Open Letter to President Val Smith's Heartbreak
This is in response to an email from Valerie Smith about the amazing work of O4S activists and the disbanding of both fraternities on campus. In particular, it was inspired by this line:
We have heard heartbreaking stories from students who feel unwelcome to the point of wanting to transfer out of our community. Those stories have come from across the spectrum of our student body—from student protesters to fraternity members.
In 1989, my father was a junior in college, and he was expelled. When I was growing up, this was one of the biggest secrets lingering in the corners of our house. It took years of cupping ears against closed doors to learn that my father was kicked out of college for sexual misconduct. I do not know what he did. I don’t know the names of anyone else involved. I’m not even supposed to know that it happened.
I don’t doubt that it has been a burden for him to live with that weight. It should be. However, I want to be clear about the fact that being held responsible for his actions did not ruin his life. He was able to take classes at a different institution and finish his degree. He was able to get a job at an insurance company where he met my mother. He was able to marry her. I was born 8 years after he was expelled.
I don’t know whether being held responsible made him a better person. I don’t know how hard it was for him to have to leave. But I do know that this did not end his life. He has a life and a job and friends and a family and a house and two dogs and a soccer team and so much more than he deserves. He sometimes says that he is thankful, in the end, that he was expelled. I, at least, wouldn’t be here if he hadn’t been.
So when you say that your heart is broken for the fraternity brothers who feel moved to transfer out of a community that they have let come to harm, I challenge you: let them leave.