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Tuesday, Oct 3, 2023

Student Accuses Over 30 Men of Sexual Misconduct on Facebook

A Middlebury College student posted a “List of Men to Avoid” on Facebook last week, publicly accusing 33 current and former male students of sexual misconduct.

The list originally contained 16 names, but was added to throughout the day Wednesday, Dec. 13, until it was removed from Facebook. Beside each name was a brief description of the person’s alleged actions, ranging from “emotionally manipulative” to “serial rapist.”

“Feel free to dm me more names to add to this status because I could really give a f[—] about protecting the privacy of abusers,” the student, Elizabeth Dunn ’18, wrote in the post, adding a heart emoji.

It is unclear how many people submitted names to Dunn. The Campus is withholding the names of accused students because it could not independently substantiate each claim.

Physical copies of the list were posted in prominent locations around campus, including dining halls and dorms. The printed lists had “#ME TOO” emblazoned in large letters. The appearance of the list shook a campus engrossed in final exams just as students were preparing for winter break.

The list drew explicit parallels to the recent spate of sexual misconduct allegations that have forced the ouster of famous people from positions of power, including Harvey Weinstein and Sen. Al Franken — though none of the current or former students named are public figures.

“Something that’s been weighing me down for a while, especially after the #metoo movement, is how incredibly visible survivors can be, and yet how invisible the ones who violated our boundaries remain,” the student wrote in the original post. The student lamented seeing “people associate with those who have perpetuated this violence as if nothing has happened.”

The list appeared days before actor Matt Damon drew heated criticism for saying that “there’s a spectrum of behavior” when it comes to sexual misconduct, and that “patting someone on the butt” should not be conflated with rape. Earlier this month, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand rejected that view, saying, “You need to draw a line in the sand and say none of it is O.K. None of it is acceptable.”

At Middlebury, the list described some students as “serial rapist” and others as having committed “sexual harassment.” One student was described as treating “women but especially Black women like shit.” Another was said to have made “fetishistic, racist, sexual comments about Black women.”

The list concluded with this: “Here’s to not being complicit in 2018.”

The college responded the next day by advocating its judicial process. Katy Smith Abbott, outgoing dean of the college, said in an all-campus email on Dec. 14 that sexual misconduct should be reported to the college’s judicial officers, Karen Guttentag and Brian Lind.

“We have a dedicated professional staff with enormous expertise in handling these cases,” the email said.

Smith Abbott’s email was co-signed by Baishakhi Taylor, her interim replacement beginning Jan. 1.

The deans later sent a second email addressing concerns about the list’s public and unvetted nature.

“Public allegations should not take the place of our established procedures,” the deans said on Dec. 15. “These procedures exist to encourage reporting, to ensure that allegations are investigated thoroughly and confidentially, and to see to it that all parties are treated fairly.”

The deans also encouraged people who think they were “falsely accused of misconduct in a public forum” to contact the judicial officers.

The officers would “gather information from any student who makes a complaint that a policy has been violated, will evaluate the information to determine which policies may be implicated, and will ensure that the conduct is addressed through the appropriate process,” according to the deans.