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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Stop callin’, we don’t wanna talk anymore

Published: October 22, 2010
Section: Editorials

It’s no surprise that Heller Professor Anita Hill first thought the voicemail left for her by Virginia Thomas was a prank. After all, it had been precisely 19 years since Hill first spoke out about then Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas’ allegedly sexually harassing her during the 1980s.

After almost 20 years, it seemed unfathomably belated that Thomas’ disgruntled wife would care enough about the 1991 hearings to pick up the phone and ask for an apology.

But she did. And, evidently, we care too.

Since the news of Virginia Thomas’ voicemail hit the mass-media Tuesday evening, the nation, and the campus, has once again become obsessed with what Hill said in 1991, and what Clarence Thomas may have done in the years leading up to the hearings.

Campus was flooded Wednesday with news trucks and reporters from the Boston Globe to the New York Times pulling over students to ask them their thoughts while professors started petitions telling Justice Thomas that it was he who should apologize, not Hill.

This editorial board stands firmly behind Anita Hill.

There is no question that she was a seminal figure, having the courage to speak out about sexual harassment at a time when the topic was taboo. We are proud that she is sticking to her testimony.

But we also believe that Nathan Robinson ’11 put it best when he wrote on the Brandeis-based blog that the best way to show our support for Hill is to think of her as more than a woman Clarence Thomas may or may not have sexually harassed in the 1980’s, but as the respected scholar she is.

Hill has been a professor at the Heller school for 12 years, and in that time she has written five books, taught countless classes and participated in numerous open forums.

While Hill’s experiences with the confirmation hearings years ago certainly inform her teachings, they should not define her.

As supportive members of the community, we must recognize Hill for the contributions she has made to Brandeis and academia, and not pigeon-hole her into being just one side of a 20-year-old he-said she-said.