Zero Tolerance for Sex AssaultWhen I read about the recent incidents of sexual assault on campus, the vigil at President Harward’s house, and the follow-up policy change regarding student notification of incidents (“Sex-Assault Cases Challenge Home Rule,” spring 1998), what welled up most inside me was the sickening feeling of a familiar reality.
I remembered the reality that at a Halloween party in Chase Hall at Bates, grain alcohol was served in a purple punch. I had five glasses, and then a stranger pushed me onto a couch in Skelton Lounge. He straddled me, holding me by the shoulders and trying to kiss my face and neck. I had to physically throw him off me to leave. In the bathroom, mascara smeared, lipstick red around my lips, and drunk, I stood looking in the mirror for several long minutes before going back to my dorm.
I remembered the reality that in just my group of friends and acquaintances at Bates, I knew two females who were raped: one by an alumnus on a Back-to-Bates Weekend, the other by her former boyfriend, a student then.
I remembered the reality that in 1991, there were several sexual attacks on campus that sparked a student outcry and similar administrative posturing. As a senior, I protested many of the same issues of notice and safety with a group of my peers.
Issues of safety on a closely knit campus, where vulnerability and trust run high among students and their parents, are vital to making the college experience survivable. This vulnerability and trust seem inherent in the process of going to college. College students are out on their own, making some of their own decisions, sometimes for the first time, in the still-limited environment of independence marked by linen-service, dormitory living, and largely unrestricted access to alcohol.
The answer is not that these earmarks of college life must go, or even can go. While college is about academic and intellectual growth, it is also largely about social growth. With this unique transition from home and high school to the “real world,” a higher responsibility must fall on the administration of such a transitory institution to recognize the behavior made perhaps even more possible by the circumstances surrounding the education, housing, and care of college students.
There is an issue to be made about the involvement of the criminal justice system in the recent events at Bates. One side of this is that police involvement depends, as it does with any crime, on the personal choice of a victim to make a report. Particularly with intimate crimes, however, there are many disincentives to a victim to proceed with a criminal charge. Thus, while the administration may point to the victims’ decisions not to press charges in these cases, if Bates representatives discouraged them in any way from pressing criminal charges, Bates bears added responsibility for hindering a societal change in the attitude that such acts of sexual assault aren’t criminal.
To this larger point, perpetrators’ enrollment in college doesn’t make their behavior any less criminal in the eyes of the law. Students who rape are citizens who rape. While an internal process affords some placement of accountability and protection for students if a victim decides not to press criminal charges, it is important to recognize the limitations of that process, and the ways in which it replaces placing societal accountability on these offenders.
Bates is not wholly unlike the outside world. Sexual assault and harassment are societal problems. The administration must take an active role in changing individual student and also collective social realities. Zero tolerance of sexual assault must be the goal of the administration and larger society.
Wide-eyed amazement that this continues to happen does not cut it any more. It is neither feasible nor honest for the administration to say that “it doesn’t happen here.” It is more realistic and I think would be ultimately more appealing to parents and incoming students to be educated from the start about Bates’ proactive approach, were Bates to take an active position on sexual assault, date rape, and other forms of intimate violence.
In its defensive response to publicity around these events, Bates loses the chance to score more serious points that it could gain by being proactive. The administration can start actively encouraging its community to take responsibility for the reality of sexual assault and harassment on college campuses and in the world around. Someone has to set an example, why not Bates?
Katherine J. Faragher ’91
For further discussion of issues surrounding sexual assaults on campus, see President Harward’s column in this issue. — Editor
Many thanks to Alexander Lassen ’96 for his letter “Art Brings Joy” (spring 1998 issue). The Bates College Museum of Art indeed does have a fine and growing permanent collection of high-quality art works. It is a splendid educational facility for students, and, under the direction of Genetta McLean and her colleagues, not only holds important shows but also serves a wide area with an extensive community outreach program (too often neglected by museums). Several years ago, President Harward and I discussed a creation of a friends group for the Museum of Art, to provide the museum additional support. This is now a reality, and interested alumni and friends can make contributions that go directly to the museum.
