Letters to the Editor Re: "Hamilton men should stand up for their rights"


For a response from The Spectator Editorial Board, please see this week's Editorial.

Re: "Hamilton men should stand up for their rights"

In this past week’s edition of The Spectator, Jeremy Adelman published “Hamilton Men Should Stand Up For Their Rights.” As men at Hamilton College, we want to express our profound embarrassment with Adelman’s article. He does not speak for us, and we condemn his offensive and misogynistic attempt at journalism.

As far as we can tell, Adelman has two principle axes to grind. First, he is frustrated by Hamilton’s sexual assault policy. He complains that the standard for judging guilt in allegations of sexual misconduct is too weak. He seems to suggest that Hamilton is too quick to take the side of the victim.

While none of us would ever advocate hasty judgment or rushed disciplinary decisions (we can put ourselves in the shoes of the accused, something Adelman seems to struggle doing with respect to the victims), he is clearly missing the point. Sexual assault is real. It happens every weekend at this college, and there are real victims who have to live with the consequences. Every self-respecting, even marginally enlightened male on this campus should demand that the college take the hardest line possible on this issue. Everyone in this community deserves to feel safe. Potential assailants should know that the college will track you down and kick you out. Period. Adelman’s treatment of the entire issue is dismissive and marginalizing. In one truly surreal moment, he reduces the crucial issue of consent to a mere “quibble.” Real men know better.

Second, Adelman takes on the issue of abortion. While we’re not sure what this part of the article was doing in a campus publication, it too struck us as sadly misguided. Nobody disputes his claim that men have a vested interest in the life of fetus, but there are important links in the chain of his argument that are either missing completely or are so poorly constructed that they lack credibility. There are a few more premises needed to connect “men contribute to the cause of a pregnancy” to “men ought to have an equal say in the fate of that pregnancy.” Surely, Adelman will concede that the cost of carrying a newborn to term is significantly higher on the mother than the father. He must admit also that the very personal, private issues of the mother’s health and the control of her own body are intimately involved in every pregnancy. Men can make no such claim. Adelman calls abortion “barbaric,” and makes the moral equivalence between abortion and ancient Greek infanticide. Inflammatory sophistry has gotten us nowhere in the history of this debate, and it has no place at the Hamilton that we love.

If it has done anything at all, Adelman’s piece has shown men at Hamilton that they do need to stand up for something. It’s not their own rights though (which seem to us to be pretty well protected), it’s the right of people to feel safe, respected, and welcome on College Hill. There’s no place here for small-minded misogyny.

Nicholas R. Green ’12


Re: "Hamilton men should stand up for their rights"

The opinion of an individual, in its most unadulterated form, is a matter of autobiography. As it shapes itself in the mind of the commentator, the opinion can afford to be a little thorny. But when that opinion is put to ink and distributed, it takes on a new level of responsibility. It owes the public context— a way to be let in. When we voice an opinion, we owe our audience a basic level of respect. It’s why we don’t complain about a head cold in front of a cancer patient.

Jeremy Adelman’s opinions on abortion and men’s rights are strong, and we fully respect his right to hold them. Clearly, he believes that men require greater advocacy in society at large. But last week, he neglected the responsibility he holds to his audience and to his opinion.  He’s been given a great opportunity—to voice his beliefs in an environment that would be glad to engage in a frank discussion about them. But instead of opening the door to what could have been a meaningful debate, he has willfully started a shouting match.

When one writes an opinion piece, the intention is to persuade an audience of a belief. So what does Mr. Adelman believe? In one paragraph, he bemoans the fact that men don’t have the right to insist that a woman terminate or not terminate a pregnancy “even if they are legally married.” He writes, “Men can ‘want’ or ‘not want’ children too—why do we refuse to take their opinion into account?” Yet later in the article, Mr. Adelman refers to the practice of abortion as being “the moral equivalent of the ancient Greeks abandoning newborns to die in the wilderness.” What is this article trying to persuade us of? That men should have rights with regard to abortion—or that abortion should never be allowed to take place? If Mr. Adelman is going to use such polarizing language, we implore him to at least pick a side.

This piece is not about persuasion. It’s not about engaging the community. It’s not even about men’s rights. This piece is about grabbing as much attention as something placed next to Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down can possibly get. But the amount of attention that this article has received on campus doesn’t validate it. It isn’t good. It’s just loud.

Mr. Adelman may continue to use geographically irrelevant statistics to support his claims, he may continue to refer to sexual assault allegations as “quibbles”, he may continue to exploit sensitive issues and claim that it is all for the advancement of men’s rights. And we wouldn’t be surprised if he did. But as men, we’d like better representation.

Joseph Michaels '14, Robert Evans '14, Noah Levinson '14 and Gabriel Mollica '14


Re: "Hamilton men should stand up for their rights"

I appreciated your contribution to the opinion section of the Spectator. It was impeccably written and astutely observed. Although it may have appeared to many as a didactic tirade filled with unfounded claims, I found myself agreeing with you in some respects. However, I think that in your desire to make valid points, you may have overlooked some key details.

