Letter to the Editor: Response to the NYT

by Diana Whitney | 1/17/20 2:05am

We are disturbed by The Dartmouth’s reporting on the New York Times story about the tragic suicide of Professor David Bucci. The angle of the Times’ piece was misguided and regressive: Its narrative missed the nuances of mental health and the institutional failures of Dartmouth College, while perpetuating harmful victim-blaming. 

The nine student-victims in the Psychological and Brain Sciences Department courageously sought legal remedies to address the longstanding abuses of their predatory professors. Calling their class action lawsuit a “scorched-earth legal strategy” (as Times reporter Anemona Hartocollis did) is a classic example of what Dr. Jennifer Freyd terms DARVO (Deny, Attack, and Reverse Victim and Offender). Rather than condemn the plaintiffs, the Times should have analyzed the actions and inactions of Dartmouth leadership and counsel as they sought to minimize liability at all costs.

As members of the advocacy group Dartmouth Community against Gender Harassment & Sexual Violence, we believe the Times and The Dartmouth owe it to the victims to consider how the perpetrators themselves — and the denials, misrepresentations and silences of powerful institutions like Dartmouth — create concentric ripples of suffering. Both of these news stories neglect to recognize that by protecting only its reputation, Dartmouth repeatedly failed to protect the individuals in its community, students and faculty alike. 

Stan Colla ’66, Hanover, NH

Ruth Cserr ’88, Orford, NH

Lydia Lazar ’81, Chicago, IL

Carol Muller ’77, Palo Alto, CA

Veronica Wessels ’81, Ottawa, ON, Canada

Diana Whitney ’95, Brattleboro, VT

The writers are members of the Dartmouth Community against Gender Harassment & Sexual Violence and alumni of the College.

The Dartmouth welcomes guest columns and letters to the editor. We request that they be the original work of the submitter. Letters should not be longer than 250 words and must include the name, location and contact information of the author. Submissions may be sent to both opinion@thedartmouth.com and editor@thedartmouth.com. Submissions will receive a response within three business days.