed does not love you. It is not your friend. It can sometimes destroy you, and your friends. The clearer you are about this, the safer you shall be.

    Youthful hope has met illusion, yielding delusion and now disillusion. This is normal and necessary. Don’t be fooled.

  9. Surf's up says:

    Good letter, good points, which will now be promptly hijacked by people with ridiculous “solutions” that further reduce student responsibility and accountability, with a corresponding defining-down of community expectations.

    Here’s the real solution of those people:

    Do absolutely nothing anywhere at any time. Don’t even leave the friggin’ house, ever. Occupy your plastic bubble with feeding tube. Don’t have sex, don’t procreate, don’t feel anything, don’t take any risk that may one day lead to interpersonal conflict or an out of control situation, lest you do something stupid and inexcusable or just do something stupid that gets turned into something inexcusable later. We wouldn’t want to have to sort out the merits of which is which with HUMAN JUDGMENT, Gaia forbid, so enjoy your new “dorm mother” (the sheep who suggested that above should be put down with a bolt gun if it wasn’t an ironic suggestion) from Deutschland Security and don’t even think about taking a drink or using any substance. Stick with the feeding tube, you are free to do as we tell you, REPEAT you are free to do as we tell you, and with our new illusion of security and justice every thing with be copasetic, go back to bed America, go back to bed (by yourself, and masturbate alone in shame).

    The problem with this country is that legitimate, well thought out attempts to deal with issues like this letter are given over into the hands of monsters (usually, “leaders”) and become vehicles for making everything incrementally shittier, without ever addressing the underlying problem. The Oregonian article today (and the WWeek articles about Reed in the past) are the quintessential examples of that trend and its tsunami wave of bs cresting here. May we catch a better wave, soon, before the vampire squid jumps the shark yet again.

    • Kevin G says:

      what?

      • rorybowman says:

        They are suggesting the administration will use “crises” such as these to expand in classic Naomi Klein “shock doctrine disaster capitalism.” Every event becomes an opportunity to expand departmental reach under the guise of “protecting” or “improving” or “being more responsive.”

  10. Judith Patudith says:

    Isabel,

    Do you feel that the judicial board does not effectively or correctly rule on cases dealing with sexual assault, or that the judicial process itself discourages participation because of its structure?

    Do you advocate maintaining an internal student based system for dealing with such cases, or are you arguing that j-board should not hear them at all?

    Judith

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