You mention the Womyn’s Center in the beginning of your piece. I have long abhorred the general campus attitude towards this organization. Whether Hamiltonians choose to admit this has no bearing on the truth – even women poke fun at this organization. However, feminist ideology, which you so fervently dismiss, is not about hating men or working to thwart men’s successes. It is about creating equality and respect. It is also about fighting for a world where a woman (who is a woman either biologically or by choice) feels as safe walking down the street as a man might.

I was a student at Hamilton from 2008 to 2010. In September of 2009, days after I turned nineteen , I was raped in my dorm room. During the attack I was beaten and choked and the rape continued until I bled from my genital area. When he was finished, he made sure to wipe me down with paper towels and kiss me on my forehead before leaving me bleeding on my bed. After I was able to stand up, I debated on whether to call someone, or go to the emergency room. But, I never did.

Instead, I dropped out of college.

On this campus, the attitude towards students that report rape is abominable. When the gossip wheel begins to turn, every sexual encounter, every relationship, and every drunken make out session in the Bundy dining hall is brought up, and exposed for the whole Hamilton community to consider. People whisper about the circumstances, and pontificate the validity of the story. The main reason I never reported my rape was because I knew my attacker, and I felt that nobody would believe me. Any why would they? People like yourself are quick to whip out statistics on false reports of rape and even quicker to defend the male gender. Had I chosen to report what happened, there would’ve been an entire campus of people waiting to tear my story to shreds. You mention that men and women accused of such crimes should not have to prove their innocence. So why should anyone who went through what I had to have to prove theirs?

I tend to agree with you on your opinion of reproductive rights – it should be a two person conversation as it took two people to create that life. But how’s this for persistent rhetoric – you, nor any other man who was born with male reproductive organs, will ever have to carry a child. You will never know the psychological and emotional repercussions of carrying a baby, whether it is wanted or unwanted. You also can’t assume that all women refuse to take their partner’s opinions into account, as I am 100% sure you haven’t been present for every conversation that came after the test was positive. Although you attempted to throw your pro-life argument into this article with a few disclaimers, your claim that a woman should only be allowed to terminate a pregnancy if she can prove she has been raped is preposterous and nearly impossible. If you are proposing a court ruling to satisfy this requirement, you will likely take the abortion option away altogether. Trials can take months and in most cases, legal abortions cannot be performed after twelve weeks of pregnancy. And what would you say to those who couldn’t provide you with “adequate” proof? No matter how barbaric you find the practice, you are in no position to tell those women that they have to base their decision to prosecute on whether or not they want to endure the trauma of carrying their rapist’s child.

Ultimately this isn’t a question of women’s rights or men’s rights – it is a question of social responsibility. Falsely accusing someone of rape is an egregious act that jeopardizes civil liberties and prevents real victims from receiving justice. But raping another person is just as egregious. As a man, you are in a position to be taken seriously when talking about these matters. Instead of taking on an accusatory stance that only serves to widen the gender gap, you could encourage your fellow man not to rape. Instead of complaining about the indecencies of popular opinion on the male sex, you could use your rhetorical talents to show that decent men, like yourself, respect women and only want their opinions and rights to be taken into consideration. Though only, of course, if such is proven.

- Anonymous


Re: "Hamilton men should stand up for their rights"

Your decision to publish 'Hamilton men should stand up for their rights' disappoints me.  Worse than being in (remarkably) poor taste, the piece is poorly researched, unfocused, and needlessly inflammatory - hardly in the tradition of Hamilton discourse. You have embarrassed me as an alumnus.

I will not be contributing to the Hamilton annual fund as a result.

Clifford Robbins '10


Re: "Hamilton men should stand up for their rights"

As a past editor of The Duel Observer and former member of the Media Board, I’ve been reading Mr. Adelman ’13’s op-eds for The Spectator with much amusement. Indeed, for a while, I thought Adelman wasn’t actually a real person, but rather a Duel writer doing a rather creative parody. Sadly, that is not the case. Like many, I find Mr. Adelman views on campus rape and other women’s issues repulsive, and frankly I’m perplexed that The Spectator would publish the piece at all.

Freedom of speech is an important value, and too often at Hamilton those with different viewpoints have been silenced or dismissed unfairly. There are some Alexander Hamilton Institute folks that know this all too well. Freedom of speech is about protecting speech, however, not buying every individual their own soapbox. If someone has strong opinions, they can get a Wordpress blog, but The Spectator is under no obligation to give that person a weekly column. Hamilton publications must strike a balance between encouraging spirited debate and their responsibility to fairly represent the values and people in the community it serves. While publications should publish challenging perspectives, they also have the right to ensure their own quality and reject pieces that don’t meet up to their standards, or the community’s.

