The Jewish Week printed our letter following last week’s horrid peace which basically stated that because 30 random students were not harassed, the ten involved in the documentary must not have been too. It is reprinted in the extended entry because the URL doesn’t seem to be stabile. Thanks to Gary Rosenblatt for upholding the newspaper’s integrity.
Liel Leibovitz had to have another round, no matter that he is a graduate student-teacher at Columbia–and wrote up an article that was an improvement on last weeks. Next time, I hope the paper picks a less, uh, involved staff writer to cover Columbia.
Upon reading Liel Leibovitz’s article on Columbia University last week, we, the students featured in the documentary, are deeply disappointed (“Controversial Film Roils Columbia,” Oct. 29). If a report focused on cases of sexual harassment, would the reporter seek to find 30 people who hadn’t been sexually harassed in order to conclude that the claims of 10 who were abused must not be valid?
Of course not, because it is clear that even one case of abuse is one too many.
What would happen if someone who had been harassed finally built up the confidence to speak up, and the response he or she received was one that denied the problem, or questioned whether the harassment was legitimate? You can be sure this person would think twice about speaking out again in the future. This is exactly what the article did.
Rather than suppress dialogue, we are aiming to encourage it. The atmosphere of intimidation and denial is damaging to the health of Columbia. Your article conveniently ignored many of the students’ testimonials in the film and misquoted the interviews granted the reporter.
This points to another problem with the article, namely Leibovitz’s conflict of interest. Leibovitz, a Ph.D. candidate and graduate teacher at Columbia University, can hardly be expected to maintain an objective perspective when writing about his colleagues, and your paper did not disclose his dual loyalty.
The allegations made in the film are significant, not just for the Jewish community but for the academic community as a whole. The Jewish Week has a responsibility to report these claims with the integrity they deserve.
Ariel Beery, GS ’05 Aharon Horwitz, CC ’04 Elana Jaffe, BC ’06 Daniella Kahane, BC ’05 Noah Liben, GS ’04