Letter to the editor: Alumni address the Board of Trustees and encourages Linfield community to sign petition for new leadership

Chris Gilly-Forrer, ’13, writes on behalf of a group of alumni concerned about the ongoing allegations against the Board of Trustees and President Davis. They have started a petition to encourage new institutional leadership.

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Dear Linfield Board of Trustees,

As members of the Linfield community, we have written this open letter to express our anger and disappointment in Chairman Baca’s mishandling of the sexual misconduct allegations surrounding several members of the Linfield Board of Trustees, and of President Davis’s antisemitic comments and retaliatory behavior against those trying to raise concerns for faculty and students, and to request positive change. This pattern of behavior, which we outline below, has resulted in a complete loss of trust in Linfield leadership’s ability to protect our students and faculty, and has amounted to an institutionalization of rape culture at Linfield University. Because of this, we demand that Chairman Baca and President Davis be held accountable for their poor leadership in these trying times, and that Linfield take swift action to protect students and faculty from future sexual misconduct. Until that time, we promise to completely halt charitable donations to the University. We also urge all charitable organizations and private donors to pause donations and pledge payments to the University until the necessary steps are taken to restore trust in Linfield leadership.

We have been made aware of multiple substantiated reports from faculty and students accusing four Linfield Trustees of sexual misconduct, including the accusations made against David Jubb as early as 2017. The lack of consequences beyond an unenforced promise to keep Jubb away from alcohol and from students bore disastrous consequences when he engaged in a repeat offense. While we recognize that he did resign, it was very much a case of “too little too late” as another student’s life was altered due to Chairman Baca’s inaction. We are also aware of accusations of sexual misconduct against three other Linfield Trustees, though faculty and student representatives have been banned from learning more about these.

When faculty, students, and even other trustees have raised concerns about the handling of these accusations, they have been retaliated against and told that properly addressing these concerns does too much damage to the University, showing a complete lack of regard for the damage that these Trustees’ actions have had on the survivors. After the Faculty Assembly completed a vote of No Confidence against Chairman Baca, 88-18, the chairman and president moved to disband the Faculty Assembly and replace it with a much smaller and less powerful faculty senate. (More recently, a significant majority of faculty voted No Confidence for both Chairman Baca and President Davis.) They have also moved to disenfranchise student and faculty trustees and ban them from executive sessions where sensitive issues such as sexual misconduct and the president’s performance are discussed and evaluated. Finally, a faculty trustee, who is Jewish, who attempted to address these issues was censored and, after a history of antisemitic remarks made to this faculty member and others, including remarks about measuring Jewish noses, swastikas appearing on campus being “no big deal,” and not giving soap to Jews before you send them to the shower, was told by the President that he was destroying the University from the inside out, and that he could only show loyalty by accepting the teachings of Jesus Christ in the New Testament.

This behavior amounts to a complete lack of commitment by Chairman Baca and President Davis to protect faculty and students and borders on an authoritarian silencing of dissent and inquiry. Indeed, their focus on sweeping predatory behavior under the rug in an apparent effort to save face, and removing obstacles to their power such as accountability from students and faculty, amounts to an active endangerment to students, faculty, and other trustees. We the Linfield community no longer have a single shred of faith in their leadership.

To restore the damage that has been done to Linfield University, we demand that the following steps be taken. First, the Faculty Assembly must be immediately restored. Second, faculty and student trustees must not be disenfranchised, and must be allowed to attend executive sessions. Third, mandatory and appropriate sexual misconduct training must be instituted for the Board of Trustees, as well as new bylaws that demand consequences for violating sexual misconduct guidelines that match those required by employees of the University. Fourth, and most importantly, we demand that Chairman Baca and President Davis immediately resign, or have their contracts terminated, in order to allow Linfield to heal under the proper guidance of new leadership.

Many of us have chosen to sign this open letter because we love Linfield, and we can’t stand to see it reduced to a place in which victims of sexual misconduct or discrimination, and those that try to stand up for them, are silenced. We believe the victims. We believe our beloved and trusted professors, who have bravely stood up for institutional accountability. We believe the award-winning and courageous reporters at the Linfield Review who have covered this story over the last year. We want Linfield to heal from this period of strife and forge ahead in a new age of institutional courage, and we hope that some of you feel the same way and will stand up for this change.

 

Editor’s Note: The author asked The Linfield Review to link the petition to this letter so students have access to it, should they decide to sign. The Review maintains an objective standpoint, but will link the petition on behalf of Gilly-Forrer’s request. Those looking to sign can access it here