Mr. Adelman’s piece last week was poorly written, offensive, and based on spurious facts, most notably the premise for most of his argument. Mr. Adelman accuses the Harassment and Sexual Misconduct Board of using “a “more likely than not” standard when looking at accusations of rape and sexual misconduct that unfairly penalizes male students, but there is no evidence on either the Board’s website or the student handbook that the Board uses such a standard. His concerns become even more ridiculous when you look at the actual statistics of how many students are expelled because of the Board’s decisions, maybe one every couple years, far lower than the number of reported sexual assaults on campus.

Its not surprising that Mr. Adelman would use such shoddy reasoning in his argument based on some of his past work, such as when he accused Joan Hinde Stewart of being hostile to religion because she stated evolution was a fact, and an earlier piece that suggested the Admissions Office was anti-Semitic for scheduling an Admitted Students event the day before Passover. Feckless accusations of bias such those freely used by Mr. Adelman are a cheap way to hide the fact that his opinions are unsupported by reality.

What I just don’t understand is why The Spectator would publish pieces like Mr. Adelman’s, as it both negatively impacts campus discourse and the school’s image. The poor quality of his arguments undermines thoughtfully reasoned critiques of Hamilton, while at the same time justifiably offending people passionate about stopping sexual assaults on campus. Prospective students and visitors often read The Spectator to learn about Hamilton. What is a visiting female high school senior supposed to think when she reads that piece in the paper? What are people off the Hill supposed to think about the current student body, especially in the wake of bias incidents in the last year and a half against Jews, Muslims, the LBGT community, Latinos, and other groups?

As the only fact-based newspaper on campus, The Spectator has an obligation that goes beyond merely filling its pages. The Spectator failed the Hamilton community by publishing Mr. Adelman’s piece, and that community deserves much better.

Will P. Leubsdorf ’10


Re: "Hamilton men should stand up for their rights"

It was all I could do not to laugh at Mr. Adelman's cries of "injustice" against Hamilton men and, by extension, men everywhere. He bemoans "the influence of [feminist] ideology," as though the conviction that women are human beings were some kind of virulent, contagious disease against which students had better be on guard, lest they be infected. His viewpoint betrays a woeful ignorance of his male privilege and of the political, social, economic, and sexual inequality to which "the fairer sex" has been and continues to be subjected globally. Mr. Adelman issues the call for "a committed men's movement." We already have one; it's called social reality.

On the point of sexual assault--which is epidemic on college campuses--if Mr. Adelman is so concerned about the consequences visited upon students accused of it, I urge him to educate himself about the meaning of the word "consent" and to take the necessary measures to ensure that he secures it before having sex with someone. By definition, a person who is under the influence of alcohol or drugs cannot give consent, and 75% of sexual assaults on campus occur when the assailed is under the influence. According to the Department of Justice, 25% of college women will experience sexual assault on campus. Mr. Adelman would like for men to be considered the victims in all of this, which is amusing. Men who want to avoid the ordeal of accusation need do only two things: 1) Respect women; 2) Get consent.

As to his arguments on abortion, Mr. Adelman again decides to play the victim on behalf of his fellow men. It is a well-worn trope of the anti-choice movement that men get no voice in women's reproductive decisions, and that this is unfair. Aside from the fact that this is a gross generalization that implies that all women who get abortions do so without the knowledge of the father, it is also an implicit argument that a woman's body is just as much a man's property as it is her own. Leave the 19th century and come join us, Mr. Adelman. A woman's body is hers and hers alone, and the final decision on whether and when to become a mother lies with her, not with the government or anyone else.

Mr. Adelman should consider some of the consequent conclusions of his argument, if taken to its logical end. For example, would Mr. Adelman make the argument that, because Hamilton values diversity and has an Afro-Latin Cultural Center, that white students should band together and "stand up for their rights?" I hardly think so, and I certainly hope not.

I do not doubt that if and when he reads this, Mr. Adelman will shrug it off as "some bitch" whining about women's rights. I apologize for having and voicing an opinion, sir. I'll go back to my knitting now.


Ann Horwitz '06


Re: "Hamilton men should stand up for their rights"

As a former member of Hamilton's media community, I am disappointed and unimpressed with this attempt at journalism. While this piece may coward as an opinion, it does an injustice to the Men's rights movement. I would be the first to agree that it is time for us to reevaluate the societal burdens placed on men, but I WILL NOT STAND for sexual assault being construed as figments of women's imaginations and abortion as an easy alternative to giving birth. The m(A)croaggression and logical fallacies promoted in this piece are the fuel that keep the social justice movement burning strong.

