My friend and neighbor is being evicted by my college for turning in her abusive husband. Please read the message from her and email the people listed.
I am in the last weeks before my graduation from Smith College, and this Friday the Judicial Board made the decision to evict me from student housing on the grounds that I am responsible for the behavior of my husband. Under our current code of conduct, the actions of a student’s guest are the responsibility of the student who brought them to campus.
As many of you may know from the news or email, my husband was recently arrested at our home in Conway House, which is Smith housing for families with children. I filed a restraining order and signed a release for Public Safety to search our apartment.
I let them know that my husband kept an old rifle, which he had never used, in our locked storage unit. It was found against the far back wall behind stacks of furniture and boxes full of books and other household items.
I also let them know that I had previously found marijuana hidden in his dresser drawer and in a camping sack the storage unit.
When I took a stand against my husband’s physical threats, verbal abuse, and substance abuse problem, I knew that I would be giving up my primary means of support. My children and I now have no income and no vehicle, and their father is facing felony charges. And now I’m told that I have a week to vacate my apartment.
I believe it is incredibly problematic for a feminist institution to allow a woman and her young children to be defined and identified by, as well as unduly punished for, the actions of her husband, especially when she has taken a stance against those actions.
I did what I believed was right at the time. It has taken me months to find the courage to take decisive action, and now Smith’s judicial process has decided that the months I took to deliberate and explore my options somehow negate the fact that I took action. In the course of these events unfolding, I have been advised several times by well-meaning people that I should lie. I was told to say “I don’t know” when asked about the drugs and firearm my husband harbored in our space. I was told to pretend that I just found out about these things so I might save myself from any incrimination. But I refuse to lie. I will not feign ignorance when I know the truth.
I hate to think about the precedent this sets for women who may find themselves in a similar situation in the future. I hate to think that a woman living in constant fear might choose to stay silent and endure because she knows that I was evicted for speaking up “too late”. When I got the decision from the Judicial Board, my first reaction was resignation. I was ready to pack up and go home to Alabama. Then I thought, what happens if I let this go? What happens if the women who come after me get the message that it’s better to live dishonestly and in fear than to risk standing up? What happens if the message that it’s better to create an illusion of security wins out over the action needed to create genuine safety? What happens to that woman’s sense of selfhood when she knows that the community will define her by her partner’s choices instead of her own?
So I’m asking for your help. I only have a matter of days. In the final weeks of my time here, my children need as much stability as possible and I need the space to get back to the work I came to Smith to do. I’m asking that anyone and everyone who might be on my side do one or more of the following:
*Email President Carol Christ at
, or call her office
at (413) 585-2100.
*Email the Dean of Students, Julianne Ohotnicky, at
, or call her office at (413) 585-4940.
*Forward this email to others who might support me and my small children.
With Sincere Gratitude,