Faculty Release Letter Supporting Complaints Against Columbia’s Sexual Assault Policies

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Not here, not anywhere

no red tapeAlmost 100 faculty members have signed a letter calling for Columbia University to improve its sexual assault policies. The letter supports the recent complaints filed against Columbia for its handling of sexual assault under Title IX, Title II and the Clery Act. It condemns Columbia’s response, and calls for “serious and substantial reform with strong student involvement in the process.”

Since the problems with Columbia’s sexual assault policies were raised by Columbia Dems, No Red Tape, and Anna Bahr’s Blue and White piece, the administration has hosted two town halls, and reformed the membership of the President’s Advisory Committee on Sexual Assault. The administration has also promised us a new Executive Vice President for Student Affairs, the release of anonymous aggregate data on sexual assault on campus, and changes to Columbia Health, NSOP and the Columbia/Barnard Rape Crisis Center.

The letter (bolding by Bwog):

To the Columbia Community:

We were shocked to learn of the Title IX, Title II, and Clery Act complaints filed against Columbia on April 24th. 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 Columbia University, we demand an environment that is safe for every member of our community, regardless of 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
Director, Middle East Institute
Joseph L. Buttenwieser Professor of Social Science
Professor of Anthropology and Gender Studies

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

Peter Bearman
Jonathan Cole Professor of the Social Sciences

Debbie Becher
Assistant Professor of Sociology, Barnard College

Helen Benedict
Professor of Journalism

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

Marcellus Blount
Associate Professor of English and Comparative Literature

Brian Boyd
Director of Museum Studies, Lecturer in Anthropology, & Program Director, Center for Archaeology

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

Partha Chatterjee
Professor of Anthropology and MESAAS

Laura Ciolkowski
Associate Director, Institute for Research on Women, Gender, and Sexuality
Adjunct Associate Professor of English and Comparative Literature

Jean Cohen
Nell and Herbert M Singer Professor of Contemporary Civilization in the Core Curriculum

Yinon Cohen
Professor & Chair, Department of Sociology

Pam Cobrin
Director, Writing and Speaking Programs
Senior Lecturer, English Department

Julie Crawford
Associate Professor of English and Comparative Literature

June Cross
Professor, Columbia Journalism School

Patricia Dailey
Associate Professor of English and Comparative Literature

Nicholas Dames
Chair, Department of English and Comparative Literature

Gil Eyal
Professor of Sociology

Catherine Fennell
Assistant Professor of Anthropology

Priscilla Ferguson
Professor of Sociology

Samuel G. Freedman
Professor, Columbia Journalism School

Page Fortna
Chair, Department of Political Science

Tim Frye
Director, Harriman Institute

Todd Gitlin
Professor of Journalism and Sociology
School of Journalism

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

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

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

Richard John
Professor of History and Communicati

Kimuli Kasara
Assistant Professor of Political Science

Alice Kessler-Harris
R. Gordon Hoxie Professor of History

Rashid Khalidi
Edward Said Professor of Arab Studies, Department of History

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

Macartan N. Humphreys
Professor, Political Science

David Johnston
Professor of Political Science

Matthew L. Jones
Chair, Contemporary Civilization and Committee of the Core
Associate Professor of History

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

Natasha Lightfoot
Assistant Professor, Columbia University Department of History

Claudio Lomnitz
Campbell Family Professor of Anthropology

Christia Mercer
Gustave M. Berne Professor
Professor of Philosophy and Gender Studies

Brinkley Messick
Professor of Anthropology

Nara Milanich
Associate Professor of History
Barnard College

Massimo Morelli
Professor of Political Science and Professor of Economics

Dipali Mukhopadhyay

Assistant Professor of International and Public Affairs

Maria Victoria Murillo
Professor of Political Science

Andrew J. Nathan
Class of 1919 Professor of Political Science

Celia Naylor
Associate Professor of History and Africana Studies, Barnard

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

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
Professor of History

Gregory Pflugfelder
Associate Professor of EALAC and History

Peter G. Platt
Chair, Dept. of English
Barnard College

Elizabeth Povinelli
Chair, Department of Anthropology
Professor of Anthropology and Gender Studies

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 & 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 and Sociology

Karen Seeley
Lecturer in Discipline, Anthropology

Michael Shapiro
Professor of Journalism

Robert Shapiro
Professor of Political Science

Audra Simpson
Assistant Professor of Anthropology

Pamela H. Smith
Professor of History

Alisa Solomon
Professor, School of Journalism

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

Mark Taylor
Professor and Chair, Department of Religion

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

Robert A Thurman
Professor of Religion

Van C. Tran
Assistant Professor of Sociology

Andie Tucher
Associate Professor; 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
Associate Professor
Department of Political Science

Carole S. Vance
Professor of Sociomedical Sciences and Anthropology

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

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

Paige West, Tow Professor of Anthropology, Barnard College and Columbia University
Chair, Barnard Anthropology

Josh Whitford
Associate Professor of Sociology

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


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  1. Hold on  

    Why are there only humanities professors on here...?

