Among students trickling in and out of University President Joel Seligman’s charged town hall last Tuesday, some took with them a fear not of the administration, but of its critics.
Hundreds came in and out of the forum, which saw three hours of outrage over UR’s handling of sexual harassment allegations, but of the 25 students approached by the Campus Times, only seven agreed to speak on the record.
Although they felt that protesting students had treated the president unfairly during the town hall, they did not want to be hounded for speaking in his defense.
“The questions being asked are extreme, there’s no polarity or point,” junior Christophe Simpson said, as he left the Feldman Ballroom where the event had been held. “I care about nuance, and this feels like a social media meme, not a sanctioned town hall.”
Other students agreed with Simpson and questioned whether demanding Seligman’s resignation was productive.
“Joel Seligman should not resign over this,” sophomore Bianca Hall said. “He’s just a face; money controls him. How much can he really do?”
Despite sharing Simpson’s and Hall’s views, few wanted to go on record challenging the night’s events. After one student refused to be quoted, he said that no matter what he said, it wouldn’t be good enough for the extremists who are spearheading the campaign against the administration. And if his opinion involved something negative, well, that would be self-slaughter, he said.
Senior Lindsay Wrobel, one of the organizers of last Wednesday’s protest on campus and currently on a hunger strike, was also hesitant to respond. She explained that she wanted an opportunity to polish certain statements before publication because she “want[s] a career in politics.”
This all comes after last week’s revelations that a federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission complaint had been filed against UR by several current and former faculty members, as well as a former grad student.
The complaint, first reported on by Mother Jones, details how UR left Prof. T. Florian Jaeger untouched after he was accused by Celeste Kidd, another professor and former graduate student under Jaeger, of years of sexual harassment. Kidd’s account was backed by complaints from seven faculty members and 11 students, according to the document.
The complaint primarily argues that UR retaliated against the employees who had come forward about Jaeger’s alleged harassment. The federal commission will not rule on anything related directly to students or allegations of harassment.
Clarification (9/19/17): When quoting Wrobel, the first version of this article mistakenly wrote that she said “wants.” She actually said “want.” We have added a bracket around the “s” to fix this.