Restore Jeremiah Josias Luther George True to His Humanities 110 Conference

Restore Jeremiah Josias Luther George True to His Humanities 110 Conference

March 18, 2015
Petition to
Reed College
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This petition had 3,185 supporters

Why this petition matters

Started by Jeremiah True

Dear Reed College,

Within this petition are many links to much of the research that I have performed during the course of my stay here at Reed. I have approached several members of the faculty concerning my research and my willingness to question what so many people here believe ad nauseam. I have not been believed by your faculty, or I have been dismissed. I have witnessed blatant sexism against men. I have been made to feel unsafe. I have been told that my situation will not be resolved for some time to come, and I am afraid I can not accept that. I have no further recourse. I see no other way to show you how your actions are wrong. I have operated in good faith, within the appropriate channels of the college. I can no longer justify this action. My world is not Reed. My world is Earth. There is a world beyond Reed, and they will be interested in what is happening here.

On Saturday, March 14, I was contacted by my Humanities 110 Professor, Pancho Savery. He banned me from my mandatory Hum 110 class on the grounds that I made students in the conference extremely uncomfortable when I questioned the largely purported 1-in-5 rape statistic. I stated that I did not believe that the rape culture exists. He wrote me that morning, saying:

Sorry for not getting back to you sooner, but I was waiting until I had a conversation with Michael Faletra. The conference spent the entire class hour yesterday discussing the current situation, and several things became clear. There are several survivors of sexual assault in our conference, and you have made them extremely uncomfortable with what they see as not only your undermining incidents of rape, but of also placing too much emphasis on men being unfairly charged with rape. They, and others, do not feel comfortable being in the same classroom with you; not only because of this topic but because of other things you have said to people personally or on facebook in which you seem to undermine women's abilities in general. The entire conference without exception, men as well as women, feel that your presence makes them uncomfortable enough that they would rather not be there if you are there, and they have said that things you have said in our conference have made them so upset that they have difficulty concentrating in other classes. I, as conference leader, have to do what is best for the well-being of the entire class, and I am therefore banning you from conference for the remainder of the semester. Transferring to another conference at this late point in the semester is not an option. You can still get credit for the course by completing the last paper and the final exam. Additionally, I am happy to have you come to my office on a regular basis to discuss the remainder of the semester's readings. Please know that this was a difficult decision for me to make and one that I have never made before; nevertheless, in light of the serious stress you have caused your classmates, I feel that I have no other choice. If you wish to discuss this with me, I am happy to come in early on Monday and talk to you before the lecture. If you desire to do this, let me know.

The day before Professor Savery sent me this e-mail, I sent him one explaining my views on "rape culture".

Hi Pancho,

First, allow me to say that I don't believe that I'm sexist, but even if I am, that doesn't mean I'm wrong about rape culture. Much as Aristotle made the mistake of believing that some people were born to be slaves yet crafted much of ancient philosophy, I think it is possible for a person to hold incorrect views and still have a valid argument. I don't care what I'm labeled as being as long as truth has its day. I was raised by a single mother and my two sisters and was always taught about how powerful and passionate women could be by their examples. I do not believe I am a sexist, but I do place reason above emotion.

I just wanted to point you towards my sources for my argument on Wednesday (and there are many sources beyond these). You say that all arguments must have textual evidence. This is my textual evidence. It is not based on opinions. It is based on data and hard facts. You said to me that it's impossible to be objective. I think when it comes to data and numbers, it must be possible to be objective. We do not serve actual rape victims by over inflating the numbers on rape. "RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network) is the nation's largest anti-sexual violence organization and was named one of "America's 100 Best Charities" by Worth magazine." "Sexual assault has fallen by more than 50% in recent years." “In the last few years, there has been an unfortunate trend towards blaming “rape culture” for the extensive problem of sexual violence on campuses. While it is helpful to point out the systemic barriers to addressing the problem, it is important to not lose sight of a simple fact: Rape is caused not by cultural factors but by the conscious decisions, of a small percentage of the community, to commit a violent crime,”

The argument that our culture propagates and permits rape is simply unfounded. The total population of the U.S. has grown consistently over the past century, yet as our population (and thus, our culture) has grown, rates of rape have fallen. We don't live in a rape culture which propagates the rape of women.

