Do I want an alleged sexual assaulter’s work in my backpack?

Josh Tae, Staffer

With the Me Too Movement rapidly growing in 2017, many women all around the world began to speak up against people in power. We have witnessed countless women receive justice for their harassment in a professional setting, but unfortunately many influential positions of power, predominantly men, remain successful and their reputations remain untarnished. 

Sherman Alexie, author of “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian,” has openly admitted to having an intimate relationship with several women who have accused him of sexual assault but claims that their involvement was consensual. In a public apology, Alexie said, “Over the years, I have done things that have harmed other people, including those I love most deeply. To those whom I have hurt, I genuinely apologise. I am so sorry.” In a blatant attempt to appeal to the public through sympathy and pity, Alexie is ultimately trying to normalize the mistreatment of women in a work setting.

Here at Lake Oswego High School, our English department continues to support Alexie, an author who has admitted to assaulting multiple women throughout his career, by using this book in the freshman curriculum. While this story may contain themes and messages worth teaching,supporting Alexie is still wrong.. What does that say to the women he assaulted? That despite their trauma and courage speaking out, we as a school have decided to ignore that and support his reputation. 

Although Alexie’s book has been awarded The National Book Award for Young People’s Literature and an overall 4.1 star rating on GoodReads, I still don’t believe that this story belongs on our teacher’s and library’s bookshelf. Why have we decided that teaching Alexie’s story is more important than supporting the women who have called him out? Since these allegations have arisen, many communities have stopped supporting “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian.” The Institute of American Indian Arts have renamed their Sherman Alexie Scholarship to the M.F.A. Alumni Scholarship in the wake of his crimes.

So, where do we go from here? Simply put, we stop supporting Alexie. We stop ignoring these women’s allegations. We listen. If Alexie’s survivors have the courage to speak up against such a powerful author, we must have the decency to listen. So the answer is no, I do not want a sexual assaulter’s work in my backpack and neither should you.