Letter to the Editor

As a graduating Smithie, I have felt honored to be a part of this community for the past four years. For the most part, my experiences here have been valuable and, often, life-changing. Therefore, when I was asked for some commentary on a recent struggle my house, where I have lived for the entirety of my time while at Smith, experienced with hazing, I was willing, excited even. I assumed that not only would the writer of the article live up to the expectations of excellency we all hold so dear but that she would, as a member of my house community, show discretion and sensitivity to a topic that has been incredibly difficult for all of us.

Instead, what I read Saturday morning on your website was truly disappointing, to both myself and members of my house. Not only did she make several factual errors, take information from a source that is meant for members of the house only, and use a quote from a source who made it clear she did not wish to be cited, she represented the members of the house who were willing to speak with her in a very negative light, making us seem flippant, callous, insensitive and unaware of the dangers of hazing. Additionally, she chose to include information that lead to multiple students in our house community feel concerned, hurt and even unsafe. There was also absolutely no need to include explicit information pertaining to how the accusation was brought to light. It was unnecessary, insensitive and, coming from a member of the house community, incredibly hurtful.

While I will not make excuses for myself or say that, “I didn’t mean it,” I will say this. Much of what was quoted as being serious opinion from myself was said lightly, jokingly and sarcastically. It was not in good taste to include that part of the conversation I had with the author. However, it was in poor taste on my part to include any hint of that in a discussion regarding a very serious and important issue here on campus and in our house. There is not a single member of our house community who would ever think to take an accusation of hazing lightly. In fact, we have worked as a house to better our community, find ways to be more inclusive and create training for future members of house leadership so that nothing like this will ever happen again. The 80+ people I live with, eat with and do homework with are a group of incredible human beings and are caring, intelligent, witty and aware individuals who all have bright futures ahead of them. If the author wanted to write an honest article about hazing on campus, it would have been wise of her to include the positive reaction that my house and others have had to accusations of hazing. After the Judicial Board hearing ends, there is still a community to build back up, one that has been seriously hurt by the proceedings regarding this problem. In the end, my house, and every other house that has been through this process, is more concerned with repairing our house communities and, I can say confidently, mine has done an excellent job.

I would like to conclude by apologizing to any and all members of the Smith community who were negatively affected by this piece. No one, be it a member of staff, an employee, or a student ever deserves to be painted with such deeply negative colors. So, I am sorry. I am sorry not only for my participation in this debacle but also for the fact that you, as a community, had to both read the article and, in some cases, experience firsthand the backlash it caused. It is unacceptable, unfair and, quite frankly, unprofessional. I hope that this paper will, in the future, be more sensitive to atmosphere and feeling before choosing to run an article that blatantly discusses a particular community on campus, especially one that could have a negative effect on said community. Keep in mind that you are running a student newspaper, not a student tabloid.

Always with pride for my college and my home, and with deepest regrets over this situation,

Lily Newton ’13

Wilder House

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