Letter to the Editor: Confused context

I was surprised to see a letter in The Hatchet the other day from GW Law School graduate Ed Mullen. He feels inadequately respected by his alma mater because the president of the University used the word “sissy” in a conversation at a small dinner party in a context that made it clear that it was a synonym for coward, as it is defined in the dictionary (“Intolerance at the top,” June 11).

As luck would have it, there was a reporter at the dinner party who quoted GW President Stephen Joel Trachtenberg in an article he wrote. Mullen chose to read the word out of context as a negative reference to gay people, an obvious stretch if you check the text as it appeared in The Denver Post May 20.

What made the letter to The Hatchet editor expressing Mullen’s sentiments particularly ironic was that it was published the same week that the Trachtenberg administration arranged for GW personnel benefits, conventionally provided only to spouses of faculty and staff, to be made available to domestic partners of our gay faculty and staff, a serious step making GW not only more accepting and tolerant but also more equitable.

In his letter to the editor, Mullen urges the president to apologize for his use of the word “sissy.” Under the circumstances, it is clear that the apology ought to be coming from Mullen to President Trachtenberg.

President Trachtenberg responded privately in writing to Mullen. In his letter he said that he had no intention of going public with his reply, lest he embarrass Mullen for not checking with his dictionary before rushing to make his allegations. But that was before The Hatchet published Mullen’s thoughtless representations. Would it not have been better if The Hatchet had taken time to stop, look and listen before it printed an improbable criticism of the University president?

-Helene D. Interlandi
assistant to the president

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