It has come to our attention, through the work of Jessy Randall in the CC archives that President Slocum, after whom Slocum Hall is named, was a serial sexual harasser/assaulter, and the records are very clear. In light of that information becoming known, and inspired by the Harvey Weinstein revelations and all that have followed, a group of faculty and staff have organized through the Title IX Office and FGS to issue a petition requesting a name change for Slocum Hall. If you would like to sign on to the petition below, which will be delivered to the President and the Board of Trustees, please email Lisa Ruth lruth@coloradocollege.edu. She will be assembling the final draft with all of the names.

Gail Murphy-Geiss, Title IX Coordinator
Jessy Randall, Archivist

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DATE: Block 4, 2017
TO: President Tiefenthaler and the Board of Trustees
FROM: Concerned CC Community Members
RE: Sexual Misconduct of President Slocum and Request to Rename Slocum Hall

Numerous powerful testimonies indicate that President Slocum (1888-1917) was a well-known perpetrator of sexual harassment and sexual assault toward employees as well as students of Colorado College. The records refer to hundreds of women*, but we cite here the following quotes as just a few examples of those who were willing to go on the record, some of whom were also willing to be named:

– Maud S. Bard [CC Class of 1912, Secretary to the President 1912-1916]:
One afternoon in the Spring of 1913, in the President’s office, at Palmer Hall, Mr. Slocum took me by the shoulders, forced me to stand against the east wall of his office, and pressed his whole body against mine, especially emphasizing the pressure at the portion of his body and mine most calculated to arouse and satisfy physical passion. I struggled to free myself, and fled from the office. This particular form of bestiality he never attempted again.

On commencement day of this year, June 9, 1915, I was in the library of the President’s home, when I fainted. A doctor was summoned, who directed I should lie on the couch, until my own doctor could come to me. A woman friend was left to watch me, while Mr. & Mrs. Slocum went to the Alumni Banquet at Cossitt Memorial. Between courses the President came to his house to see me. Bending over the couch, with back to the other persons in the room, he inserted his hand under the clothing covering my chest, and stating that the doctor had told him to watch my heart action, passed his hand again and again over me, as far down as he could reach. I tried to protect myself by pushing him away as much as my condition would permit. The next day he reminded me of this effort on my part, and told me I had been a prude. This happened at my home on the next morning after I had fainted. Mr. Slocum called to see me and was left alone with me. I was in bed being too weak to get up. He repeated the insult of the day before, still under the cover of the necessity of watching the heart action. Then suddenly he stooped over me, laid his hand on my chest, and exclaimed, “Oh, I love you so!”

These are two or three instances of the President’s persecution of a woman who works for him. I can give others, but none more flagrant. I also know, from my personal observation, that the women students in the college are not safe alone with the President in his office.

– Harriet Sater [CC Cashier, 1910-1918]:
The constant need of having his hand on your body, feeling it, are things a woman cannot mistake. A constant desire to always bring the physical side in is always present. […] at the end of a normal conversation, when he asked me if I was engaged, I answered “No,” and like a flash the lights were turned off, and before I was aware of what was happening, I was seized in his arms, and he said, “You have got to kiss me.” The lights were turned off another time, but the second time I was prepared.

– Irma K. Persons [wife of Warren Persons, who was Dean of Business Administration 1912-1918]:
[After a college dinner at the Acacia Hotel, Mrs. Persons accompanied an injured Mrs. Slocum home. When Mrs. Slocum was settled, she entered a dark room with Dr. Slocum to get her coat.] He put his arm around me and then the first thing I knew he kissed me, on the mouth, and in the act our eyeglasses became entangled. He turned on the lights to find our glasses and I got out of the room. He was all this time calling me endearing terms […] He wanted to take me home, but I insisted on being taken back to the hotel, where Mr. Persons was. From his house to the hotel he drove just as slowly as was possible, all the while calling me endearing names, trying to hold my hand […] and several times he put his arms around me.

– Florence Leidigh [CC Class of 1902, Assistant to Dean of Women Ruth Loomis 1902]:
During the early days of my freshman year, I was horrified at the discovery that the College’s President was a man who made shocking advances to students and other women. One of my intimate friends […] told me of her fear at being left alone with Dr. Slocum, even for a moment. If so left in a room of his own home, she was invariably made to submit to the most startling caresses. My greatest shock, however, came with the knowledge, that the President, almost every evening, was in the closed rooms of one of the officials of the girls’ hall — often remaining until after midnight […] I could continue indefinitely with tales of young girls who had horrifying experience with their president: one in a public train, another in a closed carriage.

– Anonymous [Instructor]:
Of course I have known for a long time that Pres. Slocum has a most disgusting attitude toward women who are unsuspicious, young, and thrown into contact with him […] Dr. Slocum made himself extremely disagreeable to me for the first few weeks, cropping into my room in [residence not named] late in the evening, and saying many sentimental and silly things. I was young then and felt very guilty, as though I had brought such familiarity on myself, and I finally asked [name not given] about it. She told me that the experience was fairly common […] By never staying in my room alone in the evening the difficulty finally relieved itself […] I could not repeat anything he said. The impression of him, however, is a very horrid one, and the trapping feeling when he took advantage of his age and position and his friendship for my family, I can assure you I have never forgotten.

The college’s Naming Policy states: “In unusual or unforeseen circumstances, the College reserves the right to remove a previously approved name. The President of the College will bring forth the recommendation for approval by the Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees. Examples of such situations include, but are not limited to: [.] Continuation of the name may compromise the public trust or reputation of the College.”

Because President Slocum’s behavior was offensive in his day, as well as ours, we request that his name be removed from Slocum Residence Hall, and the process be initiated for the selection of a new name. We believe that a building named after such a figure compromises the reputation of the college. We also request that his portrait be removed from the main stairwell in Palmer Hall.

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*CC professor Guy Albright referred to “hundreds” in a letter to Paul Peck dated October 23, 1917 (Guy Harry Albright Papers, Ms 0389, Box 1, Folder 3, Colorado College Special Collections). He states: “Stories by the hundreds and affidavits by the dozen poured in proving that college girls, women secretaries, wives of professors, married women in town, pretty or homely, old or young, all were liable to shocking caresses and suggestive language from Slocum.”

Posted by lruth@coloradocollege.edu for the December 1, 2017 digest.

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