Chiquita Paschal '10
Former Editor-in-Chief of The Green Apple


Re: "Hamilton men should stand up for their rights"

I was shocked and angered to read Mr. Adelman’s column on the lack of Men’s Rights ideologies at Hamilton.  In my experience as an advocate for survivors of sexual violence during my time at Hamilton, I heard from countless women their stories of campus police and the Sexual Misconduct Board assigning the blame squarely on the survivor, asking how much she was drinking and what she was wearing.  The number of stories of assault I heard is many times the small percentage of those that actually resulted in significant punishment for the alleged assailants, even with testimony that the survivors were too intoxicated to consent, or drugged.  In fact, in practice, it seems that Mr. Adelman’s “men’s rights” utopia for sexual assault perpetrators already exists under current Hamilton policy.  I question whether Mr. Adelman has ever spoken with a survivor about her or his experiences going through the reporting or hearing process at Hamilton.   I present my edits below in order to more adequately reflect the reality that I and many other advocates and feminists experienced at Hamilton.

“The Hamilton community is flush with sexism, racism, heterosexism, classism, ableism;  the influence of these status quo ideologies are manifest across campus. Absent institutionally and in many communities across campus, though, though, are deep and meaningful support for marginalized groups. Frankly, for a college that endeavors for diversity über alles, this is unacceptable.

The first obvious injustice towards women concerns the college’s policy stance towards students (most female) who survive sexual harassment and sexual assault. At present time, the college’s Harassment and Sexual Misconduct Board abides by a “blame the victim” standard when assessing the culpability of students accused of sexual transgressions. Considering the gravity of such charges, such a standard is abominable; persons accused of sexual misconduct barely face any punishment from the College and the survivors are often forced to bear the burden of their assault with few resources and little to no support, often leading to increased academic trouble and interruption of a college career when they decide transferring schools is the only course. Such a standard runs contrary to the principles of our justice system, which does not assign the same standard to crimes like theft and murder. Indeed, in the current system, the burden of proof completely lacks compassion; men and women who survive sexual assault should not have to demonstrate that they did not ask for it.

Women’s rights, however, go further than simply protecting the survivors from the wrath of being blamed for their own victimization (studies in England indicate a consistent 88-92 percent of rape allegations are NOT fabrications, with rates no doubt comparable across the Atlantic).  Consider, for instance, the insidious double bind vis-à-vis the abortion policy in the United States.  If the woman wishes to terminate the pregnancy, she is often financially responsible for obtaining medical care, which may entail long travel, informing family members she does not wish to be apprised, and often obtaining consent from those who will not have to carry the child themselves.  If the man, however, decides he does not want to care for a child, he is not the one who must carry the child to term and carry the evidence on his body.   Such a situation is patently patronizing and inequitable; in spite of the persistent rhetoric of mainstream politics, abortion is by no means a “woman’s issue” – excepting perhaps a curious case in Roman Palestine, pregnancy requires a certain input from both parties.  No, men do not endure the pains of labor, nor the burdens of on-the-job pregnancy discrimination, nor the potential effects on health.  Nor do they endure the burden of birth control, including taking pills that wreak havoc on hormones.  Yes, men can “want” or “not want” children too – but for cisgender men, they are not the ones carrying the babies themselves.

Even with a staunch, lengthy and committed women’s movement to highlight such inconsistencies, both these injustices have hardly been ameliorated due to deep-seated sexism in institutional polices; Hamilton College and her sister institutions, despite years of protest from feminist groups, have not switched to a policy of not blaming the victim.  Unbelievably, campus police and the administration have not adequately addressed this simple request.  After all, the rest of the country has not descended into violent anarchy despite the fact that we do not blame the victims of murder, theft, or non-sexual assault for their own victimization.  When is the last time a police officer asked a mugging victim if they had not, in fact, given their bag to their assailant?

On the abortion front, the logical contradictions are erased by simply trusting women with autonomy over their own bodies, and more simply, by providing comprehensive sexual education and adequate access to contraception so there are fewer unwanted pregnancies in the first place.”

-Amy Tannenbaum ’10


Re: "Hamilton men should stand up for their rights"

Apparently, the publication of this piece led to some “criticism” vis-à-vis “offended” “people” on campus. Poppycock! If they would analyze the text, they would join me in my praise. Rather than assuming the editorial is privileged and juvenile, a close reading reveals it is actually giving us the privilege of encountering modern Juvenal. In the pattern of Paul de Man, Thorstein Veblen and --dare I invoke! -- the post-Perestroika Mitki movement in St. Petersburg, Alderman revives the Ironic essay for an age that so desperately needs it.

He hints from the beginning of his pasquinade intentions. The “diversity uber alles” joke works on two heavily winking levels; it first reads as clear reference to the Dead Kennedys song California Uber Alles, a kindred satirical piece, and more obscurely evokes some Nazi song in order to make explicit the application of Godwin’s Law to any literal reading. But it is truly his allusion to Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter that sucker punches any audience older than twelve right in the jingle-jangles about his intent.

