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Letter to the Editor: A faculty statement on sexual assault

In light of statements made in a news article in this paper, we wish to inform the students on this campus that we do not believe that their manner of dress or drinking behavior makes them responsible for unwanted sexual contact. It is extremely important that individuals of all genders on a college campus feel comfortable reaching out for help. We, the undersigned faculty, stand behind victims of sexual assault and want them to know that our campus is a place where they have a voice, where they will not be made to feel responsible and where they can find support and justice. If you have been the victim of unwanted sexual contact, under any circumstances, we can help you find the support you need from the campus groups listed below. As academics and members of the Princeton University community, these are the values we embrace. We encourage others to stand with us, for the integrity, health and well-being of all our students.

To explore campus and community options with a confidential resource, please contact:

Phone: 609-258-3310

Email: share@princeton.edu

Web address: share.princeton.edu


Christopher Achen, Jeremy Adelman, April Alliston, Bridget Alsdorf, Jeanne Altmann, Elizabeth Mitchell Armstrong, Ben Baer, Regina Baranski, Yelena Baraz, Charles Barber, Mark Beissinger, Wendy Belcher, Susanna Berger, Sandra Bermann, Amitava Bhattacharjee, Gorka Bilbao Terreros, Elie Bou-Zeid, Rachel Bowlby, Claudia Brodsky, Daphne Brooks, Keiko Brynildsen, Rebecca Burdine, Eduardo Cadava, Margot Canaday, Emily Carter, Bruno Carvalho, Miguel Centeno, Moses Charikar, Zahid Chaudhary, Sarah Chihaya, Alin Coman, Andrew Conway, Joel Cooper, Iain Couzin, Janet Currie, Tineke D’Haeseleer, Shamik Dasgupta, Danelle Devenport, Christina Davis, Melissa Deem, Jessica Delgado, Rachael DeLue, Paul DiMaggio, David Dobkin, Jill Dolan, Janet Downie, Susana Draper, Mitchell Duneier, Adam Elga, Lynn Enquist, Delia Fara, Tina Fehlandt, Patricia Fernandez-Kelly, Susan Fiske, Marc Fleurbaey, Jane Flint, Harriet Flower, Hal Foster, Johann Frick, Su Friedrich, Paul Frymer, Thomas Fujiwara, Thomas Funkhouser, Diana Fuss, Alison Gammie, Daniel Garber, Elizabeth Gavis, Sophie Gee, Leslie Gerwin, Asif Ghazanfar, Martin Gilens, Joan Girgus, Eddie Glaude, William Gleason, Jonathan Gold, Adele Goldberg, Elizabeth Gould, Anthony Grafton, Charles Gross, Elizabeth Harman, Gilbert Harman, Uri Hasson, Michael Hecht, Wendy Heller, Brian Eugenio Herrera, Christopher Heuer, Desmond Hogan, Brooke Holmes, Philip Holmes, Josh Hug, Kosuke Imai, Amaney Jamal, Mark Johnston, Stefan Kamola, Matthew Karp, N. Jeremy Kasdin, Robert Kaster, Robert Keohane, Nannerl Keohane, Atul Kohli, Boris Kment, Michael Koortbojian, Regina Kunzel, Michael Laffan, Joel Lande, Melissa Lane, Andrea LaPaugh, Rebecca Lazier, Russell Leo, Naomi Leonard, Sarah-Jane Leslie, Simon Levin, Adam Levine, Jonathan Levy, Evan Lieberman, AnneMarie Luijendijk, Stephen Macedo, Shaun Marmon, Gaetana Marrone-Puglia, Susan Marshall, Meredith Martin, Margaret Martonosi, Sara McLanahan, Tey Meadow, Tali Mendelberg, Esther Da Costa Meyer, Peter Meyers, Helen Milner, Deirdre Moloney, Alberto Bruzos Moro, Naomi Murakawa, Mala Murthy, Yael Niv, Deborah Nord, Ken Norman, Gabriela Nouzeilles, Jeff Nunokawa, Joyce Carol Oates, Daniel Osherson, Serguei Oushakine, Lyman Page, Betsy Levy Paluck, István Pelczer, Imani Perry, Sabine Petry, Philip Pettit, Alexander Ploss, Sara Poor, Grigore Pop-Eleches, Deborah Prentice, Robert Pringle, Markus Prior, Kristopher Ramsay, Eileen Reeves, Jennifer Rexford, Mark Rose, Gideon Rosen, Cecilia Rouse, Gayle Salamon, Matthew Salganik, R.N. Sandberg, Martha Sandweiss, Cyrus Schayegh, Kim Scheppele, George Scherer, Gertrud Schüpbach, Eldar Shafir, Jacob Shapiro, Nicole Shelton, Thomas Silhavy, Stacey Sinclair, Peter Singer, Anne-Marie Slaughter, Irene Small, James Smith, Michael Smith, LaFleur Stephens, Anna Stilz, Howard Stone, Jacqueline Stone, John Storey, Dara Strolovitch, Susan Sugarman, Ezra Suleiman, Corina Tarnita, Edward Telles, Heather Thieringer, Marta Tienda, Shirley Tilghman, Alexander Todorov, Nick Turk-Browne, Juan Uson, Aynsley Vandenbroucke, Tim Vasen, David Walker, Samuel Wang, Leonard Wantchekon, Omar Wasow, Andrew Watsky, Judith Weisenfeld, Max Weiss, Susan Wheeler, Jennifer Widner, Paul Willis, Ned Wingreen, Ilana Witten, Stacy Wolf, Tamsen Wolff, Susan Wolfson, Robert Wuthnow, Keren Yarhi-Milo, Deborah Yashar, Ali Yazdani, Virginia Zakian, Viviana Zelizer.

Editor’s Note: The specific statement that motivated this letter is included in an abridged version below. The full Q&A was published on March 11.

Daily Princetonian: You wrote: “Please spare me your ‘blaming the victim’ outrage,” saying that a provocatively dressed drunk woman “must bear accountability for what may happen.” Why does the woman hold the responsibility in the case of rape or sexual assault?

Susan Patton ’77: The reason is, she is the one most likely to be harmed, so she is the one that needs to take control of the situation. She is that one that needs to take responsibility for herself and for her own safety, and simply not allow herself to come to a point where she is no longer capable of protecting her physical self. The analogy that I would give you is: If you cross the street without looking both ways and a car jumps the light or isn’t paying attention, and you get hit by a car — as a woman or as anybody — and you say, ‘Well I had a green light,’ well yes you did have a green light but that wasn’t enough. So in the same way, a woman who is going to say, ‘Well the man should have recognized that I was drunk and not pushed me beyond the level at which I was happy to engage with him,’ well, you didn’t look both ways. I mean yes, you’re right, a man should act better, men should be more respectful of women, but in the absence of that, and regardless of whether they are or are not, women must take care of themselves.

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