  2. survivor  

    Thank you for this.

  3. this  

    makes me proud

  4. fnd  

    None of my professors are on there I guess i can expect them all to rape me with their finals

    • Anonymous  

      This is awful but I laughed OH DEAR GOD yes I laughed ahahahahhaha

    • Anonymous  

      I'm going to hell.

    • endrapejokes2k14  

      please, please stop.

    • Anon  

      Seriously, you might not think that jokes like this do harm. But it's really hurtful to hear things like this. I was assaulted my freshman year, and it makes me feel like that pain I went through doesn't matter and rape isn't a big deal when I hear things like this. Please consider how these jokes impact others and normalize violence in the future.

      • so true  

        I was abused as a child and whenever I hear about our football team getting beat I feel like the pain I went through doesn't matter and domestic violence isn't a big deal. Please consider my feelings, as any decent human being would.

        • wow

          You really think you're being smart, and I can't believe you actually think your line of logic here is valid. Your argument re: how words can create certain biases is completely fallacious- words like "beat" _do_ in fact invoke images of domestic violence, but you should keep in mind that they also evoke several other meanings. You can beat on a drum or beat someone at a game, or you could beat them in the domestic abuse sense. The use of "rape" as vernacular however doesn't do quite the same thing- it's specifically taking the image of rape (which specifically refers to sexual assault) and making it seem like a light or humorous topic that isn't as severe as it actually is. Two completely separate things. It doesn't make any sense that you'd equate the way people use beat with the way people use rape. There's no semantic bias here at all..

      • fnd  

        Yeah im sorry I know what its like to get raped... freshman year calc 2 final the memories are so painful

        • Anonymous  

          Come on man. Are your jokes worth more to you than someone's pain?

          • fnd  

            Why would you assume I am a man? So hetero-normative

          • the real question  

            is someones pain worth more than everyone's jokes? which would you rather encourage, the jokes or the pain?

          • ^ response to "the real question" ^  

            that's the stupidest fucking thing i've ever heard. the jokes aren't funny and endorsing rape jokes *augments* the pain of survivors; it doesn't *privilege* it, it *prevents* it.

            i see that you're also the person who made the domestic violence joke re: our football team... i hope you're super proud of yourself and all your accomplishments, bruh

          • 4 things  

            1. its not a rape joke, its a finals joke that uses the word 'rape'. it has nothing to do with any scenario involving non-consensual sexual contact, nor does it make any societal comment or implication about rape.
            2. the joke was definitely funny as evidenced by the upvotes, and especially the commentors who (completely irrationally) think that they are bad people for laughing at it, but laughed anyway.
            3. protecting rape victims from these 'dangers' is just hiding the effects of the real problem. rape victims aren't ultimately helped by people not saying these words, they can just delay getting over their emotional issues for longer. just like when you lose a relative, you have to endure the pain and sadness until you work things out. its not helpful to box up your emotions until they go away. feeling upset or scared or angry or alone is not the end of the world, its just a part of being human.
            4. my comment about the football team wasn't meant to be a joke, it was meant to demonstrate how certain words arbitrarily gain a stigma which causes people to focus on and amplify their significance. being beaten is just as traumatic as being raped. the reason why people don't have strong emotional reactions to the word 'beat' is because they haven't been trained to. perhaps you should consider whether all of this attention on trigger warnings and offensive jokes is creating a problem that otherwise wouldn't exist.

