Brown Sexual Assault Series: (Another) Open Letter to President Paxson

Content Warning: This article includes testimony of sexual assault, violence and trauma.

brown sexual assault series

Dear President Paxson,

I just heard the Facebook account by Lena Sclove concerning her rape and the lenient punishment of a one year suspension that Brown accorded to the rapist. As a loyal Brown alumnus I am appalled that Brown views the act of rape so casually. In my opinion, barring extraordinary circumstances, which would emphatically not include being a legacy, the perpetrator deserved to be expelled from the Brown community. If this travesty is not promptly redressed, I fear that some parents and some female applicants may shy away from Brown out of safety concerns and that many alumni would cease contributing to Brown. I would be among the latter group.

I noticed that the highest Brown official involved in the punishment decision was a vice-president, who declined to overrule the dean who had reduced the sentence from a two year suspension to one year. In a matter so critical to Brown’s reputation, I was surprised that you were not personally involved since as President you will end up being held responsible anyway. In such cases, there is no plausible deniability. I know your reputation took a hit for vetoing the Brown Divest Coal Campaign initiative. Given the high emotional valence of rape and the growing outrage, this could damage your administration far more seriously. For a much less grievous offense, Lawrence Summers was forced to leave the Presidency of Harvard.

You might want to ponder (or even ask them!) what your predecessors Ruth Simmons or Vartan Gregorian would have done in your place. I suspect either of them would have banished the rapist from Brown for good. I am hanging on to the hope that you will do just that, along with establishing with clarity the expectation that all future on-campus rapists will be expelled period.

Sincerely,

Jack Rosenblum, Class of 1959

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