Community convenes for talk
Dean of Students Jim Terhune and College President William “Bro” Adams hosted a community forum for students, faculty and staff in Page Commons Monday, Feb. 6 in order to respond to the recent sexual misconduct investigation by working collectively to prevent this sort of behavior on the Hill and create a community of “respect and civility,” Adams said.
In an e-mail invitation to the members of the College community, Terhune wrote, “The purpose of this gathering will be to discuss issues of concern to our community that were raised by and are relevant to the recently concluded sexual misconduct investigation and its outcomes. These issues include but are not necessarily limited to sexual misconduct and Colby’s related policies, mutual respect, honesty, civility and our collective responsibility to ourselves, each other and our community.”
The discussion brought together students and members of the administration to speak in an open environment, the first of such talks to occur since the decision regarding the 15 football players involved in the case of sexual misconduct in November. The discussion served as an opportunity for the administration to update the community on the adjudication and answer students’ questions regarding the investigation. Terhune said 14 of the 15 cases have been resolved, with two students who have left the College and 12 who have been suspended for one or more semesters.
However, more important than answering questions regarding the investigation, which have associated federal confidentiality laws and College policies, Adams said, “is to have a really open and good conversation about how we build a stronger culture here of respect and civility among members of the community, especially as these gather around issues of gender, sexual identity [and] diversity.”
The discussion included attention to adding a Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies (WGSS) requirement to the core curriculum of the College. Grey Benjamin ’14 reflected on his experience in a JanPlan WGSS class. He said, “It’s not supposed to be easy to talk about,” while Rosie Wennberg ’13 said of a WGSS requirement, “everyone can relate to it. We are all some sort of human.”
Furthermore, within the discussion, Adams expressed his concern over the stereotyping of the Colby football team following the accusations. He said, “Their welfare also has to be part of our concern.” Adams continued to say that the administration is responsible for the well-being of every student at the College.
Last weekend at a meeting, the Board of Trustees decided to add a new member to the administration at the College that will specifically deal with the issues of gender and sexual identity. About 20 students, staff and faculty have been working on the development of such a position as a part of Adams’ ad-hoc committee.
Gender and Sexuality Diversity Resource Officer Berol Dewdney ’13 said, “It’s been a huge group of people working together, and that’s what’s gotten it this far.” Dewdney also said that she thinks that having the dedicated administrative position will make the development of the sexuality and gender resource program much easier.
Since the onset of the financial crisis in 2008, the College has not been in a position to add many new positions. Terhune said he is glad that the position to support gender and sexual diversity awareness and education at Colby is among the first new positions the College will be adding at this time.