        • survivor  

          odds are extremely high that someone very close to you (friend, ex, immediate relative, crush, mentor, etc, male or female) has been a victim of sexual assault. making these kinds of jokes about rape doesn't just piss off the "social justice warriors" or "pc police" or "feminazis" or "activists" you have so much derision for. they're also a slap in the face to people that you love and care for who have experienced this trauma.

          the same goes for those of you upvoting this disgusting troll. and before you jump in to say that none of your loved ones were assaulted or you've never met someone who has experienced sexual trauma or you don't get why it's a big deal at all: consider the fact that this kind of attitude is probably the exact reason that the people closest to you don't feel *safe* telling you about their trauma.

          i really hope you learn empathy one day, and soon.

        • CC' 16  

          For those of you who don't think that it's a big deal to make these small jokes (as I did a few minutes ago before I actually thought about it), would you be OK making jokes on an article talking about how someone in the Columbia community was murdered? What about if a student was beaten and Bwog were reporting that news?

          So even though you mean no harm to any individual, how is it OK to make light about a problem that has lead to pain and trauma for hundreds of people in our community? The fact that so many on this board don't see anything wrong with making jokes on an article like this highlights the problem.

          In general, I don't think a joke like this causes any harm as 'rape' is just vernacular for 'destroyed' or 'beaten' or 'killed', but to post it on this article is to make light of the issue and then there really is a problem.

          • fnd  

            Yeah i mean if I said "that physics final destroyed my mind" everyone who knows someone/is someone who has brain damage or has been hit in the head should be offended right?

      • get over yourself

        Go on your way and sell your story to Lifetime, so they can produce a solid two hour made for tv movie based on your ordeal. #NoOneCares

  5. CC '15

    As a survivor who has taken classes with several of the professors on this list, this means a lot. Thank you.

  6. Why?  

    This is so bittersweet, when I notice all of the professors whose names aren't there.

    • Anonymous

      I'm sure a lot more support it than those who were in these limited circles! As someone said above, it looks like it didn't get around to the engineering faculty.

    • Consider  

      Many non-tenured profs may feel like than cannot speak out against the university for fear of losing their job.

      • Anonymous  

        I see at least one non-tenured professor on the list - I understand that not all professors feel that they are able to criticize the university, but I would hope (as I know this professor does) that they put their students wellbeing over the (somewhat miniscule) odds that the university hampers their career for signing onto a letter alongside all kinds of gold-star professors.

  7. spec actually sucks

    good work beating spec to their own op-ed, lol.

  8. Anonymous

    Proud to see some of my favorite professors on here.

  9. hmmm  

    Sharyn O’Halloran

    • Anonymous  

      USenate e-board chair, right? It is kind of weird that she's kinda criticizing herself for her own inaction... Like, if she feels that strongly about it why doesn't she bring those feelings to the USenate?

      • yah  

        She is Bollinger's crony and is the reason why the USenate hasn't done anything marginally critical for years. Guess signing this list is a way of giving lip service.

  10. from an activist

    Thank you so much to the faculty members who signed this. Having your support means so much to us, and to the entire Columbia community!

  11. Anon  

    As a survivor, this means so much to me. Thank you to these professors for speaking out and helping hold Columbia accountable--in the face of the silencing, inaction, and failed policies of the University, it is powerful to have these voices on the side of students.

    Thank you!!

  12. nearly all

    members of the bc/cu soc department have signed this and it just warms my heart. choosing this major was the best thing i did with my 4 years here!

  13. BC '15  

    As a survivor, seeing my professors' names here is an incredible reminder of the support we have from the people we look up to for academic guidance. From the bottom of my heart, thank you.

  14. BC'18

    For the past few weeks, I had been very worried about my decision to attended Barnard. Article after article came out about Columbia and it's failure to address sexual assault on campus, but after reading this I feel so much more confident with my decision. I am so glad to see so many professors standing up to Columbia's administration and acknowledging that something is wrong. I now know I chose the right place and cannot wait to be taught by some of these great people.

  15. seas '17  

    Literally not a single professor in math, chem, bio, physics, or any type of engineering except one mechE

  16. Question  

    While I think this is awesome and give props to the professors who showed support, were all (or at least most) faculty asked to sign/given awareness of this letter? I'm quick to assume that the ones not on here turned it down when it's possible they may have never been asked or didn't know about this letter at all.

    • Student  

      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. Though it was shared pretty widely, it was on a more individual basis. I wouldn't necessarily read the absence of particular names as the absence of support. I'm sure that, if other faculty members want to sign on, the professors who wrote it would welcome the additional support.

  17. I don't see...  

    D.Mow (Deborah Mowshowitz)... she's probably too busy making PSETS for those poor pre-meds

  18. Student  

    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.

