In defense of the Spanish Department

In “For second year, Spanish draws no grad students” (April 19), the News reported a yield of zero graduate students in the Spanish Department for the second consecutive year and attributed this result to recent accusations of abuse of power and harassment, and to a climate of “fear and intimidation” supposedly found by “[an] administrative review of the department.” This characterization is false.

The phrase “fear and intimidation” comes not from any reported finding by the University’s climate review of the department but rather from this newspaper’s paraphrases of an anonymous letter on March 6, 2015, attacking the department.

The yield of zero graduate students was the deliberate, stated goal of the authors of that anonymous letter. This newspaper has aided their campaign of negative publicity by repeating that letter’s unfounded accusations over the course of eight News articles that appeared between March 25, 2015 and April 19, 2016.

There is a causal relationship between these unsubstantiated claims and the disappointing developments that have affected our program. Those most affected are our current graduate students, whose studies and careers may suffer as their academic home is publicly and repeatedly defamed.

Finally, the University has made clear that the climate review report remains confidential to the University officials who authorized it. No one in the department has had, or will have, access to that report. Any claims about the report’s contents are purely speculative.

Rolena Adorno is the chair of the Spanish Department.