LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Prof. Caruth clarifies decision to sign letter re: NYU prof. found guilty of sexual harassment

To the Editor:

I have recently had meaningful discussions with several graduate students from Cornell, who have encouraged me to explain to others what I have said to them about the signing of the letter concerning Avital Ronell. I am grateful to these students for their willingness to speak and to listen and to allow me to do the same. I explained to them that, although I have offered to the Cornell students to speak to them either individually or, by anonymous request, as a group, I have previously been reluctant to issue a formal statement or be interviewed for a paper. This is because of the likelihood of distortion in these contexts and because of the tendency for explanations to appear to be excuses, or to appear as attempts to purify oneself by condemning others. Nonetheless, as the students have indicated to me, they found it helpful to hear some of the context for my signing (and that of others), so I am reiterating my comments here.