  19. SEAS

    Someone's gotta be the bad guy

  20. Prof. Tadiar....  

    adopt me?

  21. Wish there were more film professors...  

    but James Schamus! Such an important and influential person to have the support of...

  22. bc’17

    YES SHE CHANGED MY LIFE not even kidding

  23. ^ response to "the real question" ^  

    (oops i accidentally a word. "it" refers to *not* making rape jokes [as in *not* making rape jokes doesn't endorse pain]. figured that was clear from context but i'm amending it anyways)

  24. Tal Malkin

    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

  25. josh whitford  

    I'm a signer.

    Let me clarify that 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.

    • Anonymous

      What was the rush in getting it out? Was it to beat the end of the academic year?

      • Shamus Khan

        Also a signer here (and someone involved in the process). The rush was, simply, to get this done before the end of the semester/graduation. We sacrificed inclusivity for speed. And there was a reason. In many ways, signing such a letter is symbolic and easy. The symbolism matters -- we want students to know that we have heard their concerns and stand by them. But the major work is still to come. That is actually thinking through what effective policies look like, and how to address campus culture and climate. Those things are more of a long slog. You should hear more from faculty about that at the start of the year, and we will work over the summer to develop a broad coalition to work with students and the administration. This letter was a first step to convey to those students who felt alone that they are not alone. I'd encourage students to hold faculty accountable for the next steps of working to make Columbia a better community. That will take a much broader group effort.

        • ssds  

          Hey Shamus im a student in your class and I want to know if you want to 420 blaze it with me sometime this week before I graduate ? If you do just write the letter H on the board during our final

        • CC 15  

          Professor Khan, what a fantastic response. This is exactly the kind of message I've been waiting for and hoping for coming out of these conversations. I hope to hear more from you and your faculty colleagues soon about your plans and how students can be actively involved--not sure how that info will be shared but I'll be looking for it!

        • the tables have turned  

          shamus i give you an A+

        • Hey Professor Khan

          I bet falsely accused students feel alone. Did you ever think of that? Or, how about this port-modern conundrum - if two gay girls had sex after a night of drinking, one feels betrayed afterwards, which one would you support and which one would you label a rapist?

  26. I'm Just Worried  

    ...that the insane amount of lip-service this issue has been getting over the course of this semester will amount to just that: lip-service.

    I personally don't get this community's insistence on making a big show out of how sexual assault is wrong, how consent-is-sexy, etc etc. These are all things we agree with on the abstract, but at the same time, sexual assault is facilitated and pretty much accepted by the students themselves, of all stripes. In my 4 years here, I've never seen a single one of you people chaperone a drunken fool out of a frat party in order to avoid him/her getting assaulted, but boy do you like signing petitions and making noise. You don't watch out for each other at all, and this is the community you get as a result: one where we all pretend to care about victims, but are really just trying to say the right things in a left-leaning environment.

    Please don't respond with the whole "well, it raises awareness" cop-out so many are wont to opt for when defending this sort of circlejerk. No amount of awareness-raising is going to change the frat or bar scene anytime soon. All it's given us so far is a cadre of really, really useless, sanctimonious idiots that try and ban rape jokes.

  27. Quick qu  

    Say there are a bunch of profs who signed from one dept, does that mean the other profs in that dept did not want to sign..? Just wondering. See a ton of my profs on here, which is great, but also a ton of profs who are in the same depts who aren't on here (but I would imagine saw this? Maybe not.)

  28. Go professors!  

    This makes me feel good about our community.

  29. Anonymous

    Professors rushing to please the irrational mob, and not calling for caution should not be teaching at Columbia! Shameful!

    Presumed Guilty: Due Process Lessons of the Duke Lacrosse Case - are we ever going to learn?

    I hope professor Shame-us will read more on the famous Duke Lacross Players process. Most shamefully, a number of Duke professors known as the “Group of 88” published a statement in the campus newspaper implying that accusations were true and expressing approval of student protesters who had rushed to judgment (some protestors had even hoisted a sign calling for the lacrosse players’ castration). Through it all, Duke President Richard Brodhead failed to urge the campus community to respect the presumption of the accused students’ innocence. In the end, Mangum’s accusations were shown to be false, Mike Nifong was disbarred, and President Brodhead had to apologize for abandoning his own students to the mob. As shown in the video below, North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper mournfully called the case “the result of a tragic rush to accuse.” Please read:

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