Letter to School of Education students from Dean Douglas Biklen


Monday, December 5, 2011

Dear Undergraduate and Graduate Students in the School of Education,

On this past Friday, the School of Education Assembly discussed the recent events related to the charges of sexual abuse that have been levied against former assistant basketball coach Bernie Fine. At the Assembly, the faculty and staff passed a resolution that states:

We realize that there is an on-going investigation into the Bernie Fine situation, but to the extent that the accusations are true, the School of Education at Syracuse University wants to raise its voice in support of all people who may have been abused. As educators and mental health professionals we recognize the profound consequences of sexual and other types of abuse, and the incredible courage it takes to come forward. We hope that the results of the current investigations will lead to a full disclosure of the truth, provide justice, and help begin the long and hard process of healing.

As you know, the Chancellor has made several statements related to the Fine firing. And even before the Fine matter came to light, she issued a statement about the importance for each of us to speak up any time we observe acts of abuse or have reason to believe they are occurring. All of us in the School of Education, and all of our programs, aim to improve the human condition, and so we need to be especially attuned to the importance of allying ourselves with victims of abuse, recognizing the terrible hurt they experience.

We can help in multiple ways. We can speak up when we see or believe abuse is occurring. We can help to ensure that the voice of victims of abuse is heard. And we can support people who are struggling with the healing process to find counseling. Moreover, we can educate ourselves about the prevalence of abuse toward children and youth, and ways of combatting it.

In the coming weeks, the faculty will be meeting and working to refine our procedures regarding how and where to speak up against acts of abuse. And next semester in class, faculty will also be discussing the recent events and lessons learned from it. The purpose of this letter is to let you know of the recent Assembly resolution and to let you know that we want to make sure that we all learn important lessons from the events that have transpired here and that have been widely reported in the local and national media, and that we use this knowledge to make the campus and all of the settings in which we interact safe and nurturing.


Douglas Biklen