Northwestern journalism professors respond to sexual misconduct allegations against Alec Klein | Bleader

Northwestern journalism professors respond to sexual misconduct allegations against Alec Klein

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Alec Klein - NORTHWESTERN UNIVERSITY
  • Northwestern University
  • Alec Klein

After ten former Northwestern University students wrote an open letter last week alleging a history of sexual misconduct by professor Alec Klein, 15 Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications faculty members have responded.

"We hear you. We're listening," the professors wrote in a letter addressed to the "Medill Me Too" group, which has been released to the press. "We’re committed to doing our part, as teachers, in a sustained effort to make changes that will ensure no student or employee experiences abusive treatment, sexual misconduct, or discriminatory behavior."

Rachel Davis Mersey, one of the signatories, says the decision to respond came a result of days of hallway conversations that have proliferated at Medill since the news about Klein broke last week.

"That really led to the beginning of a faculty conversation about what kind of environment we want to provide for our students," says Davis Mersey. "We need to be talking about issues of harassment and bullying in a constructive way, and I think this is the very beginning of that conversation."

Here below is the faculty letter in full, reprinted with their permission:

Feb. 9, 2018

Dear Alison Flowers, Meribah Knight, Kalyn Belsha, Olivia Pera, Suyeon Son, Lorraine Ma, Yana Kunichoff, Natalie Krebs, Lauryn Schroeder, and Fariba Pajooh:

As faculty members at Medill we’d like to respond to your public letter to our dean concerning the treatment you received in the course of study, or employment, in our School.

“It’s time you heard us,” you wrote. “It’s time you listened.”

Among other things, we’d like you to know:

(1) We hear you.

(2) We’re listening.

(3) And we’re committed to doing our part, as teachers, in a sustained effort to make changes that will ensure no student or employee experiences abusive treatment, sexual misconduct, or discriminatory behavior.

This is a teaching, learning, and research institution, and your courage in discussing deeply troubling experiences produces a profound obligation for us. It will test our capacity to learn, reflect deeply, and change.

It may not be visible to you yet, but the allegations you made shook many of us to the core. In hallways, in classrooms, in meetings among faculty, we have begun a period of profound reflection on the issues you’ve raised.

We are a group of tenured faculty members who found ourselves in conversation yesterday, and decided to try to capture, for you, some sense of the feeling in the room. We know these are views shared widely by many caring colleagues and staff members.

Others, in administrative positions and Northwestern's Office of Equity, have important roles to play in the new investigation just announced. We fully support their efforts.

As faculty members, we also clearly have plenty of urgent work to do.

This includes the simple step of making something quite clear: We respect you, and express our deep personal regret for any harm suffered.

We do hear you.

We’ll continue to listen.

In conversation with you, other alumni, current students, and our colleagues, we promise to search for ways to help provide a safer, healthier environment free of any form of predation or bullying.

Sincerely,

Douglas Foster, Rachel Davis Mersey, Frank Mulhern, Ashlee Humphreys, David Abrahamson, Donna Leff, Jack Doppelt, Patty Loew, Vijay Viswanathan, Michelle F. Weinberger, Owen Youngman, Brent Huffman, Christopher Benson, Edward Malthouse, and Martin Block

Northwestern announced last week that Klein has been granted a leave of absence and that the allegations against him are being investigated.

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