Alas, to the controversial. In his letter in the spring issue (“Real Threat Is from the Right”), William Tucker ’67 mentioned my name seven times, which is all he got right. It doesn’t take a Ph.D. to recognize a crucial difference between attacks on academic freedom from the outside(such as those he cites in the 1940s and 1950s) and those from inside academia itself, such as that of scholasticism in the Middle Ages and the current assault by campus radicals, which effectively seize control of education.
Lamentably, Tucker himself descends into McCarthyism in defaming a whole generation of social scientists whom he alleges “spent decades providing enthusiastic support for a host of repugnant policies [including] Jim Crow laws…and involuntary sterilization of ‘defectives.'” Granted, there were a few — a very few — social scientists (none at Bates!) guilty of this. But to pretend, as Tucker does, that these few reactionaries were the proximate cause of the radical movements of the 1960s or somehow excuse the politicization of higher education today is beyond bizarre, it is downright silly.
Tucker alleged that the NEH during the Bush administration denied federal grants to some scholars on political grounds, calling this “the real rules of political orthodoxy,” and cited one such scholar with connections to the Modern Language Association and to Bates. Although I seriously doubt this charge, I understand why grants to some MLA activists might have been denied. Despite its innocuous name, the MLA is the most radically PC “scholarly” group in America. Descriptions of discussion topics and lectures at its annual conventions read like a Saturday Night Live parody of political correctness gone totally loony. Those views reflected at Bates are not comforting to alumni who want fair play on campus for mainstream conservative views.
Finally, I noted Tucker’s patronizing comment that I didn’t sound like a dreaded “anti-intellectual,” and I assure him that if I were, he would have nothing to fear from me. He should, however, studiously avoid logicians.
Charles W. Radcliffe ’50
Roiling in Wakely’s Wake
I commend James Wakely ’82 for being so frank in his recent contribution to Bates Magazine(“Whither ‘Quiet, Conservative’ Bates?” spring 1998). I am glad that his criticism of “non-conforming extremists” did not prevent him from putting his own views across.
A few additions:
(1) A quick litany of past non-conforming extremists: Socrates, Jesus, Galileo, Emily Dickinson, Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Bob Dylan.
(2) A historical reference: For at least 200 years of American history, WASP males were given preference due to race, religion, and sex. For those of you who are counting, that’s 200 years of diplomas diminished. More, if some had their way.
(3) “The basis of our government being the opinion of the people, the very first object should be to keep that right.” This was said neither by a beatnik nor by a cabal of administrators, but by Thomas Jefferson. By the same man: “a little rebellion now and then is a good thing, and as necessary in the political world as storms in the physical.”
(4) Eight workers ordered out at 4 a.m. to erase a GLBA display says far more about a school’s principles than any speaker ever could.
I too would like to see Bates become an “unmatched beacon of education, morality, and civility.” I only define the words differently. Education for me means not censorship and indoctrination, but experience and openmindedness. Morality is not whether other people are different than I, but whether I treat them with dignity and respect, and accord them the same space that I would like. And civility is not silence, but honesty, coupled with a willingness to listen.
I’ll close by mentioning something Mr. Wakely didn’t, and something which few others do. The C word: class. With a $30,000 price tag, Bates is hardly an egalitarian institution. That, and not what goes on in a walk across the Quad, is the real injustice. I question those who fear the latter before they do the former.
Jeremy Breningstall ’97
This letter is in response to James Wakely ’82’s hysterical pleas for “a quiet conservative school of students with solid mainstream values.” Wakely’s histrionics regarding those he considers “misfits” and “get-a-lifers” are sophomoric and distracting. Bates seeks to educate and enlighten in the classical tradition of the arts and sciences. In fact, in the context of the Enlightenment, Bates continues to be a torchbearer for the ideals of Jefferson and the other great Renaissance men of his age. In a world discouragingly cynical towards the value of a classical liberal-arts education, Bates is, in fact, a conservative bastion. Wakely, however, seems to be calling for a different kind of conservatism — a social conservatism. Yet the foundation upon which Bates has grown is fundamentally radical from a social perspective. Founded in 1855, Bates was born of the idea that it was important that women and black Americans have access to higher education. We take them for granted now, but those values in 1855 were hardly mainstream. If anything, the mainstream perceived them as suspicious, subversive, and misguided.