Survivors of 8th grade English know Hawthorne’s classic is a tale that deals with sexual liberation, unsupported children and the negative effects of a religion-tinged legalism that oppresses women. By invoking it in the context of anti-child support (poor Pearl!), alienating jurisprudence and rape apologism, his complete inversion must either be interpreted as a ham-fisted reference born of literary ignorance or a brilliant provision of a thread of juxtaposition that runs throughout. Take for example legalism: he has us examine the fact that 92% of rapes reported in the UK are true, in a nation where 95% of rapes go unreported and of those 92% both reported and true, only 6.5% result in a conviction. He then “proposes” we adopt a system that would emulate that 6.5% conviction rate. What deft comedy. And he implies through omission of the fact that non-criminal cases use the “51%” system (family, civil or juvenile courts and places such a college tribunals) that those who see it as unjust are themselves uneducated. 

When Swift wrote “A Modest Proposal”, he was illustrating the uncomfortable reality of the Irish genocide by faux-advocating eating their babies. Adelman’s call to treat rape as “a quibble of explicit consent” is not a monstrous statement, but rather a clever call for action couched in a damning mockery of anyone intellectually stunted enough to hold these beliefs. Bravo, good sir, I doff my cap to your hoodwinkery.

Chip Sinton '13
Editor-in-Chief of the Duel Observer


Re: "Hamilton men should stand up for their rights"

As an alum of Hamilton College, I was particularly disturbed by Jeremy Adelman’s thoughts on sexual harassment on college campuses. With all of this talk about “self-professed” women and the “wrath of baseless accusations”, Adelman seems to be missing some key facts about sexual harassment. As a current education graduate student and university employee, I wanted to provide my alma mater with some facts about sexual harassment that were not touched upon in the previous piece.

First, sexually harassing an individual is against the law. Period. And it’s been that way since 1964. Sexual harassment is not just rape. The legal definition covers everything from unwelcome lewd jokes, creating an environment of sexual hostility, or unwelcome physical contact. I encourage everyone to learn specifically what falls under the definitions of sexual harassment and rape in order to better educate and protect themselves. The Department of Justice found that “48.8% of college women who were victims of attacks that met the study’s [legal] definition of rape did not consider what happened to them rape”.  Additionally, it only takes a quick examination of lawsuits such as the ones at Yale University this past spring or the 1996 rape investigation at Virginia Tech to know that sexual harassment policies cannot be as clear cut as Adelman would like – the risk of overlooking an incident in which an individual was harmed is too great. As to his point about baseless claims, there should be severe consequences for the girls (or gentlemen) who falsify incidents of sexual harassment. You should not use a system that is intended to provide recourse for your peers who have been violated to seek revenge (or whatever other rational someone might offer).

Second, sexual harassment is not a “feminist” issue – it’s a campus issue that affects both men and women. The study Drawing the Line found that 62% of female college students and 61% of male college students reported being sexually harassed at school.  What is even more disturbing is that less than 10% of student sexual harassment victims attempt to report the incident to the school. Both the emotional and physical harm that comes from sexual harassment leads to a variety of consequences for the victim including fear, embarrassment, lower rates of academic achievement, and unhealthy eating habits among many others. Lastly, many incidents of sexual harassment or assault involve alcohol, so while I fully encourage everyone to enjoy all that the Clinton nightlife has to offer, take care of your friends and speak up if you see something that doesn’t look right.   

So, Jeremy, instead of complaining about the lack of men’s rights, Hamilton should be working as a community towards ensuring that both men and women are safe in dorms, downtown, and at campus events. Creating a safe environment for students allows them to take advantage of the educational opportunities that Hamilton provides… Which is the reason you’re college in the first place, right? (Hint: your mother would want you to answer “yes” to this question)

Mia Cakebread '10


Re: "Hamilton men should stand up for their rights"

Some of our most educational experiences at Hamilton were as Editors-in-Chief of The Spectator. There, we learned how to manage a team, how to write and edit practically and how to facilitate community discussion (not to mention how to watch the sun rise from the Student Activities building).

The current editorial board got a taste of that last one (the community discussion part, not the sun rise part) last week when they published a controversial opinion article titled “Hamilton men should stand up for their rights.” Although we disagree with both the writer and the decision to publish the article at all, we welcome the chance to point out something crucial about the student newspaper everyone loves to hate.

Despite the scrutinizing eyes of community members, those on The Spec’s staff are students first and student journalists second. The College does little to provide the staff with support they need to juggle both, not to mention other obligations, like employment and extracurriculars.

During our tenures at The Spec, we repeatedly approached Hamilton’s administrators about the need to increase support for the staff. To be clear, we’re not talking about financial support. The College has always been generous to the paper, providing it with the funds it needs to print issues without relying on advertising revenue. For that, we are grateful.

However, Hamilton provides zero journalistic training to any of its students, including members of The Spec staff. Sure, some staff members are able to attend an annual three-day conference for college journalists, but three days of training for the few staff members who are able to attend is hardly enough.

This is a problem we tried to fix while at Hamilton, providing realistic, tangible solutions to the College’s administrators. And every time we reached out to them, they shot us down.

We begged for a way to compensate staff members, to keep the good writers coming back so we could afford to turn away or take the time to further instruct the bad ones. We asked for a quarter credit per semester for the editors and returning writers. A quarter credit: the same amount given to people who take half-hour music lessons. We were repeatedly told by the administration that such an arrangement would be impossible.

