Tag Archives: rick culliton

Beyond Scott Backer: Accountability at Wesleyan in the Sexual Misconduct Judicial Process

This article has been the collaborative effort of kitab, Maya, and wilk.


Last night, the Spotlight team at the Boston Globe published the latest installment in their “Private Schools, Painful Secrets” series detailing New England private schools’ repeated mishandling of reports of sexual misconduct and assault involving administrators. The Globe article, titled “Educators accused of sexual misconduct often find new posts,” exposed more explicitly that one of these administrators turned out to be Wesleyan’s own former Associate Dean of Students, Scott Backer.

The Globe team focuses on how the lack of public accountability at private schools allows offenders to “rewrite their pasts,” going on to hold positions at other institutions. Administrations keep quiet to avoid scandal, more concerned with image than the wellbeing of their own and other students. The article makes little mention of our own administration, however.

Interested in structures of accountability at Wesleyan, we looked into the timeline of Backer’s employment and his role in the institutional structures already in place for reporting and adjudicating sexual misconduct. What we found suggests that there are very few processes by which student and faculty complaints about administrative conduct can be heard or taken seriously.

That Wesleyan employed an offender for eight years–despite accounts from students that he was not doing his  job properly–and then failed to be transparent about his “departure” from the university is an example of a broader pattern. The problem is larger than Scott Backer.

Post-TDF Stats: An Interview with Dean Rick Culliton

So, for the past week, Zach has been getting me—by threatening me with a glow-stick, as usual—to run around with him to get the administrative perspective on Tour de Franzia. Here’s the first product of that running around, an interview with Dean Rick Culliton, Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs, who was gracious enough to give us—via a set of terse email replies—the post-game stats of last Friday’s revelries.

A longer, more conversational interview with Dean Mike Whaley, Vice President for Student Affairs, will be posted sometime later today, if I ever finish my paper in time. (Edit: Whoops, probz tomorrow.) For Public Safety’s own “Awareness Report” regarding the event, click here.

Could you describe the administration’s attempts to prevent Tour de Franzia from taking place this year?

As you are aware, the university increased its staff presence by doubling up the public safety shifts and bringing in about 20 student affairs staff to monitor the event, secure facilities and address violations of the code of non-academic conduct.

Did you think these strategies were successful? If so, how so?

The increased presence of staff led to less vandalism than previous years and an increase in the number of students documented who will now face judicial charges as a result.