It was precisely that blend of academic classicism (emphasis on the humanities and sciences) and social liberalism that compelled me to apply to and attend Bates. I believe that is true for many others. For those who seek hardcore “mainstream” values, who are threatened by “non-conforming extremists,” who fail to appreciate a little lunacy here and there, there are plenty of “mainstream” institutions that offer environments as colorful as a piece of cardboard. I’m not even sure what “mainstream” means. I tend to associate it with the likes of the not-so-extraordinary and unoriginal. Bates, however, exists to fertilize independent and creativethinking, not to maintain ephemeral, as opposed to timeless, values. Of course, the imposition of a “politically correct” administrative agenda is no more reasonable than the socially conservative one as expressed by Wakely, for both are unwaveringly dogmatic and seriously lacking a sense of irony. In an ideal world each could be heard yet render the other harmlessly impotent.
Bates is not perfect. It does not offer the diversity, energy, or some of the opportunity of a major urban university. Yet it is a place where intelligent students and dedicated scholars can freely communicate and inform. And despite the humorless calls by what sounds like the Queen Victoria Fan Club, it will hopefully remain a place where students can feel free to experiment with self expression and exploration.
Adam Glassman ’95
If James Wakely ’82 is so concerned with restoring Bates’ status as an “unmatched beacon of education, morality, and civility,” he would be well advised, as an alum and representative of that “Golden Age” to which he refers, to demonstrate those qualities in his letter. Instead, Wakely employs the familiar, soggy rhetoric of those who mistake political correctness for an ideology rather than a marker of struggle for social justice in our time. Political correctness is an indicator of our commitment to justice; it is not its destination. But rather than considering this and the entire situation surrounding Coming Out Weekend critically, Wakely falls back on absurd, sensationalistic name-calling to claim that Bates has turned into some $30,000-a-year PC playpen for “non-conforming extremists” and “get-a-lifers.” Although I was one of the protesters, I can assure Wakely that I am neither “mindless” nor “obsessed” as he accuses.
Nowhere is Wakely’s simplistic and sensational approach more apparent than when he likens student activism, which is indicative of the free exchange of ideas and egalitarian commitment vital to Bates’ success, to an “unfocused, hedonistic maelstrom.” What is worse is that Wakely predicates his claims on the fact that a small number of students, less than five percent, protested during Coming Out Weekend. He claims that the College’s response was, therefore, unwarranted. To say that because a group is small, their claims are invalid is hardly an educated, moral, or civil declaration.
Moreover, I would ask Wakely to inform himself about the issues at hand more thoroughly before publishing his conclusions, let alone withdrawing his financial support. Despite any amount of disagreement Wakely or anyone else might have to the events in question, to say that students “cry[ed] a little bit and the administration immediately beg[ged] forgiveness” is a ridiculously simplistic and inaccurate account of those events, which leads me to question the quality of the information from which Wakely draws his conclusions.
The hegemonic, ultra-conservative, ultra-mainstream, old boys’ club at Bates that Wakely glorifies is not totally gone, but is slowly being called into question. And for that I am glad. Wakely is, of course, welcome not to share in this sentiment. I would only ask that his disagreement not take the form of misleading, simplistic, and sensationalistic hype all in the heroic name of “saving” the College.
Jason Goldman ’00
Santa Ana, Calif.
For the past two years I have read a number of letters that have dismayed me, but those in the spring 1998 edition dealing with gay and lesbian issues on the campus were more than I could stomach. Obviously, homophobia and bigotry are apparently acceptable to a number of alumni of Bates, and even a few need to be reminded that Bates is not allied with any sect or denomination, making it impossible for the College to stand up for Christian values, as one letter writer insists it must.
The Bates College that I attended was not “a quiet conservative” school, but a liberal, free-thinking institution of higher education. I was a student there when Bates became one of the first schools in the nation to offer coeducational dorms, sort of a 1970s version of alternative lifestyles. Bigotry and homophobia existed at Bates then, too, but it was not as blatant as it appears to be today. Had the Gay-Lesbian-Bisexual Alliance existed at Bates then, it may have kept me from years of denial and self-contempt while dealing with my own sexual-orientation issues. Such an organization is desperately needed by gay and lesbian students at Bates and I applaud the College’s support of the organization, as well as efforts to address homophobia on campus. I am ashamed that I find it necessary to remind Bates alumni and students that being gay or lesbian or bisexual is not a choice but a fact of life which must be dealt with.
