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Dismiss Boston University Professor Eric Ruske

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Last school year at an open mic performance, dozens of students, including myself, walked solemnly, hearts heavy, up to a microphone to discuss our on-campus experiences of sexual violation. Dean Elmore was extended a handwritten letter, inviting him to attend, as we desperately wanted him to see how many individuals had been affected by our poisonous campus climate and hear our stories. He never came, or even responded to our inquiry. A week later, I started collecting anonymous accounts of sexual assault from students of Boston University via facebook, e-mail, and text message. Altogether, I received over thirty stories of on campus sexual assault at my beloved school from anonymous peers within the span of a school week. Several of them reported that they had taken it to the dean, Kenneth Elmore, yet had not seen any action taken against their rapists, abusers, or assaulters. In one instance, a survivor had won her case against her rapist, and yet said rapist was still allowed to walk campus, where she was often forced to see her attacker daily.

It is Boston University's deepest shame that we are currently under a federal investigation for Title IX violations, a statute in place to ensure that individuals, especially women, receive equity and protection on university campuses. As a place of higher education, Boston University has a dark political past. Last year, I had the privilege of speaking to the first black female vocalist at Marsh Chapel. While BU likes to tout the fact that Martin Luther King Jr. attended school here, it does nothing to mask her stories of harassment and silencing by BU faculty and the surrounding community, who often wrongly punished students of color who engaged in peaceful protest on campus.

Currently, two brave individuals - a current and former student, both female - have come forward with allegations against Eric Ruske, a prolific music professor. Boston University countered by filing a motion to dismiss the charges, saying that “The complaint does not assert that Ruske sexually assaulted the plaintiffs, or touched them inappropriately beyond a few hugs and kisses on the cheek, or demanded — or even suggested — sexual favors as a quid pro quo for better grades". 

Even if this was the case, and both survivors were lying for reasons unfathomable, Boston University and their lawyer, Lawrence S. Elswit, egregiously fail to understand that unwanted physical contact of any sort is sexual harassment. Moreover, in the shadow of these charges, Boston University has permitted Ruske to teach at a music enrichment program, where he will instruct youth as young as 14 to 20 years of age.

The motion went on to call the allegations - or "rumors" as they put it- "vague and hyperbolic". Why does it fail to acknowledge that the allegations point to a repeat pattern of behavior: kissing and hugging, then asking for illicit photos? What is it about our President, our Dean, and our faculty that makes them not want to believe students who will forever be traumatized, their lives changed forever, robbed of their humanity? 

To me, a student and a fellow survivor, Boston University is an institution with infinite potential, if not for its terribly incompetent leadership and active endangerment of marginalized populations. In light of these circumstances, and all inappropriate behaviors and responses listed above, I, the signers of this petition, and the Boston University student body demand:

  • That Professor Eric Ruske be terminated without any sort of severance package or recommendations
  • That Boston University cease all action against the allegations to reach a settlement with Ruske's victims
  • That Boston University hire specialists for and engage more of its assets in sexual assault prevention and counseling

Colleges are historical centers of revolution and progressive change. When our leadership fails us, we students and civilians must step in to make the change for ourselves. 

"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." -Martin Luther King, Jr.

 



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Katharine Kolin needs your help with “Association of American Universities: Dismiss Boston University Professor Eric Ruske, Dean Kenneth Elmore, and President Brown”. Join Katharine and 512 supporters today.