We begged for an adviser with experience as a journalist. Instead, we were advised by Student Activities, where we found more people to point out our mistakes, but none to provide substantive guidance. We wanted to reach out to the Utica Observer-Dispatch staff, to see if anyone there would be willing to advise us on a regular basis, but we were told we could not offer them compensation according to College rules, and few professional journalists can afford to advise a college newspaper without compensation for their time.

Hamilton has long billed itself as “A national leader in teaching students to write effectively, learn from each other and think for themselves. ” While this is accomplished through many avenues on the Hill, the College has repeatedly refused to provide it’s own newspaper staff the support necessary to live up to this standard.

Contrary to popular belief, you can’t just throw money at a problem, tell those affected by the problem that they can’t use the money in a constructive way and then expect the problem to go away.

We used to jokingly title every editorial “Providing Tangible Solutions for Tangible Problems” in the hopes that it would remind our editorial writers to do just that. Do you want to see responsible, well-trained students running The Spectator? Then listen to our tangible solutions.

Kate Tummarello '11
Erin Hoener '10
Former Editors-in-Chief, The Spectator


Re: "Hamilton men should stand up for their rights"

I disagree with many of Jeremy Adelman’s points in last weeks opinion piece. The article does not make me like him as a person, but then again I do not know him. But I respect both Jeremy and his editor(s) for publishing that article. Hamilton is a liberal campus, and I love it for that very reason. But sometimes we forget that people can have views not aligning with stereotypical liberal or democratic thought. Sometimes we especially forget that people who do not subscribe to the popular view are allowed their own view.
Let me reiterate that I wholeheartedly disagree with much of Jeremy’s argument, even to the point of physical discontent. But I do think that there are some issues he does bring up that are relevant to our college’s campus and not acknowledged nearly enough.

Some people say there is a culture of silence here among girls to not speak up after sexual assault. I agree. But I also think that culture of silence is particularly felt among males too. A male friend of mine (no longer attending Hamilton) was sexually assaulted by a girl and never publicly spoke up. Of the few friends he told at the time, most laughed at him and thought he was joking because, after all, how could a girl assault a guy? But this is not something Jeremy specifically brings up, his article just made me consider it.

Jeremy Adelman made a point of saying that the culture at Hamilton tends to easily blame the male. I agree that this is the case on campus, even if the Sexual Harassment and Misconduct Board is not run on that policy. It’s true; an accused male is almost judged as guilty before proven innocent by those around him. And Jeremy is right in arguing this runs against our country’s legal system.

Personally, I find the thought that a woman needing to prove she was raped in order for perform the ‘barbaric’ practice of abortion repulsive. I am pro-choice and in this regard I find Jeremy’s claim disgusting. But that does not mean I think he is not entitled to his opinion. He mentions the disparity between rights and responsibilities of men to their children that I find intriguing. I agree that is not fair for a woman to have the entire decision of whether or not to have a child or abort it, but then give the man no choice in paying alimony if legally compelled. By no means can I agree to a solution of giving the men more say in the decision of birth, but I do think the financial responsibility should minimized in certain situations. I take a more libertarian view in seeing anyone’s opinions or practices as acceptable as long as they do not hurt anyone else. He can have his view as long as it does not interfere with mine.

But Jeremy’s views, as I have been hearing over the last week, have caused quite a few verbal sparring matches around campus. In my mind, this is fantastic. When was the last time a Spectator article really pushed the limit and qualified as journalism? Thanks to our freedom of speech and of the press, Jeremy and his editor(s) are taking advantage of their rights. As contentious as any of us may find some or all of them, there is no reason not to print his opinion piece.

So yes, I agree with the majority of the public views shared so far that (some) of his claims are ignorant and ridiculous. But how can anyone justify lashing out at his person instead of wanting to discuss the sides first? The automatic disdain without consideration of the validity of Jeremy’s claims that I have seen and heard on this campus disappoints me more than Jeremy’s claims themselves.

Shelley Sauerhaft '12


Re: "Hamilton men should stand up for their rights"

I write in response to Jeremy Adelman’s article in the December 1 Spectator (“Hamilton Men Should Stand up for Their Rights”).  I am chair of the Harassment and Sexual Misconduct Board (HSMB), to which Mr. Adelman referred in his article.  The evidentiary standard used in Hamilton’s judicial actions (which I believe is the same across all judicial boards) is certainly a good subject for community debate.  Mr. Adelman, though, conflates very different contexts in arguing that the HSMB ought to use only “beyond a reasonable doubt” as its standard for finding someone responsible for sexual misconduct. 

“Beyond a reasonable doubt” is justifiably the standard used across the country when a guilty finding will result in denying the guilty party fundamental rights, usually by mandating prison time.  Being at Hamilton, for all of us, is not a right; it is a privilege.  Denying someone a privilege is nowhere near as serious as denying a right via sentencing someone to prison.  Indeed, in most civil cases, the evidentiary standard is less than “beyond a reasonable doubt” because the result is usually a loss of money, not life or liberty. 

