Letter to the Editor: Faculty group calls for answers, change

By Faculty group

In a recent Medium post “What Happened to Me,” former Columbia College Chicago faculty member Cara Dehnert alleges sexual assault and harassment against current Associate Professor Sam Weller. This alleged assault took place on campus grounds and the alleged harassment continued in our workplace. We applaud Professor Dehnert for her courage to come forward. For the safety of our campus community, we, the undersigned faculty, would like HR and the senior administration at Columbia to do the following: 


  • Remove Sam Weller from his teaching and advising assignments while a full Title IX investigation occurs. (We recognize this demand has been partially met but want to affirm this continues until the investigation is complete.)


  • Either issue a statement explaining why HR is claiming these allegations are “new,” when Dehnert says she reported them in 2020, or apologize for and recant this characterization.


  • Using the current student-centered resources as a model, clarify the Title IX reporting processes and structures, and draft similarly clear and informative public-facing resources for faculty, staff, and any outside vendors employed by the college. 


  • Update the Title IX website to clearly reflect these reporting processes.


Since circulation of Dehnert’s Medium post, some of us have heard additional stories of allegations going unexamined by HR and senior administrators at Columbia College Chicago, suggesting a pervasive structure of failing to adequately address harassment and assault allegations in the campus community. Every member of the campus community, whether students, faculty, or staff, has the right to feel safe in their respective working and learning environments. We condemn the lack of action and call on HR and senior administration to make these changes. 



Jaafar Aksikas

Paul Amandes

Sean Johnson Andrews

Rojhat Avsar

Kathie Bergquist

Magica Bottari

Michael Caplan

Paul Catanese

Madhurima Chakraborty

Luying Chen

Gabriela Díaz de Sabatés

Carmelo Esterrich

Ron Fleischer

Stephanie Frank

Karla Rae Fuller

Olga Goldenberg 

Visda Goudarzi

Ann Hetzel Gunkel

Robert Hanserd 

Tanya Harasym 

Missy Hernandez 

Joe Janes

Daniel Jordan

Susan S. Kerns

David Christopher Krause

Ruth Leitman

Ilya Levinson

Frances Maggio

Timothy McCaskey

Laurence Minsky

Sue Mroz

Luis Nasser

Michael Niederman

Marni Nissen Olmstead

Onur Öztürk 

Kathleen A. Paciga

Lauren Peters

Teresa Prados-Torreira

Douglas Reichert Powell

Brendan Riley

Sharon Marie Ross

Dan Rybicky

Marcelo Sabates

Jennifer Elaine Sadler

Mehrnaz Saeedvafa

Hilary A. Sarat-St. Peter 

Molly Schneider

Eric Scholl

Brian Shaw

Christopher Shaw

Stephanie Shaw

Jackie Spinner

Amy Uhl

Robert E. Watkins

Wendi Weber

Michelle Yates

Ellen Yeh

Sharon Zurek