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As sexual assault allegations upsurge in Hollywood, the national conversation surrounding sexual violence and harassment has made its way to historically Black colleges and universities. On Wednesday, November 8, signs accusing students of rape began appearing throughout Spelman College, Morehouse College, and Clark Atlanta University. The signs—which also accused the administrations of the Atlanta University Center Consortium (AUC) of protecting rapists while silencing victims and were later removed by campus police—sparked the resurgence of the hashtag #WeKnowWhatYouDid as students and alumni express their fear, anger and outrage surrounding recent events. In an open letter dated November 13, 2017, Spelman faculty stresses their support for students impacted by sexual harassment and their commitment to enforcing prevention.

“After seeing the signs on campus and watching the hashtag explode on twitter, a group of faculty pulled together a quick, impromptu meeting by phone,” Spelman College assistant professor Ashanté Reese, tells CASSIUS. “We talked about what we saw and read, and what we needed to do as faculty. I suggested that first and foremost, we needed to let the students know we hear them, see them, and support them. That is how the letter was born: out of a collective of faculty who wanted to do something.”

The CASSIUS team is honored to exclusively share the letter. Read it in full below.

Dear Spelman students,

Many of you have tweeted, talked about, or been triggered by the recent hashtag #WeKnowWhatYouDid. You are brave, courageous, and among the best this world has to offer. You are not alone. Thank you for being bold in your declarations and firm in your commitments to end sexual violence and sexual assault. For those who did not share and may feel alone, we see you. You do not owe any of us your story, just as you do not owe anyone your body or spirit.

We are a group of faculty who are committed to ending sexual violence and sexual harassment in the AUC. We want you to know that we love you, we support you, we will fight with and for you, and we will co-create an environment where you are safe. We share your outrage and disgust. No student at Spelman (or any of the AUC schools) should experience a hostile environment in which sexual assault or sexual harassment is commonplace.

You have shown us that our silence does not protect any of us and especially not you.

The fight to change institutional culture in the AUC does not rest solely on your shoulders. We as faculty have a part to play, too. We are committed to making our classrooms safe for all, including gender non-conforming and trans students who may face additional threats of harm. We are committed to challenging the status quo—pedagogically and institutionally. You came here because you trust our institution to invest in your highest self. As an institution we have an obligation to protect you. Because of your bravery and courage, change starts now. You have shown us that our silence does not protect any of us and especially not you.

We know that it is not enough to say we love and support you. Our actions need to follow. Consider this our public declaration that we are here to do the long, challenging, and tiring work of changing policies and attitudes around sexual assault and sexual harassment.

As we collectively work toward change and healing, please remember to take care of yourselves and each other. Find or make space for some laughter, joy, and self-care that remind you that you are here, you are loved, and you are valuable. And in moments when you need an extra hand or an ear, consider us part of your network of support and resources.

We love you. We are proud of you.

In Solidarity,

Dr. Ashanté Reese, Assistant Professor, Sociology and Anthropology

Dr. Beverly Guy-Sheftall, Anna Julia Cooper Professor of Women’s Studies and Founding Director of the Women’s Research and Resource Center

Dr. Cynthia Neal Spence, Associate Professor, Sociology and Anthropology

Dr. Shani Harris, Associate Professor, Psychology

Dr. Kristen Abatsis McHenry, Assistant Professor, Comparative Women’s Studies

Dr. Erica Williams, Associate Professor, Sociology and Anthropology

Dr. Asia Leeds, Co-Director – African Diaspora Studies and Assistant Professor, International Studies

Dr. Angelino Viceisza, Assistant Professor, Economics

Dr. Deanna Koretsky, Assistant Professor, English

Moon Charania, Assistant Professor, International Studies

Charissa Threat, Assistant Professor, History

Dr. Dalila A. de Sousa

Dr. Rosetta E. Ross, Professor, Philosophy & Religious Studies

Dr. Michelle S. Hite, Assistant Professor, English

Leyte Winfield, Associate Professor, Chemistry

Dr. Kathleen Phillips Lewis, Faculty Council President, Assoc. Professor, Department of History

