Block Break 6 Newsletter
Dear Parents and Alumni,
Last fall, allegations against prominent figures such as Harvey Weinstein brought sexual harassment to the forefront of our national consciousness. The #MeToo movement opened up new spaces for survivors' voices to be heard. Both nationally and on campus, we are in a watershed moment for exposing the gender and power dynamics that have shaped workplaces.
In this context, CC Archivist Jessy Randall brought to the community's attention papers and research highlighting several women's sexual assault allegations against former President William F. Slocum (in office 1888-1917). Following Randall's blog post in the fall, CC's Catalyst and the Chronicle of Higher Education published articles on Slocum's misconduct. Although these incidents occurred over a century ago, recent findings and a new perspective have compelled us to critically reflect on Slocum's legacy and recognize the silence-breakers who spoke out against him.
Following calls from members of the CC community to rename Slocum Hall, the Board of Trustees and I have carefully investigated this issue. Research by Professor Joe Dunn of Converse College revealed the women's statements against President Slocum providing overwhelming evidence that Slocum committed multiple acts of sexual assault while president. The board was also informed by the contributions of CC Professor Robert Loevy and the late Professor John Fauvel of the Open University.
Earlier this week, the board released its decision to rescind Slocum's honorary degree awarded in 1917, and to immediately remove his name from the residence hall and commons. These facilities will be called South Hall and South Commons for a period of one to two years, and the board will then initiate a renaming process in collaboration with the campus community. As the board explained in its statement, "sexual assault and sexual harassment are unacceptable today, and were unacceptable in Slocum's time. Such behavior is in direct conflict with our mission and values, and must neither be tolerated nor overlooked."
Given our values of critical conversation and lifelong learning, we feel that the Slocum case should involve an ongoing dialogue as well as action. President Slocum played a significant role in the development of the college, and we do not want to conceal this history. So, I'll be forming a committee of students, faculty, staff, and trustees to discuss how to appropriately represent his legacy on campus, including his portrait currently hanging in Palmer Hall.
While it is disheartening to learn of these gross abuses of power by former President Slocum, I am moved by our campus community's commitment to seek truth and justice on this matter. Moving forward, we aspire to learn from the past in paving the way toward a more equitable future.
President Jill Tiefenthaler