Standing Strong

Thank you for “Standing Strong” (spring 2015). Given the demands of the “hook-up culture” (high expectations, low commitment), I believe the following two preventive measures will enrich the community-driven approach to ending sexual assault. First, two years before Meg Bossong ’05 arrived at Williams as a freshman, I was profoundly moved by the First Days orientation dating-violence testimony. The afternoon before the evening “Rape is Wrong” program, I was scandalized by influential men on campus joking that certain “no’s” give consent. Just as scripture says, “Let your ‘yes’ mean yes and your ‘no’ mean no,” so, too, campus initiatives must empower non-consenting students to choose to avoid dangerous situations. Second, ending sexual misconduct will have to burst the bubble that one’s private flaws “aren’t hurting anyone.” The rise of such violence is a scourge (as President Adam Falk says), revealing the social impact of substance abuse and pornographic lifestyles. It’s on us.

—The Rev. Mike Sheehan ’03, Roxbury, Mass.

While it is nice—and even astounding—to see the number of administrators and good-hearted student groups trying to help victims of sexual assault, I wish that Caroline Rothstein’s article had told us more about what is being done to combat the causes of sexual assault. Rothstein briefly tells us of one freshman who refused to take advantage of a drunken woman, for example, but does not discuss how often sexual violence is closely connected to alcohol abuse. Until I have a better sense of how the college is dealing with alcohol issues and other root causes, I cannot help but feel that—even though sexual violence is greater among the same age group who are not in college—all those different administrators and student groups pictured in Williams Magazine will be far busier than they ought to be.

—Peter K. Frost, the Frederick L. Schuman Professor International Studies, Emeritus, Williamstown, Mass.

Your latest issue of Williams Magazine was terrific —and much needed. I got some hints from my students during Winter Study that the social situation needs to be remedied. In February, I was giving talks in Florida and met a well-known psychiatrist. She said that many of her clients are young women, whom she referred to as “victims of the hook-up scene” on many college campuses. She said these women are shattered and bewildered by what they have been through and are struggling to reshape their lives and their identities.

—Donald P. Gregg ’51, Armonk, N.Y.