Letter to the Editor

As two of the founding members of Lawrence University’s chapter of V-Day, an organization to help end violence against women, we are utterly disgusted after learning of the childish and frankly inexcusable behavior described in “Art Theft Sparks Controversy.” Sadly, this incident does not surprise us. This type of behavior by fraternity members is not new. During our freshman year, many of our female peers experienced harassment by fraternity members, which when reported, was dismissed by Dean Uecke. We are also aware of other acts of vandalism on outdoor art sculptures (which were very much an appreciated, or so we thought, part of the fabric of the campus) during our tenure at Lawrence, of which contemporary members of certain fraternities were not shy to claim responsibility. However, we are just as appalled – if not more so – at the reaction of the administration and specifically that of Dean Uecke. Her response is unacceptable. The mission of Residence Life states that it “provides a safe, comfortable living and learning environment” and that this is achieved by “promoting respect [and] empowering students to affect the community.” We question how many more incidents need to occur before preferential treatment ends for the Greek members of our campus. We agree with the authors of the article that the removal of the sign posted in response to the theft raises questions about Lawrence’s attitudes towards art and towards rape. We strongly encourage our alma mater to review this matter with the compassion and seriousness it deserves. This was much more than a big misunderstanding. Ignoring the issue yet again will not make it go away. The lack of leadership and respect at Lawrence is apparent and strikingly disappointing. At minimum those responsible should be held accountable to the Honor Code violation, though of course that is only part of the issue. We as alumni continue to receive solicitations for the Lawrence Fund, but we take pause and reconsider whether our financial support is better served going towards the local Sexual Assault Crisis Center, where many of us volunteered during our days in Appleton. Our kudos and support to Sara Wexler and those like her who, like us, want to encourage a social dialogue about rape. Sarah Leet, Class of 2005 Kathryn (Steiner) Reinardy, Class of 2005 Sadie (Weber) Larsen, Class of 2005, S. Suzanne Henrich, Class of 2005