I believe that Bates has the duty and moral obligation to continue to allow the free expression of ideas and to continue to address bigotry and homophobia as they raise their ugly heads on campus. As for the alumni of the College, it may be too late, but hopefully by continuing to cover these issues in your magazine, more and more of them will remember what the educational experience at Bates is all about.
Daniel C. Walsh ’74
Pawleys Island, S.C.
Charles Radcliffe ’50 opened a debate that was long overdue at Bates and probably at the majority of colleges in the United States. Incident after incident for many years have confirmed that Bates is carrying to an extreme an effort to placate every small group and to take a liberal course on every issue.
Were we to be doing college tours now for our children, we would search farther afield for what we hope could be found: a few colleges that have held to old-fashioned mainstream values and morals, along with excellent academic standards and reasonable, but not luxurious, physical-plant growth.
College students today are extremely privileged. Did I also read in the President’s Column (spring 1998) that “a record 31 percent of those with loans expressed major concern about their ability to repay them”? Perhaps their college years are so privileged that they find it difficult to take a few steps backward to repay their loans. Why aren’t more parents providing more money instead of such high percentages of the student body needing financial aid? Perhaps because college costs rise o much faster than the cost of living. And finally, why are these already privileged young people being given so much voice in running the College?
To Radcliffe, Coorssen, Hayman, Wakely, and others who will speak out along these lines, I add my voice. And to Bates I say: If you continue to expect these vast sums of money from alumni, then you must respect and act on a broader spectrum of opinion from your alumni.
Lois Johnson Carson ’54
The Wrong Values
As a member of the Class of ’53, I found Charles Radcliffe ’50’s original letter (“AIDS and Alumni,” spring 1997) interesting and all the further responses stimulating. Radcliffe, whom I knew quite well from September 1948 to June 1950 as an upperclassman and quasi-hero of mine, was then a political conservative and a religious liberal, as understood by the atmosphere of those years.
We need a clearer definition of “conservative.” I myself moved to the left politically in 1951 and was politically radical from 1964 to 1975 against the war in Vietnam. I voted for Clinton in the last two elections. But I basically agree with Radcliffe on the question of homosexuality. I got married in 1954; we raised three children and are still married. So I am politically liberal and socially conservative.
One of the disastrous social consequences of the American Indochina wars was that the homosexuals turned to politics and dared to suggest that they should get the same privileges as married people. They are hitch-hiking on the outrage against black segregation and discrimination. They play on a false image of martyrdom.
Today the moral atmosphere at Bates is no different from any other college. The students mostly reflect TV values, because the church, the state, and the faculty have all declined in authority since 1950. The tragedy of America today is that so many, including students and apparently some young administrators, think that Hollywood values should be the values of all America in the future. Hollywood houses a very special artistic industry, which does not discriminate against gays and might even prefer them. The movie industry is more likely to discriminate against children, teetotalers, and abstainers from psychoactive drugs than sexual libertines. There is ample evidence that it is difficult to maintain a traditional marriage in that atmosphere. Artists are a special kind of people. A capitalist society is a meritocracy and will always discriminate against some people.
I appreciate Radcliffe’s and Bates Magazine’s boldness in writing about this taboo subject. For some years now, traditionalists have been afraid to disagree publicly with groups like the campus press and college administrators, which are more socially radical than most institutions in America. Bates must tolerate the right of the homosexuals and lesbians to speak and to write, but Bates does not have to encourage their demands for health benefits, dormitory space, and the right to marriage, which stems from Hawaii, a few emotional judges, not Maine. Hedonistic students at Ohio University have taken over columns in the student newspaper for about four or five years. I simply ignore all their rallies and editorials as experimental, although I personally am annoyed by this cultivation of irrationality. They have naive things to say about drugs, alcohol, and tobacco, also. That is the price of growing up. Let these minorities engage in their sexual activities and binge drinking in private, the same as everybody else. There is a difference between a political right and the demand for status and privilege.
