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Petitioning President Michael Roth

Student Letter of Support for Professor Caldwell

We, Wesleyan Students across campus, stand with Professor Lauren Caldwell.

We are outraged at sexual harassment and retaliation she endured from a fellow faculty member; but more so, we are outraged at the way this University failed her, silenced her, and worked only to keep this case quiet.

As students, we have fought hard for the past two years to reform Title IX policy and procedures for students on campus. However, we also recognize the need to fight to reform the faculty processes and policy for Title IX. We, Wesleyan Students across campus, demand that our faculty are treated lawfully and compassionately. 

We specifically call for reforms that include:

- A separate investigation and sanctioning procedure. It is not fair to have the same personnel investigate and adjudicate the case; this structure allows the University to cover up cases. As in the case of Lauren Caldwell, if one person (Antonio Farias) both investigates and sanctions the case, there is no form of checks and balances built in.

- Review of all Title IX cases by the Faculty Committee on Rights and Responsibilities. We demand that all cases, not just cases that the Title IX Officer deems to call for suspension or termination, are viewed by the faculty committee. This Faculty Committee represents  an elected panel that speaks for the interests of the faculty, not for the interests of the University legal team.

- No more emails to faculty that urge them to stay silent. President Roth and Antonio Farias: only a few months ago you told us that Freedom of Speech is a central value at Wesleyan University. Yet, recently a group of faculty members were told they could not discuss Professor Caldwell’s case with anyone – not peers, not students, no one except the President and General Counsel. That is not freedom of speech. That is silencing our faculty. Let our faculty speak about a case that is now a matter of public record.

- At the next Board of Trustees Meeting please hold a forum where students, faculty, and board members have two hours to specifically raise complaints around Title IX policy and procedure concerns.

- The removal of Antonio Farias as VP of Equity and Inclusion. Antonio Farias, who has been tasked with heading the office that is supposed to support minority students and adjudicate Title IX offenses, has failed again.

- Within Professor Caldwell’s case, he agreed that her aggressor had behaved unprofessionally and was “at fault”, given the slew of sexualized comments made and his “body dynamics”, but he found him not responsible for “intentional” sexual harassment. Antonio Farias does not understand the law or the serious nature of sexual harassment and does not protect victims on campus.

- Antonio Farias told Professor Caldwell to “mop up” the reputation of her harasser / retaliator. This egregious comment shows that he in no way supports survivors.  

As students, we do not feel safe with Antonio Farias leading the Office of Equity and Inclusion. How can a man who consistently minimizes and degrades survivors and minority students truly stand for equality?


We, the Wesleyan Students, stand with Professor Caldwell in demanding reformed policies and procedures to support our Faculty. The university must be held accountable for creating unbiased policy, for guaranteeing faculty their freedom of speech, and for actively caring for survivors of sexual violence, harassment, and retaliation.

 

This petition was delivered to:
  • President Michael Roth


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