Professors from Berklee School of Music discuss sexual assault on their campus

November 22, 2019

After the #MeToo movement erupted in November of 2017, the Berklee School of Music in Boston started to notice sexual violence on its own campus, according to a developmental psychologist at the university who spoke at Brandeis on Wednesday in Epstein. 

Professor Alicia Bower showed charts and demographics of the student population broken down into the different ethnicities and races of full-time students on campus. She said that 85 percent of the student population is between the ages of 18 and 24, and 60 percent of the population is male while 40 percent is female.

“We see an interesting trend such that female students do tend to be younger than male students on average. So, the largest percentage of female identified students is between 18 and 19, and the largest percentage of our male identifying students are between 20 and 21,” said Bower. “And although this seems like a small distinction, it’s important to point out and bare in mind the amount of development that occurs between 18 to 21. So although we know that female students do tend to mature academically earlier than male students, male students tend to develop self-confidence and self-esteem earlier than female students.”

Bower went over when Berklee let a teacher quietly leave after alleged sexual abuse and pushed students to be silent, and she also covered the different timelines of the sexual misconduct events that happened on campus starting on Nov. 8, 2017. She followed this with other instances of sexual abuse that had occurred on the campus, a multitude of different events that all happened within three days. Some of these instances were between students, and some were between students and professors. She provided a list of quotes from professors that spoke upon the events that were happening on campus and that were involved in the matters.

“Only an idiot would sleep with students, and I am not an idiot; I would not do that. But after they graduate, it’s open season,” said a professor that was let go by the university for sexual misconduct. “Bottom line is, and this is a bit harsh, if anyone saw my girlfriend at that time and saw [my accuser], that would probably end the argument. Why would I jeopardize my career for somebody like that?” 

Next to speak was Kelly Downes who is the chief equity officer and Title IX coordinator at Berklee. She talked about the different goals that the university had and things that people can do to help this issue. She shared the different initiatives and organizations such as the Feminist Faculty Alliance (FFA) that are on campus to help address this issue and those that are affected by it.

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