To the Members of the Sweet Briar College Family,
Overnight, I received an anonymous e-mail entitled “With Great Remorse” in which one of our students confessed to having affixed the hurtful signs on two doors and on the water cooler in Meta Glass Hall. I am going to quote directly from her confession to me:
“While posting these extremely hurtful labels, I had one thing in mind. My mission was to show others that words can still have an extreme impact, and the past still resonates with us all. While moving forward, we can never really shake the past. The past is a part of us and we are a part of the past. While they did not necessarily know this before, we are all equal and nobody deserves to be treated unfairly. I was trying to make a point, but the point ended up “making me”…now everyone has ideas on what type of person that I am. I am none of these things….I am myself, I am caring and kind. I am the last person who would ever intentionally hurt someone else, but most of all, I am sorry!”
I have replied to this student’s note and encouraged her to present herself to a member of the College’s administration in compliance with our honor code. In the meantime, the investigation will continue until we are sure this individual is indeed responsible or we have identified who is. Again, I encourage you to share any information you may have on this incident with Campus Safety or with a member of the administration.
When one has been in presidential harness as long as I (this starts my nineteenth year at three very different liberal arts colleges), one knows that these sorts of acts, whereas perhaps well intentioned, have occurred at other colleges and universities, but in each case, these sorts of acts cause unforeseen consequences to come to the fore in a moment’s time. What has occurred on our College campus since Thursday morning points directly to the fact that sometimes our actions and words, no matter how well intentioned, backfire unexpectedly and inflict pain, hurt, and suffering upon others around us.
Sweet Briar is at root an educational site. I think it might be prudent for each one of us to remember that our own actions and words reflect first upon ourselves and then upon the College to which all of us belong: faculty, staff, alumnae, directors, friends, and most of all our students.
I want to thank so many of you for your private messages to me over the course of the last two and one-half difficult days for us all, and I will continue to keep you updated.
Yours very truly,
James F. Jones, Jr.