Robert Whealey ’52
The writer is associate professor of history at Ohio University. — Editor
Populating Our Memories
Several alumni have taken the time to share their memories of Bates people who have recently died. Below are excerpts of those letters.
My father, Charles H. Stauffer, was a professor of chemistry and chairman of the division of natural sciences at Bates from 1965 to 1977, when he retired. In 1968, he was named a Charles A. Dana Professor, the first faculty member to receive this honor intended to recognize outstanding teachers. He was a dedicated teacher who always had the greatest respect from his colleagues and students. He liked to remain in the background, avoiding tributes and recognition. But beyond his accomplishments, I know he was very proud of his three children who happened to choose teaching as their lives’ work. What better tribute can we give to our father?
Anne E. Stauffer ’67
Professor Stauffer died Sept. 30, 1997, in Lewiston. His obituary appeared in the winter 1998 Bates Magazine. — Editor
During the fall of 1925, I elected a course in English literature taught by a professor by the name of William Hartshorn. By research, I learned that Professor Hartshorn was born in Lisbon, Maine, in 1863, graduated from Bates in 1886, and served as principal and superintendent of schools in Laconia, New Hampshire, after graduation. It was there that I spent the last 25 years of my career as a school administrator, retiring as superintendent of schools in 1970.
Dr. Hartshorn went on from Laconia to teach physics, geometry, and English literature at Bates, serving as acting president of Bates for a brief period after President Gray’s 1919 death.
Professor Hartshorn was a large man with a good sense of humor reflected in his presentations. Seated in his large chair, facing the class, he would swing his foot over one knee, using his pocket knife to whet the blade on the sole of his leather shoe as he reflected the feelings of Shylock preparing to carve out a pound of flesh in payment for the debt owed to him.
I was the first student to enter his class one morning for a 7:40 session. Seated in his large chair facing the class, Professor Hartshorn had his head tilted to one side; the exertion of climbing the flights of stairs in Hathorn Hall to the top-floor classroom was just too much for his heart.
A memorial service was held in the Bates Chapel for him. As a member of the Garnet quartet, we stood in the balcony and sang his favorite hymn, “Rock of Ages.” As one of the fine instructors I had while attending Bates, he made the deepest impression, which enables me to now recall the techniques he used in getting across his subject to his students. Although it happened many years ago, I will never forget his sly sense of humor with his touch of dramatics that will always be a part of my favorite memories of him.
Victor H. Bowen ’27
Indeed, according to a nine-page tribute in The Bates Alumnus of May 1926, Professor Hartshorn was stricken just before students arrived for that morning class, after he had opened his volume of Paradise Lost to the day’s assignment and removed his eyeglasses from his pocket. “Students…found him sitting there, his head bent forward, peacefully as though asleep. Dr. E.F. Pierce ’94 of Frye Street was called, but Professor Hartshorn was gone beyond earthly help,” read the account of the day. — Editor
If one word could describe Ilene Avery, which of course it can’t, it would be energy — an amazing, boundless, and seemingly endless mental and physical energy. She would draw you into her thoughts, which would leap from one pinnacle to another, then head off in another direction. She could walk your legs off, even if you were much younger than she. When one of her hips finally wore out, she had it replaced and kept right on going!
Ilene had a strong New England sense of justice and equality that sometimes got her into hot water in Spain, where she lived much of her life. She refused to accept the boundaries of class, to the surprise and dismay of some of her upperclass friends. A doorman and a cleaning woman were among her favorite people.
She loved animals, especially her own Siamese cats for whom she would buy and chop fresh liver for daily. Plants, too, gave her great joy; the flowers and cool greenery of her terraces six floors above the noisy heat of the streets of Madrid were always a welcome oasis.
Ilene continued working, even as she battled cancer, refusing to admit its power over her. On her visit to Maine last Christmas, she was proud of her short, silvery hairdo and full of plans for a book she was writing about the transition from Franco to democracy. It was not to be. By mid-March she was gone, but remembered with admiration and love as one who lived life to its fullest.
Like the “Flower by the Wayside” described by Ilene’s favorite Spanish poet, Juan Ramón Jiménez, our memory of her must remain forever — “Su recuerdo podrá ser eterno.” For those of us who knew her, it will.
