Students petition after Tassel resigns
By Jennifer Garfinkel, The Dartmouth Staff
Published on Thursday, April 14, 2005
In the wake of Abby Tassel's resignation on April 4, many Sexual Abuse Peer Advisors are pressuring the administration to take the process of finding a new Sexual Abuse Awareness Program director seriously by compiling statements from students she helped.
Aya Caldwell '06 and Christine Kim '05 are gathering testimonials from everyone who has worked with Tassel or has been affected positively by her in any way. They are asking these people to write statements, ranging in length from five sentences to two pages, that will be bound together into a packet. Caldwell and Kim, with the help of other SAPAs, will then hand deliver the packets, complete with cover letters, to the desks of influential administrators every day for a week.
"Many students displayed concern and disappointment because they personally had positive experiences with Abby, or knew of friends who did," Kim said.
The hope is that these packets will prove to the administration how influential Tassel was to the student body and will pressure administrators to pursue a candidate who can fill her shoes.
However, it is unclear when the packets will be delivered because Kim and Caldwell have not yet received the number of testimonials for which they had originally hoped.
In selecting a replacement, the SAPAs want to make sure that the College looks for someone who can handle the workload that Tassel's position requires and who will work on students' behalf. There is concern that the College will worry about "institutional longevity" instead of finding someone who will "be dedicated to the students," Liz Allen '06 said. "They should be hiring another Abby."
Although Dean of the College James Larimore said that Tassel is irreplaceable, he also said that "any time that a beloved staff person leaves there is always worry about what the future will hold."
Another goal of the SAPAs is to ensure that the SAAP will run smoothly during the interim while the College is selecting Tassel's replacement. In addition to the booklet of testimonials, involved SAPAs are meeting with administrators to plan both the interim status and future of the SAAP.
"For people who work closely with SAPA and SAPA issues, there won't be an advocate for them, even if it's just for six months. You really need a point person and not having a point person is really scary," Allen said of the time between Tassel leaving and the College hiring a new SAAP director.
A search committee will soon begin to look for someone to fill Tassel's position, but has not begun the search yet, Dr. Mark Reed, director of health resources, said.
"We are trying to fulfill the position as quickly as we can but also trying to get the right person. We are committed to the position," Larimore said.
In the interim, Laura Rubinstein, coordinator of Health Programs, will handle personal calls that otherwise would have been directed to Tassel. An interim director will not be hired. Instead, on April 26, 2005, Tassel will train members of the faculty to cover different aspects of her job.
Caldwell explained that their activism is not just to show the administration how great Tassel has been, but to establish communication between the student body and the administration now that someone new will be hired.
"Our purpose is for the administration to know what kind of impact she had on the students, what a huge asset she was. We want whoever will come in next to have a more supportive environment, and also want to have a greater transparency between the administration and the students," Caldwell said.
Caldwell said this "transparency" entails students playing a role in the interviewing process as well as "making sure the students feel supported with whatever interim program they come up with."
Tassel, who submitted her letter of resignation last week, did not state a specific reason for leaving the College but students close to Tassel believe that the administration's lack of appreciation for her dedication caused the resignation.
"We think that there could have been preventative measures taken to keep Abby from resigning," Christine Kim '05 said.