Editor’s note: The following letter was written by a fourth-year Trinity College student and is directed to the Provost and Vice-Chancellor of Trinity College, Mayo Moran. The letter was written following the Provost’s response to the Trinity College Meeting’s recent vote of no confidence in the Office of the Dean of Students. The Varsity received the letter on October 27, 2017.
Dear Provost Moran,
I am writing in response to your letter to students regarding the overwhelming vote of no confidence against the Office of the Dean of Students on September 25. In your letter, you called on students to support the Dean of Students, reasserted your complete support for the Dean, and called for a re-evaluation of the alcohol policy because that somehow resolved the fact that your students do not feel served by this Dean.
I never attended a Trinity College Meeting before September 25, but passing a motion of no confidence in this Dean of Students was so important that I rented a gown and attended to vote in favour. This is a Dean’s Office that has systematically failed and disempowered women who were sexually assaulted in this College — several of whom, like Tamsyn Riddle, are my friends, and whose stories I have heard from their own mouths. The Dean’s Office has ignored the advice of student leadership on issues like the readmission of accused sexual assailants into residence, leaving student representatives increasingly powerless to address Trinity College’s far-reaching culture of impunity. You can understand why I and many other students had absolutely no confidence in the competence of this office long before the incident with Campus Police, and why I am shocked that your letter to students makes little mention of the Dean of Students’ record on sexual assault, except to say that students “do not have the full details.”
I understand that isolated disciplinary decisions are controversial and that unpopular decisions must occasionally be made, and stood by. That being said, students’ systematic and widely reported experiences cannot be dismissed because we “do not have the full details” of every case; it is insulting to suggest that the women who have spoken up know less about their own sexual assaults than you do. What students have seen and experienced is no less valid because of your personal confidence in the Dean’s Office. We as students have reached a consensus — evidenced by the overwhelming support for the vote of no confidence — that we do not trust the Dean of Students or their “expert consultations” to protect vulnerable people in our community. Members of the Dean’s Office should have resigned that day. Regardless of how well or poorly they performed, they should have respected the fact that they cannot serve us when they have categorically lost our faith.
Given that they failed to resign, however, it falls to you to advocate for students’ concerns with more than platitudes — particularly by launching an investigation into the Dean’s ability to respond to complaints around sexual assault, which we made clear was of far greater concern to us than the alcohol policy, to which you chose to devote the majority of your letter. We have placed our trust in you to do something, and for you to maintain our confidence, we require more than general assurances that the lived experiences and informed opinions of your students are less important than your own. Please do not allow your private views to interfere with your responsibility to treat your students’ concerns with respect.