Kay Dill Taylor ’58
Peaks Island, Maine
The obituary for Ilene Avery, who taught Spanish at Bates in the 1950s, appears in this issue. — Editor
Although I never had an older brother, Ernest “Robbie” Robinson ’37, ten years my senior, fulfilled that function, even though our companionship encompassed a mere eight years, ending with his death last April.
He arrived at Bates as a country youth from Aroostook County, where he had never handled a football. But because of his robust six-foot-three stature, “Ducky” Pond asked him to try out. He was offered the ball and told to try to run through the varsity squad, which he proceeded to do with steamroller-like efficiency, heading through the goalposts toward the exit gate. “Close the gates! Close the gates!” came the call from the coach, and there began a college career.
On the debate team at Bates, Robbie honed his speaking ability, his skill with words, his remarkable ability to relate to people of many backgrounds, and persuasive qualities which brought him success in later years. Only knowing him during the latter part of his retirement, I found him a companion of a surprisingly varied field of interests; of course, he was most knowledgeable about fishing lore and woods lore, relating tales from his father in Aroostook County and his experiences as the youngest Maine Guide at age 19, to his recent adventures in Vermont on the Waits and White rivers.
We spent many hours discussing these experiences while we improvised and improved our fly-tying skills at his well-organized work bench. He was at his best then, as a devil’s advocate, as we discussed political issues; he the careful conservative, and I the rash radical. A poor match for his analytical skills, I would return home to research a pertinent article with which to confront him. Often I would find a historical fact to spring upon him, only to find that he was an amateur authority on American history, and could elaborate on my new-found information in detail. On appropriate moments he would recite poetry from Tennyson or Frost or numerous other poets, from memory, much to my amazement. His knowledge of mycology or mushrooms was encyclopedic, and his appreciation of the gourmet flavor of fiddlehead ferns was ecstatic.
As his illness took its gradual toll, he showed amazing determination to conquer its iniquities. His warmth, personality, interest in others, always shielded them from the true gravity of his condition. I always stood taller next to Robbie’s striking stature, elevated not only physically, but intellectually and spiritually. I was a little brother enriched by an association permanently etched into my memory.
John F. Radebaugh ’48
The obituary for Ernest Robinson ’37 appears in this issue. — Editor
Bates College during World War II was the picture-perfect small New England campus: tree-lined walks, ivy-covered brick buildings, and a bell that tolled on the hour.
The reality of the war was ever-present, however. A contingent of V-12 Naval officers were our classmates. And there was “Herr Professor” — Ossip Flechtheim — to remind us further. He landed on campus from Nazi Germany, courtesy of a program to rescue German-Jewish intellectuals.
He was a distinctive figure: short, stocky, and roundfaced. His head seemed attached to his body without a neck. Round, wire-rimmed gold spectacles added to the “Herr Professor” image. In the winter he was an arresting figure, walking away from campus dressed in an ankle-length overcoat, collar turned up, head enveloped by a scarf. He had a distinctive penguin-like gait, and the effect produced was an overcoat waddling down the street on its own.
Chapel was required every day at Bates then, only 10 cuts a semester and then you were in trouble. Each day, there was a devotional and often a faculty or outside speaker. Eventually we heard every faculty member — but never Herr Professor. Finally, in our senior year, he was scheduled to speak. His opening comment was, “I have climbed Mount David countless times but it has taken me three years to mount the three steps to this podium.” This was a clear dig at the administration, and I admired him for it. To most of the students he was a figure to mimic and his presence at the lectern was, I suspect, a grudging one. But that day his loyal following was vindicated. He gave the best talk of all the other faculty, with wit and scholarship. And he was roundly applauded, which hadn’t happened before.
At the end of the war, Flechtheim returned to Germany and participated in the Nuremberg trials. He went onto become a highly respected scholar in political science and professor at the Free University of Berlin. He introduced the concept of futurology in the United States and is considered an early pioneer. He also wrote extensively on the third road between capitalism and socialism.
He died last March. By the end, he was hard put to remember his writings and his accomplishments, but his small band of Bates students remember.
Rhona Isaacson Shoul ’46
The obituary for Ossip Flechtheim will appear in the winter issue. — Editor