Whether our standard of “more likely than not” is adequate is certainly worth debating, but calling for “beyond a reasonable doubt” conflates being removed from Hamilton with serving prison time.  I suggest that grossly inflates the penalty of being removed from Hamilton, and ask Mr. Adelman to think seriously about whether he really equates those two outcomes: if we were the accused, would he view being expelled from Hamilton as no worse than serving a potentially long prison sentence?  I’m guessing the answer is no.  We all, at times, come to see being at Hamilton as a right.  It’s not, and shouldn’t be equated with one. 

On a more practical level, federal law (under Title IX of the 1972 Education Amendments) actually requires the college to use the “more likely than not” standard to retain our federal funding, which includes large amounts of funding for financial aid, among many other things.  Changing our standard for the HSMB, while possible, would have huge financial costs for all of us. 

Finally, Mr. Adelman’s call that “cases which disintegrate into a quibble over explicit consent without corroborating evidence should immediately be dismissed” would, I believe, violate New York and federal law as well.  His target for that argument, therefore, needs to be much bigger than Hamilton.  (I, for one, am glad that the law takes sexual assault more seriously than Mr. Adelman would seem to desire.)  The HSMB is carefully trained to treat all parties as fairly as possible and arrive at a just outcome.  Not all cases result in sanctions or even hearings, and not all sanctions are expulsions, but we take any complaints that come to us quite seriously; none are dismissed immediately without full due process, as stated in our policies. 

FYI, anyone who brings a case of sexual assault to the HSMB is advised (and assisted if they wish) that they can take the case to the police as well.  If a trial were to arise out of that, prison time would be a real possibility, and the standard of evidence would then be, as is appropriate, “beyond a reasonable doubt.”  Whether such a case goes forward is entirely up to the individual who brings the complaint, working with local law authorities. 

If anyone has any questions about HSMB policies or procedures, please feel free to contact me. 

Stephen Orvis
Professor of Government
Chair, Harassment and Sexual Misconduct Board


Re: "Hamilton men should stand up for their rights"

During the Ward Churchill brouhaha there was a widely held belief that, independent of the thoughts expressed by Churchill, the quality of his academic work simply did not meet Hamilton standards for a visiting lecturer. I feel similar sentiments about the recent Spectator opinion piece; Hamilton men should stand up for their rights. I am surprised that the paper's editorial board doesn't insist on more coherence from authors of opinion pieces. Aside from Mr. Adelman's spectacular absence of sensitivity, his "arguments" were so poorly articulated they became impossible to follow. The piece read like a hastily put together first draft. I don't object to the expression of opinions that are outside mainstream thought, but Hamilton's standards for written work certainly are higher than the inchoate and supercilious ramblings Jeremy Adelman '13 offered seemingly intended to shock rather than to intelligently persuade.

Jon A.L. Hysell '72, P'04
Executive Director, Alumni Relations and Annual Giving


Re: "Hamilton men should stand up for their rights"

I feel that Mr. Adelman's '13 latest piece of work is best supported by a quote from the noted poet, writer, and sometimes entertainer Kanye West.  As Mr. West says in his award-winning 2005 piece 'Gold Digger,' "I know somebody payin' child support for one of his kids, his baby mama car crib is bigger than his."  This perfectly reinforces Mr. Adelman's point that men's paychecks can be garnished--at extreme rates--for an extended period of time.  And this is totally unavoidable!  It isn't like men have a choice of who they sleep with, or whether they sleep with someone at all.  And men certainly can't do anything to guard against getting a woman pregnant.

Men have to deal with significant injustice in America.  Only 100% of the people elected President in America have been men.  More disturbingly, fully 17% of the Senate and House of Representatives are now female!  Closer to home, Hamilton has been limited to merely 94% male Presidents, and women have been allowed on the Hill for over 21% of the College's existence.  And let's not even get started with people of color--or, God forbid, the gays.

The Grammy-winning artists Three 6 Mafia pointed out that "it's hard out here for a pimp."  I'm proud that Hamilton can produce "thinkers" like Jeremy Adelman, who realize that it isn't just pimps who have a tough time.  It's men around the world who face these challenges--after all, they were prevented from holding property, voting, having agency over their bodies, and attending colleges like Hamilton for centuries.

Oh wait.

Evan Klondar '11

p.s. Taking a moment to be serious, this article made me profoundly sad. Mr. Adelman has been publishing intellectually lazy and overly verbose articles all semester.  They are almost universally bad.  But the Spectator publishes bad stuff--I'm sure during my time on staff I contributed plenty.  Seeing the Spec carry the argument that a woman relinquishes control over her body if she sleeps with a man is disgusting.