Dr. Kai McCormack, Associate Professor, Psychology

Dr. Stephen Knadler, Professor of English and Chair, Department of English

Dr. Nami Kim, Associate Professor, Philosophy and Religious Studies

Soraya Mekerta, Ph.D Associate professor or French and Francophone studied Department of World Languages and Literature

Dr. Jeanne T. Meadows, Director, International Affairs Center, Founding Chair, International Studies Major

Dr. Patricia Ventura, Associate Professor, English

Dr. Shanya Cordis, Assistant Professor, Sociology and Anthropology

Dr. Lauren Eldridge, Interim Coordinator, Social Justice Scholars Program

Dr. Megan Cream, Assistant Professor, Department of Mathematics

Dr. Karen Brakke, Associate Professor, Psychology

Shanina Sanders Johnson, Assistant Professor, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry

Dr Margery A Ganz, Professor Emerita of History, former Director of Study Abroad

Dr. Kimberly Jackson, Chair and Associate Professor, Chemistry and Biochemistry and Director, Food Studies

Richard D. Benson II, Asst Professor, Education Department

Dr. Shay Welch, Associate Professor of Philosophy, Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies

Dr. Donna Akiba Sullivan Harper, Fuller E. Callaway Professor of English

Dr. Sarah Franzen, Part-time Faculty, Sociology and Anthropology

Dr. Danielle Dickens, Assistant Professor, Psychology

Dr. Sarah RudeWalker, Assistant Professor, English

Dr. Tikenya Foster-Singletary, English

Felicia Fullilove, Lecturer, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry

Dr. Marionette Holmes, Associate Professor and Chair, Economics

Johnnella Butler, Professor, Comparative Women’s Studies

Valerie Jones Taylor, Assistant Professor, Psychology

Robert Brown, Assistant Professor, Political Science

Viveka Brown, Assistant Professor, Mathematics

Aditi Pai, Associate Professor, Biology

Dr. Valeisha Ellis, Assistant Professor , Education Department

Dr. Bernice Scott, Associate Professor, Economics

Nafeesa Muhammad, Instructor, History department

Chateé Omísadé Richardson, Professor/Field & Clinical Coordinator, Education

Dr. Kasahun Woldemariam

Sharan Strange, Senior Lecturer, English Department

Dr. Mona Taylor Phillips, Professor and Chair, Sociology and Anthropology

Dr. Jaye Nias, Assistant Professor, Computer Science

Dr. Natalie Watson-Singleton, Assistant Professor, Psychology

Dr. Luis González-Barrios, Assistant Professor, World Languages and Literature

Dr. Veta Goler, Associate Professor, Dance Performance and Choreography

T. Lang, Associate Professor, Chair of the Department of Dance Performance and Choreography + Director of Spelman Dance Theatre

Dr. Alix Chapman, Assistant Professor, Comparative Women’s Studies

Dr. Michelle Gaines, Assistant Professor, Chemistry

Dr. Julie B. Johnson, Lecturer, Department of Dance Performance and Choreography

T. Anjanette Levert, Lecturer, Art and Visual Culture

Dr. Mark E. Lee, Associate Professor of Biology

Michael Burns-Kaurin, Associate Professor, Physics

Myra Greene, Associate Professor, Arts and Visual Culture

Dr. Calaya Michelle Stallworth, Lecturer, English

Dr. Ayoka Chenzira, Professor, Art & Visual Culture

Prof. Jacquelyn H. Washington, Sociology and Anthropology

Dr. Michelle Bachelor Robinson – Director of Comprehensive Writing Program and English Faculty

Mentewab Ayalew, Associate Professor, Biology

Dr. Alexandria Lockett, Assistant Professor, English

Dr. Pushpa Parekh, Professor, Department of English

Joan McCarty, Theatre and Performance

Dr. Paul K. Jackson, Part-Time Faculty, African Diaspora Studies

Keith Bolden, Assistant Professor, Department of Theatre and Performance

Dr. Fatemah Shafiei, Associate Professor and Chair of Political Science

Dr. Colm Mulcahy, Professor, Mathematics


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