LETTERS: 2.9.12

Don’t let up on politicians

No disrespect to either Jack Schlossberg (“Rally Behind the President,” Feb. 6) or President Reagan, but Schlossberg’s suggestion that Democrats adopt Reagan’s golden rule — the idea that one should not criticize a politician simply because of the letter beside their name — is absurd. If there is a legitimate criticism of a political figure, it should be heard and responded to. Presenting an incomplete picture of a political figure is at best misleading and at worst a good way to elect someone whose true positions people abhor.

Criticism is an integral tool for constituents’ voices to be heard by the politicians they elect. Without it, politicians have no reason to change their positions on important issues. It is all well and good for Republicans to criticize Democrats and vice versa, but the people whose opinions truly need to be heard by their elected officials are the people who actually vote them into office. If supporters of Democratic (or Republican) candidates don’t let their chosen politicians know which positions they agree with or disagree with through criticism, then it’s their own fault when they end up with an elected official who isn’t what they wanted.

Criticizing or choosing candidates based solely on party affiliation enables uninformed voting. Elections, whether at the local or presidential level, should not simply be viewed as a way to get your team into office. Instead, they should be used to vote into office the candidate whose platform includes the most ideas you believe in. Without criticism, a candidate’s true positions on these ideas might never be revealed, and their position on them will undoubtedly never change.

Sydney Shea

Feb. 8

The writer is a sophomore in Trumbull College.

Yale must come clean

As a Yale alumna and a Rhodes scholar, I am divided between allegiance to my alma mater, that standard bearer of “Lux et Veritas,” and shame that it now refuses to uphold the truth.

On Friday, the Rhodes Trust confirmed that Patrick Witt’s application had been suspended. Why didn’t University administrators counsel Witt to tell the truth? When he lied by omission, why didn’t they contest Witt’s version of events? I hope the University has an explanation, and that it is not privileging its public image above the truth.

If, as President Levin has said, “there is no place for any form of sexual misconduct on this campus,” students and alumni deserve an explanation as to why an allegation of sexual assault was not considered important enough to question Witt’s endorsement, or to report — in confidence — to the Rhodes Trust. Surely the selection committee was capable of recognizing that an informal allegation cannot ascertain guilt or innocence, and in the United States of America, one is innocent until proven guilty. This is an opportunity for institutional transparency, not only about Patrick Witt, but also about the sexual harassment policy in general.

The University would do well to follow Cecil Rhodes’s vision: “Fight the world’s fight.” Yale seems determined, at the moment, only to maintain the status quo.

Alice Baumgartner

Feb. 5

The writer is a 2010 graduate of Berkeley College.


  • River_Tam

    I respect Alice a lot as a person, but she’s dead wrong here. The reason the allegation was not reported is because it was confidential, and it was confidential because the process was designed to be so *for the sake of the complainant*.

    “I contend that we are the first race in the world, and that the more of the world we inhabit the better it is for the human race. If there be a God, I think that what he would like me to do is paint as much of the map of Africa British Red as possible” – Cecil Rhodes

  • penny_lane

    I agree with River. Yale’s first and foremost responsibility in this case was to protect the anonymity and mental well-being of the young woman Witt allegedly assaulted. Had she wanted him publicly brought to justice, there are other avenues she could have chosen. Digging the matter up again when it has finally started to settle down will only cause this young woman more pain.

    I too would like to think that Yale would not have chosen to recommend Witt a second time (in fact, given his criminal record, I am embarrassed they recommended him once), but the matter never came to that. As a trained counselor who has counseled rape victims, I can’t help but come back over and over to the tenet of making sure the victim is allowed to regain some control over the situation by being supported in whatever course of action he/she chooses for him/herself. The sense of loss of control fuels the perpetual sense of being unsafe that most rape victims describe, and this media storm must have negated any control she felt after the informal complaint process was ostensibly over. Making a Guy Fawkes out of Witt is not worth causing this young woman any more pain.

  • Justine

    Alice is spot on. Assume complainant confidentiality. Assume informal complaint process. Once the paths of the complaint and Rhodes candidacy crossed, the game changed. What fell apart in the chain of command, in the transfer of information in which Yale made the decision to not contact the Rhodes people that a candidate they endorsed now has a complaint filed?

    Does the informal process not include informing the Dean of the College of the accused even inform the Dean of Yale if not the President of Yale? At a minimum, Yale legal counsel handling the Title IX complaint have to know if issues currently occur that foster a hostile environment?

    I’m sure the accused wants to exit with a diploma. Any litigation that might be pursued will likely occur later. At a minimum, Yale administration at the highest level should come out and say they are conducting an investigation to see how information was leaked and who anonymously talked to The Times and Rhodes (particularly if they are Yale employees) breaking the confidentiality and overstepping their employment status at Yale.

    Also, Yale administration should want to know which Yale employees, Deans, etc. knew of the complaint against an active Rhodes candidate endorsed by Yale. Who made the decision to not initiate a call to the Rhodes people to inform them? I fear short of a defamation or libel lawsuit against Yale, Yale administration will stay silent. If a lawsuit occurs, it is likely to be settled out of court and Yale administration will remain silent.

    See no evil. Hear no evil. Speak no evil.

    • River_Tam

      > Alice is spot on. Assume complainant confidentiality. Assume informal complaint process. Once the paths of the complaint and Rhodes candidacy crossed, the game changed.

      It specifically doesn’t change. Confidentiality means just that – confidentiality – it doesn’t mean confidentiality unless what’s at issue is a Super Special Scholarship.

  • River_Tam

    This comment was removed by the site staff for being too awesome to handle.