I am critical of the idea of a rape culture because it does not exist. We live in a society that hates rape, but also hasn't optimized the best way to handle rape. Changing the legal definition of rape is a slippery slope. If Sexual assault becomes qualified as rape, what happens next? What else can we legally redefine to become rape? Why would we want to inflate the numbers of rape in our society? Why would we define someone who was groped at an SU dance as a rape victim when just a couple of blocks away, there is an actual, forcible penetrative rape occurring that will actually mentally scar a person for life? Why are we treating someone as a rape victim when they haven't been raped? A groping is not rape, nor should it be redefined to become rape. Rape is traumatic. Sexual assaults (such as groping) can be traumatic, but they are not an invalidation of a person's identity. They do not force someone to open themselves up to violent intrusion and brutal, psychological damage. They are not crimes which women feel afraid to report because they fear backlash and victim blaming. We need to change the system, not change the definition of crime. We have limited resources available to rape victims, and hysteria is not the solution to dealing with the very real problem of rape in our society. I do not believe I am a sexist, but I also think that because I have had family members and dear friends that have been raped, I want accuracy, not hysteria and overblown statistics. I think it's important to treat rape seriously, and not to over inflate it and cause panic. I think it's important to listen to experts when we're talking about these things, and not college students.

See you in conference,

Jeremiah True"

Professor Savery did not deign to respond.

In the case of Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District, 1969, the court decided as follows:

The school did violate the students’ rights. Non-disruptive, passive, symbolic speech cannot be censored just because it makes others uncomfortable. The symbolic wearing of armbands could not be shown to interfere with school discipline. The Supreme Court established the "Tinker Test", the standard that public schools must meet before legally restricting free speech or expression of students. The free expression of public school students can only be restricted if it threatens a material and substantial disruption of the educational process, or invades the rights of others.

In the United States v. Stevens case of 2010, the court decided the Westboro Baptist church could not be prohibited directly or punished indirectly through a lawsuit seeking legal damages.

I have not done anything nearly so heinous or offensive as picketing a soldier’s funeral. I questioned the validity of a statistic in class. I caused members of my class to feel uncomfortable. I did not threaten or intimidate anyone within this class. I apologize that I caused survivors of sexual assault to feel uncomfortable with my views, but the views were in no way threatening or hostile. I did not use any obscenities in class, I did not declare any fighting words, I did not commit perjury, I did not blackmail anyone in the class, I did not engage in incitement to imminent lawless action, I did not engage in "true threats", and I did not engage in solicitations to commit crimes. The college has infringed upon several of its own rules.

From the Faculty Handbook, I.C. Academic Freedom and Responsibility

Section 1. Each Faculty member has individual freedom of inquiry and expression in research, in publication, and in the teaching of his or her subjects and courses. Academic freedom and responsibility are here defined as the liberty and obligation to study, to investigate, and to discuss facts and ideas concerning all branches and fields of learning. No limitations on such freedom shall be imposed other than those required by generally accepted standards of responsible scholarship and research.


From the Faculty Handbook, I.D. Dissent

"The faculty affirms that it has not changed its policy as expressed in the following statement:

'Reed College considers the right of free speech, and therefore, that of dissent, to be fundamental to its life as an academic community. The exercise of the right of dissent is not something to be grudgingly tolerated, but actively encouraged. The boundaries of dissent stop at the point where the exercising of it, and the decisions accompanying the exercise, are denied to others. Accordingly, protests or demonstrations shall not be discouraged so long as neither force nor the threat of force is used, and so long as the orderly processes of the College are not deliberately obstructed. Physical obstruction, the threat and use of force in the interest of dissent, are things which cannot be tolerated in an academic community, and those engaging in it must be regarded as having violated conditions fundamental to the preservation of its integrity and of its very life.

