Letter for President Jones
Dear President Jones,
Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Jeffrey Rosenheck. I am a senior here at the University at Albany, preparing to graduate in May. Though I am not the most outspoken person on campus, I enjoy being active in various clubs and activities, as well as keeping up to date with the current events in the Albany Community.
Like most young adults at this school who are searching for their place in this world, my four years of college has seen both its ups and downs. I have received As in some classes, and come close to failing others. I have made lifelong friends, and met people who consider me an enemy. There are days where I feel like everything is going my way, and others where I feel like the world’s mission is to kick me while I am down.
Despite all of the positive and negative emotions endured during my tenure here at UAlbany, I never felt like my safety was threatened. Put in its simplest way: I felt protected. This opinion, though, has changed in the past weeks.
On Jan. 31, 2016, you wrote an email to the student body, stating that three women the previous night were harassed and assaulted by 10 to 12 males and females on the 11 CDTA bus. You continued the email, stating that you would return back to the UAlbany campus, and work with the Albany Police Department to catch the persons responsible for this incident. Though all the facts of the case were not in front of you at the time this email was both written and sent, you took the women’s word that this event happened.
Shortly after the email was sent, public outcry came from a local and national standpoint. There were protests on campus and social media. The women who were allegedly assaulted called for the 10 to 12 males and females to be indicted, as well as the bus driver on the 11. To avoid rambling on, I will once again put these events in its simplest terms: things got out of control.
Upon finding out that these three students could possibly be lying about the alleged assault, or maybe even be the ones who started the fight (gasp!), you went to the UAlbany community once again, this time asking us to reserve judgment, be patient, and respectful of the ongoing investigation.
But, how are we to follow this precedent when you, President Jones, did not reserve judgment, have patience, or show respect?
How are we, as students, supposed to feel safe in this school, when our own president lines us up for execution before giving us a fair trial?
How are we supposed to turn a blind eye, when a student in YOUR care left YOUR university mid-semester, because he felt his life was threatened?
To me, this is not a racial problem. This is not a gender problem. This is not a black versus white, or male versus female, or student versus student problem. This is about what is right. This is about due process.
Regardless of what the outcome may be in the forthcoming weeks, no matter who is proven guilty or innocent, you did not provide the UAlbany community with due process. You heard a story, immediately took it to be true, and sent out an email to the student and faculty body, indicting 10 to 12 students for their crimes. You did not remain impartial, you did not provide adequate notice to the alleged perpetrators, and you did not give an opportunity to hear the 10 to 12 students’ side of the story (a direct violation of the Student’s Bill of Rights).
This is not fair to the 10 to 12 students being put on trial for a crime they might not have even committed. This is not fair to the student who left because he felt threatened. This is not fair to the student body.
I believe that you should send a personal apology to the UAlbany family. We cannot, and will not, be the victims of something that has plagued our nation. We must reserve judgment until all of the evidence is brought before us. You must lead the way. You must prove to us that due process does not have a skin color.
I appreciate the time you took in reading this letter, as well as the time you are taking to further this investigation. Unfortunately, due to my class schedule, I will not be able to attend your Critical Conversation on Feb. 23. I hope that all students, whoever they may be, that are guilty of this heinous crime, be brought to justice.
Forever a Great Dane,