This is not a First Amendment question or some other question of "rights."  It is a question of editorial judgment.  Newspapers should publish articles that add to the discourse or bring attention to a refreshing perspective.  Mr. Adelman's latest did neither.  It was a profoundly hateful and misinformed series of 602 words strung together.  And it's a damn shame that the Spectator published it, and that Hamilton College--a truly good institution, in spite of all its flaws--will have to deal with the backlash that I'm sure will result.


Re: "Hamilton men should stand up for their rights"

It goes without saying that the Opinion piece entitled “Hamilton men should stand up for their rights” is a disgusting article. Much of the blame will be placed on the student writer, and rightfully so. But the editors at The Spectator see several drafts of every piece in an issue before sending the final version off to the printer. For deciding to run this article, the editors should take just as much blame.

I used to work at The Spectator, and seeing an article as pointless as this one make the paper is beyond sad. It reflects poorly on every student who has ever worked on staff – one article written by a student who we trained tarnishes the image of the newspaper well beyond one single issue or year. What’s worse than that, however, is something this small can taint the reputation of a school known predominately for its writing program. The Spectator is Hamilton’s most public face for its writing program, and this article reflects poorly on every student who learned to write at Hamilton.

I understand better than most what goes into producing an issue every week. The hours are long and very late, but that is no excuse for letting something like this slip through the cracks. I also understand that the Opinion section is a student-run forum of ideas and that the editors rightfully take a more hands-off approach, but this was purely offensive instead of just controversial. I still am friends with most of the people who work on The Spectator E-Board, and I think they are smart and competent people. But on this article, they got it all wrong.

Russ Doubleday ’11


Re: "Hamilton men should stand up for their rights"

I am probably alone in thinking that Jeremy Adelman's piece on the subjugation of men by the tyrannical Womyn's Movement ("Hamilton men should stand up for their rights," Dec. 1, 2011), rather than going too far in its unfathomable sexism and blatant ignorance of how the criminal justice system works in this country, doesn't go far enough. In fact, right in the middle of his fascinating, nuanced look at how women force men to pay for aborted fetuses, or something, Mr. Adelman notes "Hamilton College and her sister institutions." 'Her'?!?! As if an institution of learning could ever be described as feminine! Obviously, Mr. Adelman is some sort of feminist plant, an agent provocateur with designs to turn my beloved alma mater into some sort of womanish entity (no matter that the term 'alma mater' means "nourishing mother"). For him to describe Hamilton as a "her" is nothing less than oppression of my sacred phallus! OPPRESSION! OPPRESSION!! OPPRESSION!!!

Scott Bixby '11


Re: "Hamilton men should stand up for their rights"

Last week Jeremy Adelman wrote an article entitled, “Hamilton Men Should Stand Up for Their Rights.” Many others have, rightly, expressed outrage about the content of Mr. Adelman’s article, and I join in their displeasure. I write separately to express my disappointment in the Spectator’s Editor and to point out several flaws in Mr. Adelman’s argument about the College’s sexual assault procedures.

As the Editor of the Spectator, you are entrusted with an important responsibility. While certainly a forum for debate amongst Hamilton students, the Spectator also represents the student body to prospective students, the faculty, alumni, and the wider community. It is your responsibility to maintain the quality of our student newspaper by holding student authors to a high standard of professional conduct. Unfortunately, Mr. Adelman has been permitted to write a series of intentionally inflammatory, often insensitive articles that in no way reflect the views of most Hamilton students. I am embarrassed to have been associated with Mr. Adelman’s inflammatory rhetoric and urge you to consider that responsibility when selecting articles for publication in the future.

In his most recent article, Mr. Adelman argues that a more likely than not standard for sexual assault cases at Hamilton is “abominable” and “contrary to the principles of our justice system.” Instead, Mr. Adelman would like to see the College institute a burden of proof of beyond a reasonable doubt. First I would like to point out that, contrary to Mr. Adelman’s claims, the College’s a standard is entirely consistent with our justice system. In civil trials, which involve monetary damages rather than jail time, the burden is exactly the same as the burden the Hamilton Harassment and Sexual Misconduct Board adheres to. That is, in civil cases (including for rape and other instances of sexual assault) if the jury determines that it is more likely than not that an offence was committed, the defendant is punished. The reason the burden of proof is so high in criminal cases is that the result of a conviction is jail time, which involves a significant infringement on one’s fundamental rights. Hamilton’s sexual misconduct hearings do not involve any such fundamental rights. While I have enjoyed my time at Hamilton, attending an elite private college is not a fundamental right. Mr. Adelman’s assertion that Hamilton’s standard is “contrary to the principles of our justice system” is patently false.

Not only is Hamilton’s current standard consistent with our justice system, it is an appropriate standard for the College to apply in cases of sexual misconduct. Hamilton, as a private institution, is free to include or exclude anyone it wishes from its community. If it is, in the judgment of twelve members of the Harassment and Sexual Misconduct Board “more likely than not” that an individual has raped another student, I would like that person to no longer be part of the Hamilton community, and I think most other Hamilton students would agree.

Tyler Roberts ‘12

All Opinion