Further, at this College, such acts, striking at the heart of the Community by denying it the functions for which it is organized, constitute a violation of the Honor Principle. Accordingly, persons proved by the Judicial processes of the Community to have engaged in such acts will be considered to have committed honor violations.'"

From the Faculty Handbook, I.E Honor Principle

The preamble to the current community constitution applies to all students, faculty members, and staff members. It states, "We declare our commitment to responsible and honorable conduct in academic and community affairs, and we reaffirm one another's rights to freedom of inquiry and expression in coursework, scholarship, and the day-to-day life of the Reed community. Since such freedom requires an atmosphere of trust and mutual confidence, we further declare that dishonesty, intimidation, harassment, exploitation, and the use or threat of force are incompatible with the preservation of this freedom."

Appendix I AAUP Statement on Professional Ethics I.

Professors, guided by a deep conviction of the worth and dignity of the advancement of knowledge, recognize the special responsibilities placed upon them. Their primary responsibility to their subject is to seek and to state the truth as they see it. To this end professors devote their energies to developing and improving their scholarly competence. They accept the obligation to exercise critical self-discipline and judgment in using, extending, and transmitting knowledge. They practice intellectual honesty. Although professors may follow subsidiary interests, these interests must never seriously hamper or compromise their freedom of inquiry. II. As teachers, professors encourage the free pursuit of learning in their students. They hold before them the best scholarly and ethical standards of their discipline. Professors demonstrate respect for students as individuals and adhere to their proper roles as intellectual guides and counselors. Professors make every reasonable effort to foster honest academic conduct and to ensure that their evaluations of students reflect each student's true merit. They avoid any exploitation, harassment, or discriminatory treatment of students. They acknowledge significant academic or scholarly assistance from them. They protect their academic freedom.

As citizens engaged in a profession that depends upon freedom for its health and integrity, professors have a particular obligation to promote conditions of free inquiry and to further public understanding of academic freedom.

Faculty members should exercise informed good judgment. Some faculty members may think it appropriate to tell students that all questions concerning anyone’s behavior should be referred to the Honor Council, to the Dean of Students or Dean of the Faculty, or to Health Services. Other faculty members may believe it part of their professional responsibilities to talk with students about problems, including personal problems, that go beyond their own scholarly competence, strictly defined. Faculty members who hold this latter view should be aware, and when appropriate, should inform their students, that only the staff of Health Services can have a legally protected confidential relationship with a student with respect to Chapter 7: Communication Between Faculty and Students 51 discrimination or harassment. Faculty members with questions about their duty to report may consult with the Dean of the Faculty or his or her designee, without revealing an alleged victim’s or offender’s name, in order to determine whether or not the situation requires further inquiry or the initiation of a formal process.

My situation was not handled appropriately, and I would like to return to my class.

From the ACLU of Oregon: The framers of the U.S. Constitution believed that the freedom of inquiry and liberty of expression were the hallmarks of a democratic society. The First Amendment of the Bill of Rights provides protections in a number of areas including free speech.

The framers of the Oregon free speech equivalent, often referred to as our free expression provision, were even more protective of our rights.

Historically, at times of national stress, real or imagined free speech rights come under enormous pressure. During the “Red Scare” of the 1920s, thousand were deported for their political views. During the McCarthy period, the infamous blacklist ruined lives and careers. Today, protestors of U.S. government policies are attacked and creators, producers and distributors of popular culture are often blamed for the nation’s deep social problems.

Calls for censorship threaten to erode free speech.

The First Amendment and Oregon’s free expression provision protect popular speech and the most offensive and controversial speech from government suppression. The best way to counter obnoxious speech is with more speech. Persuasion, not coercion, is the solution.

