de Ruiter: Student body should restrain protests until college acts

The Lamron published an article on Nov. 15 that shed light on allegations of an inappropriate relationship between a professor and a former student. Since then, a large portion of the student body has demanded the professor resign and some have even taken to boycotting her classes. 

It is not up to students to decide how the professor should be punished and they need to refrain from taking action themselves. Despite the understandable concerns, students should continue attending the professor’s classes and let administration handle reprimanding her if they feel they should. 

Issues surrounding the masses taking control and implementing their own punishment are universal and can be seen everywhere throughout history. For example, in 1672, the Dutch Republic faced war from its four neighbors. England, France and two German States all went to war with the Dutch, which historians say paved the way for the empire’s eventual collapse. 

The Grand Pensionary Johan de Witt and his brother Cornelis de Witt received the brunt of the blame. Even though Johan took a neutral, diplomatic course between England and France, he was blamed by the masses for fueling the fighting. 

In the Hague, both Johan and Cornelis were attacked by an angry mob who attacked and violated the brothers. The naked, torn bodies of both brothers were then displayed on a lynching pole. 

The lynching of the de Witt brothers stands as a gruesome reminder to the Dutch people of the dangers of a mob mentality and the need for a justice system that prevents this barbarity from happening again. It is similar to the repercussions of the article The Lamron published three weeks ago, in that the students have emulated this mob mentality, trying to take action against the professor. 

Based on the article, there seems to be no official case made against the professor’s actions. The victim came forward and her testimony was corroborated. 

The university should investigate and punish student-teacher relationships as they contain a toxic power-dynamic that allows for sexual assault, but it is not for the students to decide whether or not the professor is guilty. If administration plans to do an investigation, this role should be given to an appointed judge. 

Many might find this process too formal since they see enough evidence that would allow them to condemn the professor and take action themselves. A humble warning should be given against this behavior, as history has countless examples displaying what happens when people pursue justice without proper procedures. 

The de Witt brothers’ lynching is one example of why this is necessary, but especially in the 20th century, there are many more cases where mob mentality and a lack of court justice can result in disgraceful situations. Hopefully, the student body recognizes this and the situation involving this Geneseo professor does not escalate to such extreme levels.