Reed does not encourage you to just agree—Reed teaches you to critically examine everything you hear and everything you read, and not take anybody’s word. You have to have the skill to think, and investigate, and engage in rational dialogue. At most schools you can be a sponge and soak up what everyone around you says and does. You cannot be a sponge at Reed—you have to be active, you have to put yourself out there. -Pancho Savery

I love my college. I love my education. I will show you two examples of work. One is from before I met Pancho Savery, the second is from after.

As you can see, Pancho Savery has been one of the greatest influences in my life. Michael Faletra is directly responsible for my presence in Pancho's class. They had to make an impossible decision, and they chose to make the easy one, rather than the right one. Pancho once said to me that if he wasn't pissing people off then he wasn't doing his job. I have pissed an incongruously large amount of people off on this campus. I do not want Pancho or Michael to be in any way punished for their actions. I do not want my faculty or administration to suffer. I DO NOT WANT REED TO SUFFER. I want to show the people on this campus that their actions will not stand. I want to show the men of this campus that they are not evil and oppressors. The school is not to blame. We must work together, not create gender divides. There is something very wrong with my school.

I have been told that the process necessary to potentially restore me to my class will take five weeks. I will miss out on a wonderful education in those 5 weeks. I can not wait that long. I am concerned for my education, but I am more concerned that there is a mentality on college campuses that this activity is permissible and that my country's sacred right to Freedom of Speech is being ignored. I am a Freedom Feminist, and I believe in Dr. Christina Hoff Sommer's message. I believe Karen Straughan. I believe Janice Fiamengo. I believe that it is on me to stand up for myself, and I will go to the utmost limits of my ability to do it. I am concerned that I can not openly question deeply held beliefs. I do not know if this is the right way to bring attention to it. I have resigned my position on my school's student-run government because of my conviction that this movement has damaged my society and must be stopped. I do not care about legality. I do not care about my place at Reed, should it come to that. I do not know if this is legal action. Something must be done. Will you please help me?

I'm ready to follow this through all the way. I don't care what happens to me, I just want everyone to have their rights respected. I pray I have convinced you of the gravity of this situation.

I have resigned my post from student government, due to risk of breaking our neutrality clause. I have resigned from my school’s faculty theatre production, as I do not want to risk tarnishing the hard work of my director and colleagues with my status as an on-campus political dissident. I am a Freedom Feminist. This is not a good place to be.

I sent this letter to the entirety of the faculty this morning. I am prepared to take this as far as I need to go.
I may be a radical, but I prefer to think that I’m radical in the way that Martin believed Jesus was a radical for love. I believe so strongly in equality that I will put my entire life on the line to stop something that I am convinced endangers that equality.
No matter what happens. I love you, mom. I love you, dad I love you my dear, dear sisters. I love you my dearest friends. I love you all, and I will sacrifice everything for you. I am so sorry that I have kept you at a distance while this has happened. I want to keep you safe. I need to keep you safe. I do not know where my life will go from here. I do not think I will make it out of this unscathed and I am sitting here writing this, sobbing uncontrollably. In spite of all the pain that we have experienced, my family still tries to show they care, however possible. I have hurt them in this time of crisis, and that weighs upon me. I know that, despite our distance and our differences, I love my family and they love me. I do not want to be a martyr, but I will do that if that is what is necessary to make a statement.

I hope you are willing to stand with me,

Jeremiah Josias Luther George True

I am sorry for how poorly written this is. I am sorry for how emotional this is. I do not know how to begin a movement. I do not know what is needed. I simply do not know enough about the world to do this yet, but that is precisely why I came to Reed.

Please, do everything in your ability to spread this petition. This action is horrible, and I will happily take an expulsion or jail time to stop it.

Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. - Martin Luther King, Jr. , Letter from a Birmingham Jail


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